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Research and Preparation for our Documentary

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  • 1. Notes on the Documentary Genre:• Documentaries – A documentary presents information about factualtopics with a variety of aims.• Actuality – The term for film footage of real life events, places andpeople.• Exposition – The exposition occurs at the beginning in a documentary,introducing the important themes of the film; it creates the viewers firstimpression which can be done by the shots being specifically positionedto make the audience believe something.• Voice-over – A commentary by the film producer which can be spokenwhilst the camera is filming or added to the soundtrack duringproduction/editing. The film maker can speak directly to the audiencewhich may explain/set the scene.• Interviews – Exchanges between the film producer and general peoplespeaking directly about certain events from, most likely, promptedquestions.• Interviews with experts - Exchanges between the film producer and aqualified interviewee who may authenticate or disagree with viewsexpressed in the documentary with their own knowledge.• Archival footage – (or stock footage) obtained from film library andinserted in a documentary to show historical events.• Reconstructions – Artificial scenes of an event which are reconstructedto portray an example of a true event.
  • 2. Elements of Direct Cinema:• Fly on the wall (being able to freelyobserve a situation without beingnoticed by what is going on e.g. theaudience are not spoken to)• No voice-overs• No dissolve edits• No interviews• No rehearsals prior to filming• No film lights• Aimed at objectivity
  • 3. Narrative Theory:• Linear structure – A linear structure has a beginning, a middle and an end.• Open structure – An open structure is a structure that leaves the audience tomake sense of it themselves e.g. the film Inception.• Closed structure – A closed structure has a clear conclusion for the audience.• Circular Structure – A circular structure has the narrative beginning at the endof events e.g. the audience take a journey back to where they (the film) started,for example, the film Pulp Fiction. Narrative Theorists:• Vladimir Propp – He looked at folk tales and found a common 8 characterswithin them: Hero (protagonist), Villain (antagonist), Princess, Father, Dispatcher(sends hero off) Donor (gives hero help), sidekick (helper) and a false hero(pretend villain).• Roland Barthes – He describes narrative as a series of codes that areinterpreted by the audience: Action code (self-explanatory scene), Enigma code(something hidden from audience), Semic code (recognition throughconnotations), Symbolic code (something symbolises a more abstract concept)and the Cultural code (understanding due to cultural awareness).• Tzvetan todorov – He describes the narrative as going from equilibrium todisequilibrium back to an altered equilibrium e.g. the film Love + Hate.• Claude Levi-Strauss – He describes the narrative to be created by constantconflict of binary opposites e.g. Love and Hate, Black and White, Man andWoman, Peace and War etc.
  • 4. Documentary: Ready, Steady, Drink:As within our documentary we are only doing the opening five minutes, we decided to have a lookat the opening few minutes of a documentary on binge drinking from you tube to see how sound,mis en scene, editing and camera is used to introduce the topic but also how it is relevant to thetarget audience/age of people being filmed. (see next page for results).The first few minutes of the documentary Ready Steady Drink will help us with the elements…• Mis en scene because when introducing the topic the lighting is quite dark representing a party nightlife and an upbeat atmosphere but then goes really bright when the topic becomes moreserious when discussing the consequences of binge drinking in the hospital. Also the costume andsurroundings for the hospital scene create an intelligent, serious atmosphere. This will help withinour documentary as we will consider the lighting and costume to suit certain events.• Camera because a handheld camera is used in the exposition to create an informal, partyatmosphere when Emily Attack is with her friends but as the more serious concepts of bingedrinking unravel, a tripod is used for a more serious atmosphere. This will help us when filming ourdocumentary as we will consider when we should use a handheld camera and when we should use atripod depending on the situation.• Sound because at the beginning of the documentary an upbeat party song is used to link in withthe mis en scene and camera shots to create an informal, party atmosphere. However, the viewsexpressed and the voice-over is quite serious compared with the music but the music volume islowered when there is the voice-over which creates a more serious atmosphere for when theconcepts being expressed are serious. This will help us with our documentary as we will considerwhat sound to use and the volume of it to set the tone we are trying to create.• The editing begins with medium paced shots merging into one another of people drinking andpartying to introduce the topic. Then there is a still of the title of the documentary for a few secondsto give the audience chance to take it in and then it dissolves into the actual start of thedocumentary almost representing a difference/break from the ‘whats coming up’ to the actual start.Therefore, we will consider how we should edit our documentary according to linking certain shotstogether.• Target Audience because the documentary is hosted by Emily Attack who is a young adultinterviewing and exploring binge drinking from people a similar age to her. The target audience isalso most likely going to be young adults as they will be interested in what binge drinking can do toyou as it is relevant to them. So as we are teenagers ourselves we will look at creating our topicbased on people of a similar age to us and aiming it at a target audience of people who are goingthrough the same situation and who are of a similar age.
  • 5. Notes on the Documentary Genre will help us as we will be knowledgeable of all these terms and be able to consider them when producing our documentary. For example, it is important for us to consider the exposition and what we want the audiences first impression to be and how to create this. Also we will consider when we would add our voice-over, whilst filming or whilst editing it afterwards. Also we will consider what to ask in our interviews and how to organise them e.g. for experts or just for vox pops of the general public.Elements of Direct Cinema will most likely not be included within our documentarybecause we will need a voice-over, dissolve edits and interviews and it will need tobe planned. Also it will not be in the style of a fly on the wall documentary as theaudience will be noticed because it is specifically going to be created to show to anaudience. However, these elements were interesting to consider the fact that wecould have created our documentary in this way and that there are currentdocumentaries portrayed in this style.The Narrative Theory will help us within our documentary as it is important toconsider all of the possible structures that we could use to portray our documentarybut also that these structures are used to display documentaries. The structure of ourdocumentary will most likely be a Linear structure with a closed structure but it couldalso be an open structure as the audience may be left with no actual answer and justtheir own opinion. The Narrative Theorists won’t really contribute to our documentarythat much as the theories may suit films more rather than documentaries. However,our documentary may include the cultural code from the theorist Roland Barthes asthe audience may have an understanding of our documentary topic due to theircultural awareness. It may also include the conflict of binary opposites, by Claude Levi-Strauss, as we may look at the life of once person that opposes to that of anotherperson.
  • 6. Illegal University Social Downloading fees/places Networking Youth Attitudes Unemployment to Sexuality A Spider Diagram Domestic Alcohol/Drug of Documentary Violence Abuse Topic Ideas: Fashion Eating Disorders Racism Teen 2011 Pregnancy RiotsOut of all of the topics the one we felt was most under discussed is Teen Pregnancy. We feel that there isnot enough emphasis put on why teenagers fall pregnant and the views that society then have ofteenaged parents.We believe this topic will be perfect for our target audience as with Facebook, Twitter and other socialnetworking sites it’s become easy to keep track of people you know who are pregnant. All three of us inthe group have experiences of this at present and feel that our target audience will also.

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