Documentaries presentsome form of reality orinformation regarding afactual topic primarily toinform or educate itsintended audience but alsoto entertain in certaincircumstances.The phrase ‘Documentary’was coined by ‘JohnGrierson’ in 1926.
Actuality: Archival footage:Real life events, places and people Obtained from film or libraryNot like fictional films Inserted into documentaryRecord of real events as they unfold Something that they haven’t filmed Show historical events or add detail withoutExposition: additional filmingOccurs at the beginning and introducesimportant themes and also introduces the Reconstructions:viewer to the content Artificial scenes of an event that has actuallyExplains the problem happened Generally provide factual information.Voice Over:Commentary by the film makerHelps to explain things to the viewerInterviews:Common documentary techniqueWill mostly choose content that supports themain themeVox-pops: Views of the public (most noncredited)
Realist documentaries:Minimal treatment on recorded material.E.g. ‘Fly-on-the-wall’Formalist documentaries:Particular narrative structure/story onrecorded materialSubjective documentaries:Express the film makers personal visionNote: Any one documentary can mix thesetechniques.
How the story is told:Explores conventions of: Closed structure:•Genre Definite ending•Character Clear conclusion for the audience.•Form•Time Circular structure: Narrative begins at the endStructure: Arriving at a journey where they started.Linear structure:BeginningMiddleEndOpen structure:Audience are left to wonder what happensnext and make sense of it themselves.
Vladimir Propp:•Driven by the characters, using a set ofnarrative functions•Often in Hollywood Disney films (happyever after)•8 types:HeroVillainPrincessFatherDispatcher (sends hero off)Donor (Gives hero something to help him)SidekickFalse hero
Roland Barthes:•Described narrative as a series of codesthat are read and interpreted by theaudience:•Action code-Audience knows, doesn’t needexplaining•Enigma code-Something hidden from theaudience•Semic code-Audience recognise throughconnotations•Symbolic code-Something that symbolisesa more abstract concept•Cultural code-Read with understanding dueto cultural awarenessCertain words understood by certaincultures.
Tzvetan Todorov:•Describes narrative as going fromequilibrium to disequilibrium back to analtered equilibrium•Equilibrium-Every day life•Disruption-Something happens•Conflict-Solving the problem (climax)•Resolution-Problem is sorted•New equilibrium-Back to normal (but neverthe same). A new normal.
Claude Levi-Strauss•Describes narrative as created by constantconflict of binary opposites.
How we can apply this to ourdocumentary:Our documentary will be highlyinformative, but we feel that by makingthe visual and audio aspect of thedocumentary interesting it can also beentertaining for the audience. Given thatour primary audience is the typicalcollege student it is an important factorto consider in order to keep theminterested and make them want to carryon watching the documentary.