documentary theory

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  • 1.Documentary Theory By James Davies

2. - Aim of documentary is to report something with evidence. - Documentaries can include narration to create meaning, have an unseen narrator. Relying on the voice to tell facts - Problematic (Constituting or presenting a problem or difficulty.) - Uses real facts What distinguishes a documentary is the portrayal of sound and images of actuality - John Corner 1995 3. - Rely on reconstruction if real evidence cant be used as its not strong enough then a reconstruction can be made to re-enact a situation although must be based on fact. - There were documentaries made from a variety of subjects including Political, Historical, Cultural or religious topics. - Different from current affairs as the documentary subjects arent happening now. HISTORY - Genres being defined in the 1930s by John Grierson and his team at the general post office. - Coal Face was made by him, which he placed people in their own environments 4. - Topics such as housing problem - Based on real people in their 30s, which gives a glimpse into other peoples lives - Old style has persuasion which cant be used in modern documentaries GENRE - Important, helps to think of the target audience, where it fits in the schedule on TV and what time for it to be displayed based on the content. Important for TV broadcasters as they need to place adverts. - British documentaries renowned for their investigative journalism which often pose views of the government - Josh Grierson first created the term documentary and described it as the creativity of actuality - Arguments state how creative the actuality should be. - Problems arise over the authenticity of the content, more creative documentaries are less focused on the point they are trying to make and defer from the truth - Filmmakers argue that its faked, its impossible to capture real events as they are happening as they are unexpected, so therefore reconstructions become inevitable. - Film crew affects through the people watching them, the situation is no longer real. 5. I think the truth is what you actually come away with at the end of seeing a film. I mean its your truth that youre seeing. Anybody who makes a film is putting their own truth on the screen - Diane Tammes (Pictured) 6. - Documentary now covers are range of production methods. Its creativity has developed over the years. They cant agree on a set of ways to produce a documentary. - Analysts argue the term documentary to be replaced by non-functional programming. - Although some people disagree with the term documentary and the styles there is a common thread across all types of documentaries when makes them similar in many ways, some examples are as follows: - They use recorded sound - Real actual sound of the subjects, unseen narrator speaking about the content being displayed on the screen. - Not just about the facts - Sometimes socially critical arguments are portrayed - Invites the audience to make their own decisions Documentaries present facts about subjects, real events, people and places then creatively incorporates or comments on those realities and people' - Peter Mayeux 7. CURRENT AFFAIRS - Midway between documentaries and news such as newsnight, dispatches, panorama and horizon. - They generally range from 2 mins to 15 with documentaries longer than 30 mins classed as a documentary - Important for exploring weighty issues and social development however a growing concern is that they focus on rating driven populist issues. - ITV Trevor McDonald accused of sensational news and documenting more popular topics - Accusing the Current Affairs programs of distorting the truth and mis- representing the thoughts of the contributors Observationas - Camera is unseen with an eye witness - Places the audience as the eye witness - More believable - The people are treated as objects, only useful to the filmmaker 8. Interview - Rely on interviews, contrast for observations - Unbiased balanced argument - Interviewer can be seen or unseen - Pictures displayed on the screen to support what is being said - Intercut interviewer with observations - Camera work Dramatization - Always use drama - Dramatic event - Build a sense of conflict - Portray people and events but must be based on fact Mise en Scene - How its set up - Exposition (line of argument and its purpose, what is the argument?) - Description combined with commentary - Leave the audience to make their own mind up about what they think It is critical that filmmakers be rid of the fantasy that documentaries can be an unproblematic representation of reality and that truth can be conveniently dispensed and received like valium! - Dennis Orourke - Documentary Maker 9. - Since the beginning documentaries have struggled with the truth of reality and have counter claims of the truth. - John Corner, there needs to be evidence to support the case, you cant lie - Documentaries are real although have elements of fiction, some things have to be staged - Not good rating boosters - They are the first programs to be cut if the television channel money is tight - Common themes for documentaries are sex, violence and law and order - Most popular documentary is Violence in America - Cant place adverts if content is controversial - Documentaries, Documentary makers and the audience are in a triangle Triangulation - Covers societies victims - Use humans as evidence as their expositions - Ken Loach made the documentary called Cathy come home: o This changed the law for homeless people at the time o It affected society o It was peoples right to know what was happening - Documentaries expected and encouraged the audience to take action on the problems 10. TYPES OF DOCUMENTARY - Fully narrated o Direct mode of address o Voiceover makes sense of onscreen o Exposition o Voice of god meaning we believe everything the narrator says - Fly on the wall o Rely on observations only o No commentary or narration o Recording without knowledge o Audience watching something happening, makes us feel like we are there o Appears to be the truth (distortion of the truth) o Heavily edited - Mixed Documentary o Interviews, Observations, Narration to advance the argument o News reporter style narration o Criticism for objecting reality o Most popular type of documentary 11. - Self Reflective o Subject acknowledges the camera o Presenter in front of the camera, its more personal to them o Confusing, fall into narcissism (Ross Kemp, Robson Green, Louis Theroux) o Self publicity o About the filmmaker more than the subject - Docudrama o Reenactment of events that have happened o Based on fact through a fictional narrative(Hillsborough) o Critics claim to represent the truth, only ever hope is to deliver fiction o Not filming actuality o Misleading to be passed as reality, in some cases dangerous to the viewers who believe it to be real and act accordingly - Docusoap o Become popular in the last 10 years o Follow people around (Airport, Katie Price, Kardashians) o Organised in the UK o Dont seek to explore topics, they eavesdrop o Low cost 12. DISNEYFICATION (Steven Barnetts theory) - Need to broadcast happy things - Sparkly instead of challenging society - Dumbed down, safe for adverts, cheap T.V. - Audiences are used to it - They have traditional conventions of narrative - Strong focus on conflict, characters, music, sound effects - Have a clear beginning, middle and end Beginning 1. Central question 2. Action footage Middle 1. Case becomes complicated 2. Conflict strengthened 3. Arguments offer an alternative view 4. Show evidence End 1. Exposition should be apparent 2. Resolve views 3. Conflict between different people with different backgrounds 4. Reconstructions 13. - Music, sound effects, emotional effects - Selection and construction, who to interview, time to make the documentary, realistic about the subject, selection when editing. Minimum of 5 interviews, knowledge of the subject, interview is sat correctly in the framing. - Cutaways relevant to what the interviewee is saying.