Documentary - Research and
The use of social networking is continuously rising. Concurrently, modern
day youths are becoming increasingly dependent on their mobile phones
and computers, more specifically, social networks. Many believe
teenagers live in a virtual reality, seeking gratification from the attention
they receive online where the options of uploading content, instantaneous
communication and even meeting new unknown people are all possible.
Alongside this internet revolution, negative aspects have emerged, for
example: cyber bullying, a new form of bullying online in which the guilty
party ‘hide behind their keyboards’ to abuse their victims. With adults
often misunderstanding the evolving youth culture, a predominant
generation gap has developed as a result of this. Due to this topic of
debate being a current ‘issue’, I believe a documentary covering the
impact of the uprising of social networking would give an insight into the
issues surrounding this topic to an audience. I hope to research
demographics for a suited audience at a later date.
(Also available to watch at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egfiontF-Js)
Developed by an American documentary theorist, Bill
Nichols. ‘Documentary Modes’ are spilt into six different
types of documentary, although all documentaries can
overlap into different modes. Researching and watching
documentaries from such modes allows me to see the
variety in styles, which will help me later when it comes to
choosing my own documentary style.
(This is also available to view on Slideshare at
• ‘The poetic mode moved away from continuity editing and instead organized
images of the material world by means of associations and patterns, both in
terms of time and space. Well-rounded characters— ‘life-like people’—were
absent; instead, people appeared in these films as entities, just like any other,
that are found in the material world. The films were fragmentary, impressionistic,
• Joris Ivens’ Rain (1928) is an example of a poetic documentary. (
• In a way, this has inspired my documentary through the use of shots that are
directly about the subject. In Rain, every shot, in some form, contains rain, so
everything is related with presenting the theme throughout. Using this element of
the poetic mode, I’ll be using shots of everything associated with social
networks, such as mobile phones, computers etc. to establish the theme of the
documentary. Although this form of documentary is an interesting way to
construct a film, this mode gives no information and seems to mainly focus on
the visuals. Whereas in my documentary I want information to be key with the
visual to be an added extra.
• Documentaries of the expository mode speak directly to the viewer, commonly in the form
of a voiceover or titles. They normally are an authoritative commentary which proposes a
strong argument and point of view. Additionally, the voiceover may be of an omniscient
(voice-of-God) like position.
• ‘Images are often not paramount; they exist to advance the argument. The rhetoric
insistently presses upon us to read the images in a certain fashion. Historical documentaries
in this mode deliver an unproblematic and ‘objective’ account and interpretation of past
• Examples of the expository mode documentaries are: Ken Burns’ Civil War (1990 - TV
show) and Robert Hughes’ The Shock of the New (1980)
• In Robert Hughes’ The Shock of the New, Hughes possesses a very authoritative voice
which gives off a believable tone in his narration. He gives definitions for the people who
are uneducated on the subject, and goes into great detail with his explanations, which I
believe is essential for a documentary because the point is to educate. The element of this
mode that will most likely inspire my documentary will be the authoritative voiceover as a
way to convey information to the audience. Although effective because it matches the
theme of that specific episode, there are particular parts of the documentary that I wouldn’t
personally choose to use in my documentary, such as how Hughes is also present in front
of the camera. Here, Hughes mixes documentary modes, using both elements of the
Expository and Reflexive Mode, this allows him to cleverly edit each episode by having
auditory narrative to then cut to him on screen continuing his script. Other elements used in
• The observational mode emerged when filmmakers saw the poetic mode as too unreal and saw the expository
mode as too instructive. The aim of the observational mode is to simply and spontaneously observe life with
minimum intervention, very fly-on-the-wall like. No opinions are ever given, leaving the viewer to make their own
• ‘The first observational docs date back to the 1960’s; the technological developments which made them possible
include mobile lightweight cameras and portable sound recording equipment for synchronised sound. Often, this
mode of film eschewed voice-over commentary, post-synchronised dialogue and music, or re-enactments. The
films aimed for immediacy, intimacy, and revelation of individual human character in ordinary life situations.’
• An example of an observational documentary is Albert & David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin’s Gimme Shelter
• In Gimme Shelter, they introduce participants (members of the band) through creative credits (As shown in the
images below). Even though they’re of simple colour and font, the editor places the credit in different positions on
screen to fit the frame. This is particularly effective because it makes the shot as a whole much more interesting
as it encourages the viewer to be actively watching the documentary by focusing on different parts of the screen.
Even though this is a small part of the production, this will inspire my documentary by encouraging me to focus on
tiny aspects, such as the credits, to create better shots as a whole.
• The participatory mode of filmmaking believes that it is
obvious that the act of filmmaking will influence and alter the
events that are being captured, so these films have the act of
participant observation. The encounter between filmmaker
and subject becomes a critical element for the film.
