Independent study


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Independent Study Overview.

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Independent study

  1. 1. Independent Study LO: to explore the assessment requirements and conventions of documentary.
  2. 2. General guidance <ul><li>The independent study is worth 25% of the final mark. This component is based on part 2 of the course (film theory and history), but will also draw to some extent on part 1 (textual analysis). The aim of the independent study is to encourage students to engage in some depth with a cinematic tradition that is unfamiliar to their own culture. </li></ul><ul><li>You must produce a script for a complete short documentary production exploring an aspect of film theory or film history, based on the study of films from more than one country. The documentary should be targeted at an audience of film students in the 14 to 18 years age range. Among the topics students may choose to investigate are: </li></ul><ul><li>genre </li></ul><ul><li>theme </li></ul><ul><li>direction </li></ul><ul><li>use of sound </li></ul><ul><li>colour </li></ul><ul><li>editing </li></ul><ul><li>lighting. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>You will need to: </li></ul><ul><li>formulate a specific area of study </li></ul><ul><li>choose suitable films for study </li></ul><ul><li>develop an hypothesis </li></ul><ul><li>read different texts actively for different purposes </li></ul><ul><li>support their ideas with evidence and analysis </li></ul><ul><li>look for what is actually there in source material, rather than what they want to find </li></ul><ul><li>organize their material right from the start. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>The outcome of the independent study is a script for a complete short documentary production exploring an aspect of film theory or film history, based on a study of films from more than one country. </li></ul><ul><li>It is clear that there are two parts to the preparation: </li></ul><ul><li>independent research into their chosen topic </li></ul><ul><li>presentation of their research in script form. </li></ul><ul><li>I will: </li></ul><ul><li>teach the documentary genre </li></ul><ul><li>teach you how to present a script in an appropriate format </li></ul><ul><li>teach research methodologies and offer a suitable research environment in your classroom. </li></ul>
  5. 5. What is a ‘documentary’? <ul><li>Documentary film describes a broad category of non-fictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record. A &quot;documentary film&quot; was originally a movie shot on film stock —the only medium available—but now includes video and digital productions that can be either direct-to-video or made for a television program . &quot;Documentary&quot; has been described as a &quot;filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, and mode of audience reception&quot; that is continually evolving and is without clear boundaries. </li></ul>
  6. 6. History: <ul><li>In popular myth, the word, documentary was coined by Scottish documentarian John Grierson in his review of Robert Flaherty 's film Moana (1926), published in the New York Sun on 8 February 1926, written by &quot;The Moviegoer&quot; (a pen name for Grierson). [3] </li></ul><ul><li>Grierson's principles of documentary were that cinema's potential for observing life could be exploited in a new art form; that the &quot;original&quot; actor and &quot;original&quot; scene are better guides than their fiction counterparts to interpreting the modern world; and that materials &quot;thus taken from the raw&quot; can be more real than the acted article. In this regard, Grierson's views align with Vertov's contempt for dramatic fiction as &quot;bourgeois excess&quot;, though with considerably more subtlety. Grierson's definition of documentary as &quot;creative treatment of actuality&quot; has gained some acceptance, though it presents philosophical questions about documentaries containing stagings and reenactments. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Actuality: <ul><li>Early film (pre-1900) was dominated by the novelty of showing an event. They were single-shot moments captured on film: a train entering a station, a boat docking, or factory workers leaving work. These short films were called &quot;actuality&quot; films; the term &quot;documentary&quot; was not coined until 1926. Very little storytelling took place before the 20th century. Many of the first films, such as those made by Auguste and Louis Lumière , were a minute or less in length, due to technological limitations. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Scenic: <ul><li>1900–1920 </li></ul><ul><li>Travelogue films were very popular in the early part of the 20th century. They were infrequently known as &quot;scenics.&quot; Scenics were among the most popular sort of films at the time. An important early film to move beyond the concept of the scenic was In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914), which embraced primitivism and exoticism in a staged story presented as truthful re-enactments of the life of Native Americans . </li></ul>
  9. 9. Romanticism: <ul><li>With Robert J. Flaherty 's Nanook of the North in 1922, documentary film embraced romanticism ; Flaherty filmed a number of heavily staged romantic films during this time period, often showing how his subjects would have lived 100 years earlier and not how they lived right then. For instance, in Nanook of the North Flaherty did not allow his subjects to shoot a walrus with a nearby shotgun, but had them use a harpoon instead. Some of Flaherty's staging, such as building a roofless igloo for interior shots, was done to accommodate the filming technology of the time. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Kino-Pravda <ul><li>Dziga Vertov was central to the Soviet Kino-Pravda (literally, &quot;cinematic truth&quot;) newsreel series of the 1920s. Vertov believed the camera — with its varied lenses, shot-counter shot editing, time-lapse, ability to slow motion, stop motion and fast-motion — could render reality more accurately than the human eye, and made a film philosophy out of it. </li></ul>
