How to Make a Music Documentary with Ian McFarland

How to Make a Music Documentary

The music documentary has a long history as well as a special place in my heart when it comes to documentary films. A couple of my favourite docs of the past few years have fallen into this category. I love geeking out on the programmes about how bands made their most famous albums. The first conversation with an industry guest that we ever had on the show was with John Pirozzi and his music documentary, Don’t Think Ive Forgotten.  My wife, Steph, and I are in the middle of making our own music documentary, Elvis of Cambodia. So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that I’m a big proponent of the music doc, since it’s basically the crossroads of two of my biggest passions: film and music.


What may surprise you is the number of sub-categories that fall into the music documentary genre. Docs about the making-of albums, docs about the music or musician, docs about a musician’s following, docs about specific instruments, docs about the history of a type of music, etc. The list goes on.


Ian McFarland, a musician and director of commercials, music videos, and documentary films, recently is making some big noise – it played Doc NYC and a slew of other name festivals – with his latest music documentary, The Godfathers of Hardcore ,  a film about two boyhood friends who would go on to lead one of New York’s most recognizable hardcore bands, Agnostic Front. It’s a candid conversation that happens to be one of my faves in a long time (I know, surprise, surprise, I get to talk about music and film!). There is a lot here, especially for aspiring or current music doc makers.


Topics Discussed

  • How documentary filmmaking is not just a creative endeavour, it’s a lifestyle
  • How to approach a known band with your doc idea
  • A rather unique approach to filming interviews without using a camera


Related Resources

Keep in touch with Ian and his film:

Film Website 

Facebook @thegodfathersofhardcore

Instagram: @thegodfathersofhardcoremovie

Twitter: @godfathersofhc

Ian’s Website



Film Trailers

° Watch Ian McFarland’s film trailer – The Godfathers of Hardcore



° Watch the trailer for one of the best music documentaries of recent years, Searching for Sugarman


° Watch trailer for music documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston


° Watch trailer for music Documentary, Anvil! The Story of Anvil


° Watch teaser for our own music documentary (currently in production) Elvis of Cambodia


° Watch in its entirety short documentary, Heavy Metal Parking Lot



Watch the Gram Parsons documentary, Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel, in its entirety.







#Doclifer of the Week

Scott Link, and his current project If My Judges Are Ready? Check out more information about #DocLifer Scott’s film by visiting his website. We found Scott because he’s been so active on the TDL Community Group on facebook. You should consider joining too! It’s an amazingly supportive and informative community that is growing every day… and therefore needs YOU, fellow #DocLifer!



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Host and TDL Founder, Chris G Parkhurst

Chris is a documentary filmmaker and the founder and host of The Documentary Life, a platform which aims to inform and inspire documentary filmmakers from around the globe.

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