• ‘The filmmaker steps out from behind the cloak of voice-over
commentary, steps away from poetic meditation, steps down
from a fly-on-the-wall perch, and becomes a social actor
(almost) like any other’ - Bill Nichols.
• A filmmaker well known for this documentary type is filmmaker
• In a reflexive documentary the filmmaker is present in front of the
camera and provides a narrative to the documentary. In most cases the
viewer is just as interested about how the film is constructed as they are
to the actual content.
• ‘It is the most self-conscious of all the modes, and is highly skeptical of
‘realism.’ It may use Brechtian alienation strategies to jar us, in order to
‘defamiliarize’ what we are seeing and how we are seeing it.’ (Source:
• The reflexive mode interested me most, so I researched further into this
documentary type. I selected Nick Broomfield, although he’s known for
participatory documentaries, his film Tracking Down Maggie is a brilliant
example of a reflexive documentary (analysis on the next slides).
Tracking Down Maggie
This is also available to view at: http://www.slideshare.net/LoisEmilyHunt/analysis-on-tracking-down-maggie-nick-broomfield
Documentary Genre and
Tracking Down Maggie is a reflexive documentary. Broomfield acknowledges his presence in
front of the camera and provides a narrative to the documentary. Reflexive documentaries are
normally associated with experimental documentaries, but Broomfield’s is more of a real-life
This documentary also takes the Participatory Mode with the filmmaker and crew (attempting) to
interact with the subject, it is interview dominated throughout and features the use of archive
material. This is very similar to my vision of a documentary by it being interview dominated as it
gives the audience something to critically respond to, then they can choose to agree or
disagree, which I believe is an efficient way to engage the audience. Tracking Down Maggie
takes on multiple modes, it will hopefully encourage me to also not stick to a particular, and
even take on more than one, documentary type.
Tracking Down Maggie solely focuses on one controversial subject - Margaret Thatcher. At the
time the documentary was produced (1990s) Thatcher was one of the most disputable
politicians in modern Britain, with many having opposing opinions of her. It could be argued this
singular focus engages an audience because whether people like or dislike her, there is a huge
interest around her, so when the documentary film was broadcast, it got many views and
responses. This is different to my vision for a documentary, I will be looking at a number of
issues surrounding my subject of social networking, for example, I’ll be dealing with aspects
such as cyber bullying, modern communication and culture have been shaped through social
networking. Just as Thatcher was culturally relevant in the 1990’s, so is my documentary focus.
Camera Shots, Composition and
MovementSlow motion at important bits in the documentary, it was vital to use when
Broomfield needed to pick out and give out information about certain people in
Zooms in to the relevant aspects to stress the importance of them, and to show
the audience the truth since it is controversial. Zooms were also used on
interviewees as the information they were giving were important to Broomfield’s
views of Thatcher.
Handheld shots to show it’s real life, possibly to interest people since it is
controversial. There are no reconstructions and so the handheld camera shots
Effective establishing shots (Shot of top of building, tilts down to the doors).
Historic clips from previous broadcasts were used throughout. The selection of
clips potentially show bias from Broomfield. For example: Broomfield in his
narration mentions that Thatcher displayed derogatory attitudes towards women.
This statement is then supported by clips of Thatcher being surrounded by men
in the boardroom and then a clip of her in an interview discussing the role of
women in paid work and domestic work (Time:17:05-).
Although I believe using historic clips can be very effective, using something
similar to this for my documentary wouldn’t be relevant as social networking and
the internet is a fairly new thing so such archive material wouldn’t be available
Props, Setting and
LightingIt was created in the 1990’s, the equipment is outdated for a current audience
watching it in 2013. But the target audience, most likely to adults interested in
politics, may not care for high tech aspects such as this, as they are likely to care
more about the content over the cinematic factors.
It looks low budget due to the ‘behind the scenes’ nature of the documentary. As a
Channel 4 production, I would expect it to be high value and focus on professional
and restrictive content due to Channel 4’s popularity. However, it seems Channel 4
allow creativity and freedom of the filmmakers in order to produce what they want to
make, from their website they state: ‘Channel 4 has world-class reputation in
Documentaries based on its history of bold storytelling and innovative use of
technology. Over the past thirty years, many of our most significant commissions
have been the result of taking on ideas no one else would have been brave enough
to try. And our biggest single note to producers has always been to bring us the most
daring and controversial ideas’. Judging by the popularity of Channel 4’s
documentaries, this approach is shown to be successful.
The documentary is set in various locations that are relevant to the investigation,
such as Thatcher’s hometown. The crew followed Thatcher in hope to speak to her,
even to and around the USA. As they filmed in different environments, the use of
establishing and handheld shots increased when unpredicted filming occurred,
capturing the spontaneous nature of the documentary.
