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  • 1. TV DocumentariesEmma Riddiough
  • 2. What is a tv documentary? The purpose of a documentary is to document, i.e. Report with evidence ofsomething that has happened It can show this by using actuality footage, or reconstruction; e.g. 9/11 attackrecording, etc. It can use a narrators voice over to anchor the meaning, or rely on theparticipants themselves, with occasional interjection by the narrator The term documentary was coined by film director John Gearson in 1936about the South Sea Island He defined documentary as the creative treatment of actuality or reality Documentaries are not just about facts. Instead facts are used to createsocially critical arguments, making the audience come to there ownconclusions
  • 3. Types of documentaries Fully Narrated:- when the voice over is used to make sense of thevisuals, and dominates there meaning; e.g. National History Documentaries Fly on the Wall:- where the cameras film the subjects without interference;e.g. 24 hours in A+E Mixed Documentary:- this uses a combination of interviews, observation andnarration; e.g. The devil made me do it Self-Reflective:- where the subjects of the documentary acknowledge thepresence of the camera, and often speak directly to the film maker; e.g.Directly to the film makers role in constructing a view of reality – Teen Mom Docudrama:- a reconstruction or a re-enactment as they graduallyhappened; e.g. Crime watch Docusoaps:- these programmes follow the daily lives of particular individualswithin an organisation; e.g. Airline Reality TV:- is a combination of information and entertainment, and was firstused for news magazine programs; e.g. Miami Ink
  • 4. Features of documentariesJohn Carner – there are five central elements to documentaries which are: Observation:- the programme makers pretend that the camera is unseen orignored by the people taking part in the events; e.g. It places the audienceas an “eye witness” to the events The Interview:- TV documentaries rely on interviews. The intervieweeaddresses the unseen interviewer instead of the audience. Interviews areintercut with images of observation to illustrate what they are talking about Dramastation:- All documentaries use a sense of drama throughout theobservation element Mis-en-scene:- documentary makers carefully compose shots so that theycontain images they want the audience to see Explosion:- The line of argument, and the way the argument “unfolds”Gatekeeping Gatekeeping is about the selection and rejection of information
  • 5. Types of Narrative StructureOpen vs. Closed Open – where there are questions left unanswered (soap opera) Closed – where no questions are left unanswered (finding nemo)Single Strand vs. Multi-Strand Single Strands – there is only one narrative thread (finding nemo) Multi-Strands – more than one thread, and sometimes they do converge butnot always (soap opera)Linear vs. Non-Linear Linear – chronological order; e.g. Order of time – adverts Non-Linear – doesn’t follow chronological order; e.g. Flash forward /backward; e.g. The time travellers wife Circular – at the end of the narrative has gone full circle; e.g. Dead of Night

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