  11. 11. News-Reel: <ul><li>Newsreel tradition </li></ul><ul><li>The newsreel tradition is important in documentary film; newsreels were also sometimes staged but were usually re-enactments of events that had already happened, not attempts to steer events as they were in the process of happening. For instance, much of the battle footage from the early 20th century was staged; the cameramen would usually arrive on site after a major battle and re-enact scenes to film them. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Propaganda: <ul><li>1920s–1940s </li></ul><ul><li>The propagandist tradition consists of films made with the explicit purpose of persuading an audience of a point. One of the most notorious propaganda films is Leni Riefenstahl 's film Triumph of the Will (1935), which chronicled the 1934 and was commissioned by Adolf Hitler . Leftist filmmakers Joris Ivens and Henri Storck directed Borinage (1931) about the Belgian coal mining region. Luis Buñuel directed a &quot; surrealist &quot; documentary Las Hurdes (1933). </li></ul><ul><li>Pare Lorentz's The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936) and The River (1938) and Willard Van Dyke 's The City (1939) are notable New Deal productions, each presenting complex combinations of social and ecological awareness, government propaganda, and leftist viewpoints. Frank Capra 's Why We Fight (1942–1944) series was a newsreel series in the United States, commissioned by the government to convince the U.S. public that it was time to go to war. Constance Bennett and her husband Henri de la Falaise produced two feature length documentaries, Legong : Dance of the Virgins (1935) filmed in Bali , and Kilou the Killer Tiger (1936) filmed in Indochina . </li></ul>
  13. 13. Verite: <ul><li>Cinéma vérité (or the closely related direct cinema ) was dependent on some technical advances in order to exist: light, quiet and reliable cameras, and portable sync sound. </li></ul><ul><li>Cinéma vérité and similar documentary traditions can thus be seen, in a broader perspective, as a reaction against studio-based film production constraints. Shooting on location, with smaller crews, would also happen in the French New Wave , the filmmakers taking advantage of advances in technology allowing smaller, handheld cameras and synchronized sound to film events on location as they unfolded. </li></ul><ul><li>Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are important differences between cinéma vérité ( Jean Rouch ) and the North American &quot; Direct Cinema &quot; (or more accurately &quot; Cinéma direct &quot;), pioneered by, among others, Canadians Allan King , Michel Brault and Pierre Perrault [ citation needed ] , and Americans Robert Drew , Richard Leacock , Frederick Wiseman and Albert and David Maysles . </li></ul><ul><li>The directors of the movement take different viewpoints on their degree of involvement with their subjects. Kopple and Pennebaker, for instance, choose non-involvement (or at least no overt involvement), and Perrault, Rouch, Koenig, and Kroitor favor direct involvement or even provocation when they deem it necessary. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Contemporary ‘blockbusters’ <ul><li>Box office analysts have noted that this film genre has become increasingly successful in theatrical release with films such as Fahrenheit 9/11 , Super Size Me , Earth , March of the Penguins , and An Inconvenient Truth among the most prominent examples. Compared to dramatic narrative films, documentaries typically have far lower budgets which makes them attractive to film companies because even a limited theatrical release can be highly profitable. </li></ul><ul><li>The nature of documentary films has expanded in the past 20 years from the cinema verité style introduced in the 1960s in which the use of portable camera and sound equipment allowed an intimate relationship between filmmaker and subject. The line blurs between documentary and narrative and some works are very personal for both director and subject. </li></ul><ul><li>However, directorial manipulation of documentary subjects has been noted since the work of Flaherty, and may be endemic to the form. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Ways of story telling: <ul><li>There is no one way of telling a story using documentary, but there are different ways of addressing the subject matter and the audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Documentaries often attempt to obscure the fact that they are highly constructed products, resulting from the rendering down of hours of film and the employment of careful film and sound editing. </li></ul><ul><li>They construct a narrative in order to tell their story to the audience. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Expository <ul><li>A very traditional form of documentary in which an unseen speaker performs a voiceover commentary that literally explains the images that we are seeing. It is the form often associated with wild life or historic documentaries, in which the viewer might feel in need of information about what they are seeing. The audience is not particularly ‘empowered’ by this kind of approach, finding itself in a subordinate role listening to the version of events that the filmmakers choose to prioritise. </li></ul>
  17. 17. Observational <ul><li>This is the mode associated with ‘fly-on-the-wall’ type documentaries. They appear to have been filmed in ‘real time’, as if the camera has happened upon events while those involved are seemingly unaware of the filming going on. The filmmakers correspondingly attempt not to interfere in what is underway. We do not hear their questions and we do not see them. There is no voiceover telling us what to think or what conclusions we should draw. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Interactive <ul><li>Many documentaries feature a certain amount of interactive mode filmmaking. Such sequences will involve those being filmed responding to questions asked of them. In such interviews, the questions of the filmmaker may be left in or edited out. This may be a way that individuals in a film can make their own case, but it is also a mode that can act to undermine the interviewees, making them look foolish or deluded. Their interpretation of events or personal account may be rendered to seem trustworthy or untrustworthy depending on the context of surrounding shots or the nature of the statements being made in their own right. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Reflective <ul><li>This is a style that is usually associated with more experimental documentaries, ones in which the filmmakers are interested as much in the process of making a film, of how reality can be constructed, as the actual content. At the simplest level the film may make no attempt to hide aspects of its construction - showing us the camera people for example. </li></ul>