People that knew her, many characters to give different viewpoints on
Margaret Thatcher. The presenter, Nick Broomfield, is the constant
character throughout, to guide the viewer through her story. But as I’m
possibly moving towards making a Expository style documentary, having a
presenter used in this way won’t be needed.
Broomfield wanted to interview specific people such as Thatcher’s children,
due the conspiracies based around her son. As Broomfield tried getting
someone who is involved with the subject, this could possibly inspire my
work in the sense that I’m hoping to interview people who are involved and
use social networks.
Members of the public are asked questions in hope of them having
knowledge of Thatcher. For example: one woman was interviewed as she
had Thatcher’s old toilet.
Information is given through the narration, which is what I’m hoping to do in my own
documentary. I feel it’s an effective way of portraying information because it adds to the
visuals. It also makes the editing process more interesting because it would allow me to
select which shots to use to match the narration, which would hopefully result in me
creating my own editing style.
Casual interviews with people that knew Thatcher were conducted in a spontaneous,
seemingly unorganised manner, to make it friendly to get more out of the interviewees.
Focuses mainly on the interviewees and not the interviewer, so that their perspectives only
matter. This is how I intend my documentary to go: totally cutting out me asking the
questions, as a result, I’ll need to find a creative way to show the questions.
Random events unfold throughout the documentary, this makes the structure seem
unpredictable and unorganised, which is what I believe Broomfield intended to do as a part
of the reflexive mode. Although this suited very well with the documentary, I’d prefer my film
to be very structured and organised, with my interviews being set up in a certain layout.
Nick Broomfield narrates what is happening, to give an overview. His narration is
authoritative, encouraging the audience to think in a specific way.
When a documentary is based on one person only, such as Tracking Down Maggie, the
documentary tackles specific aspects of their life. This documentary tackled personal
aspects, family matters, failed attempts at talking to Thatcher and her employees,
interviewing ‘friends’ (conveniently for Broomfield’s negative bias, they all seemed to have
speak slightly negatively of her) and members of the public.
• ‘Performative documentaries stress subjective experience and emotional
response to the world. They are strongly personal, unconventional, perhaps
poetic and/or experimental, and might include hypothetical enactments of events
designed to make us experience what it might be like for us to possess a certain
specific perspective on the world that is not our own’. (Source:
• An example of a performative documentary is Alain Resnais’ Nuit et Brouillard
(Translation: Night And Fog) (1955)
• From the opening shot of Nuit et Brouillard, the performative mode is
established straight away. The shot contains what seems to be an establishing
wide shot of a field (similar to what would be expected of a poetic documentary,
where scenic shots are common), but with a simple camera movement, the
camera tracks out to reveal an uninviting fence. With the context of the
documentary, we know it’s a film on Nazi Germany’s death camps. The use of
music in the shot, this shows the heightened emotion that are stereotypically
present in performative documentaries. Comparing concepts of this
documentary and mine, if I took on the performative mode in my documentary, I
feel it wouldn’t be the appropriate mode to use when my documentary is on a
rather simple concept, whereas documentary is based on a historic and emotive
Documentary Mode Conclusion
To conclude, upon researching into Nichol’s theory of documentary modes, I think whilst
creating my documentary it will relate to the ‘Expository mode’ because I intend to use a
voiceover to guide the viewer through the documentary. However, I will not fully conform
with this mode as the main feature of a Expository documentary is being authoritative,
meaning an argument will be forced upon the viewer. I do not want this to occur because
I believe the audience should gain their own opinion. With my current structure plan, my
documentary seems to focus mainly on the negative aspects of social networking. So it
could be suggested that I, unintentionally, am being authoritative with the arguably biased
content I’ll be selecting to use.
One of my aims is to educate an older audience about youth culture, so a possible
outcome of my finished film could be creating more of a generation gap through adults
seeing the dangers of the internet. This is similar to the Magic Bullet Theory, otherwise
known as the Hypodermic Needle Model, meaning that a message from the media is
‘injected’ into the audience’s mind. It could be argued I’d exactly be doing this, creating
power from the message, thus making the viewer wholly accepting it. Consequently, I’m
aiming to show an equal amount of positives and negatives to create a balance.
Although I looked into the Reflexive mode a great deal (Tracking Down Maggie), I feel this
style isn’t what I want from a documentary on social networking because I’m aiming to
construct my documentary in a different way to a Reflexive, for example: I won’t be using
handheld shots and the interviews with people won’t be spontaneous as they were in
Tracking Down Maggie. However, Broomfield’s documentary is interview based, which is
what I also want from my film.
