In a traditional television writer's room, staff writers and story editors are entry-level positions. That's not the case in documentary.
With 26 years experience, Chris Bové works at a Co-Executive Producer level, sometimes writing or rewriting entire scripts, or contracting additional writers. He usually works with the director to create the strongest script possible before the shoot, or at least before the edit.
Hiring a documentary writer / story editor helps develop concepts faster and greatly improves how a script "feels". It is the key to eliminating issues before they arise and creating a finished product that begs repeated viewings.
Even the worst case scenario demands great writing. Think of all the movies you've watched:
Bad Story + Great Cinematography = Flop
Great Story + Bad Cinematography = Cult Classic
Postproduction is expensive. Without a story editor you'll spend an eternity in the edit bay fixing a story that didn't survive the shooting process.
WRITER & STORY EDITOR
"It looked cool, but it was kind of dumb."
Sound familiar? You hear it far too often.
The credits finish. The lights come up. What are most people talking about when they walk away from a theater or turn off a TV?
They're not talking about edit software or camera codecs. They're discussing the story. They are talking about the characters and the plot in which they were caught-up.
As writers and story editors this is our craft. This is where we eat and sleep.
We are the ones who need to deliver to the editors a clear story arc. All characters must advance. All subplots must feed the main. Every detail must perfectly convey the vision - realized or not - of everyone involved.