In editing our documentaries, the picture leads. Writing the narration is literally the last thing I do. That doesn’t mean I don’t have concrete ideas about the story, especially since I’ve usually spent a year reporting it. And it doesn’t mean that those ideas don’t have a lot to do with how we structure the film. But if the dramatic structure works better in a different way than I might have written it if I were writing a story, we let the film structure lead. I can make the words work to the pictures. So literally, I don’t write a script ahead of time. It sometimes drives executive producers crazy. We try to make the film work as a film, as if you could almost watch it without being told what’s going on from a narrator—and then I start writing the words.—Sherry Jones, head of Washington Media Associates, who has produced 20 films for PBS’s “Frontline,” at a Nieman Fellows seminar January 23, 1998.

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