Without question, predictive analytics is going to change the way the movie industry makes movies.

From Hollywood to the smallest independent productions, the industry is scrambling to implement big data analytics to help it refine its productions and target its marketing for maximum effectiveness.

Already, the topic of big data analytics has spawned numerous documentary movies.

Films such as The Human Face of Big Data delved into how big data is already heavily shaping the world around us and influencing just about every aspect of our lives.

However, little has been written on the topic of how big data predictive analytics is going to influence documentary movie making.

Let’s take a look at where this exciting new technology will be able to help the documentary film industry improve its movies and reach ever bigger audiences.

What Is Predictive Analytics?

Predictive Analytics, otherwise known as big data analytics, is a field of data science that is concerned with extrapolating trends or patterns from large pools of data.

While this technology has been around since the creation of the computer (IBM famously used data cards to help Nazi Germany catalog prisoners for transportation to the death camps), it has only recently harnessed its true potential as a world-changing tool.

Thanks to the development of sophisticated algorithms, big data companies such as Largo Films can now identify accurate patterns from a wide range of data pools.

Such analytics would ordinarily take large teams of humans years of painstaking work, but can now be completed in a matter of minutes.

Today, data can be trawled for literally any pattern. From these trends, big data companies can accurately predict such things as box office gross, target audiences, parts of the movie that audiences will like/dislike, and so on and so on.

This information literally empowers moviemakers to improve their films to make them more suitable for their target audience. Not only that, but the technology also empowers them to do everything from budget their productions more accurately to directly targeting their desired audience.

Now you can see why this technology is set to be so revolutionary.

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How Can Data Analytics Help Documentary Film?


Documentary movies are created in a different manner to feature films.

In the vast number of cases, the moviemakers begin the documentary with a general idea of what their aims are and then set out to capture the footage required to achieve this aim.

Documentarian Michael Moore is a great example. Clearly, he sets out filming with a general agenda. In the case of his award-winning Bowling For Columbine, Moore is seen throughout the film trying to obtain an interview with K-Mart executives only to be stonewalled until the very end.

Moore would have not known that he would have been able to create this narrative until he undertook filming. Therefore, the exact narrative of the movie would not have been a preplanned thing.

The unpredictable nature of the narrative in documentary movies poses a unique and quite substantial challenge for moviemakers.

However, big data analytics can be turned on the raw footage that is collected in order to decide on the most appealing narrative elements. This will give moviemakers a powerful tool with which to weave their footage together to ensure it best appeals to the target audience.

This will be a game changer, particularly when it comes to movies that were unable to get sufficient footage (i.e. an interview with the offending party) to finish the story.

Movies such as Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee exhibit this failure to get the vital ending interview. In this case, the filmmakers were forced to create a new narrative that made the search for McAfee secondary.

Big data analytics would be able to help moviemakers create the most appealing alternative narrative based on past documentary analysis.

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Movie productions are set to benefit immensely from future big data analytics. Once the technology becomes sophisticated enough, and enough data has been collected, it will help both reduce costs as well as filming times.

One area that documentary movies are set to benefit from is the reduction in research. Often, documentaries require thousands upon thousands of hours of research before they can be filmed.

Everything from topic research to individual background checks takes hours of research. Often, many aspects of this research involve long-distance travel to access records, etc.

Big data will be able to massively reduce this aspect of the production. Complex algorithms will be able to find all the relevant data in a matter of seconds. Articles related to the topic, but not relevant to the documentary, can be easily rejected by enhancing the search criteria.

Another advantage is that information that might already be missed by overextended research teams will be found and might possibly make the documentary even better.


Documentaries frequently lack much in the way of substantial marketing budgets. This means that they suffer when it comes to distribution.

Because of an industry bias that means that movie theatres rarely show documentary films, they are often only released on platforms such as Netflix and Sofy.tv, or go straight to video.

Data-driven target marketing would allow filmmakers to directly market their documentary films to their desired audience.

Target video adverts and posts on social media etc. would allow the filmmakers to reach the exact people who are likely to be interested in the film’s subject, its style, and so on.

These people could then easily access the movie via the relevant video on demand platforms.

The examples above are just a few of the ways in which data-driven moviemaking will be able to help documentary movies.

If you are a filmmaker and want to learn more, contact Largo Films for more information.