At the start of the year there were multiple class discussions on the topics of
the documentary each group hoped to produce. These discussion followed
individual researched into documentary filmmakers and their work, such as
David Attenborough, Louis Therox, Nick Broomfield, Professor Brian Cox and
Ross Kemp. The main aim from this class research was to equip us with
understanding of the different documentary types, genre, choice of camera
shots, movement and composition, which we learned varied from documentary
to documentary, with certain filmmakers creating their own style. In the
following slides are the main ideas which were raised and developed in such
What Purpose does Education Serve for
An obvious reason for school and education is to teach children. But looking at education
sociologically, it has different purposes, for example: secondary socialisation. So we looked at
creating a documentary of an overview of what school serves other than educating.
Documentary, Genre and Modes:
Observational documentary, observing life with minimum intervention, without interrupting
pupils, so they don’t act differently on camera.
Voiceover narration used throughout to give out information, so it could be argued it would take
on the Expository mode also.
It would be a vulnerable and touchy subject due to us filming school children. We discussed
that it would be under-cover, a covert investigation in order to get the most ‘natural’ filming.
However, we’d have two interviews with two students from lower school and sixth form as a
way to get personal opinion. The reason we chose those ages was to allow a comparison of
how education serves students of different ages.
Camera Shots, Composition and Movement:
Leading up to title: Shots of busy school, fast paced shots in opening titles, teachers, students,
exams, clocks etc.
During documentary: under cover classroom shots, in common room, handheld.
Close-up shots of the two students being interviewed.
Props, Setting and Lighting:
No props needed as such, not set up.
Skateboarding: No Comply
An idea was put forward for a skateboarding documentary, on the subculture,
history, idols and public opinion.
Documentary, Genre, Modes:
Inspired mainly by Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop style documentary.
Voiceover throughout to guide the audience with information.
Camera Shots, Composition and Movement:
Fixed shot when interviewing participants.
Props, Setting and Lighting:
Natural lighting from being filmed outside, such as the skateboarding shots,
randomly interviewing the public. Artificial lighting when professionally interviewing
Setting: Skateboard shop, multiple local skate parks.
Documentary, Genre, Modes:
Expository Mode, having a voiceover to create an argument and provide the viewer with
Use of well-constructed shots, following that of the Poetic Mode.
Camera Shots, Composition and Movement:
Leading up to title: shot of social networks, time-lapse, people on their devices, typing etc. in
sync with the voiceover giving information on social networking.
Standstill close-up shots when interviewing.
Have two main interviews, then a lot of smaller interviews, to cut throughout the main people.
When interviewing the main two participants, I will position them to the left of the camera to
allow the rule of thirds to occur. The effect of this will be a more interesting shot as many claim
the rule of thirds create more tension, energy and interest from the composition. I’ve often seen
the rule of thirds used in an interview set up in Educating Yorkshire, Catfish, One Born Every
Minute, Ice Road Truckers and Storage Wars.
Props, Setting and Lighting:
School locations: Teens are the main culprit for using social networking excessively.
Initial Ideas Conclusion
Although I believe the ideas suggested are about interesting topics, and would be insightful
documentaries with educating the audience of (mostly) teenage cultures and the education system.
Education Documentary Idea
I feel that if I had chosen to create a documentary on the education system I would have run into the
following problems: (at first thought) I would be concerned with a target audience, I feel if this was
distributed from an institution, it wouldn’t receive the views needed for it to be successful as the
documentary topic may not have an appeal. However, further researching into this I found that
Education documentaries can be quite popular, such as the successes of Educating Essex and
Yorkshire. Educating Yorkshire has a broad target audience, with teenagers enjoying the show but
also adults (specifically teachers, as it reflects on their profession, giving them a sense of recognition).
The ethical reasons included with the education documentary would create a halt in the production,
by wanting to use shots showing many children in school (a transition shot to show a busy school),
and even interviewing children, the amount of permission slips for parents to fill in would make the
production process incredibly hard. Along with this, in the original plan of the film, the filming would
be covert, which is an ethical problem in itself.
With the skateboarding documentary, a subject I’m very unfamiliar with, I feel I wouldn’t be the
position to educate others on something I’m uneducated on. The target audience for this would most
likely be the select few, such as teenagers within that subculture being the only ones to watch.
Social Networking Idea
Before even considering a documentary topic, I knew I wanted to do something based around current
issues, and I believe the idea of producing a film based on the internet covers this. As social
networking is very common, it is a subject that I would feel confident educating others on, and as a
I believe a similar product of my documentary could be ‘Catfish: The TV Show’. This
circulates around the dangers of Facebook, just as I intend my documentary to be about
social networks. Although this show is Nichols’ reflexive type of documentary, Catfish and
my idea are of a similar concept due to the content idea; we both base our documentaries
off of social networking and the internet. Catfish: The TV Show is an American reality-
based docudrama programme which airs on MTV about the truths and lies of online
dating. Here is the trailer for the documentary film Catfish:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuE98oeL-e0 . It is argued that the show’s popularity
is because of the young people aged 12-16 who watch the show, yet this contradicts the
time in which it’s aired. Surely if it is aimed at an audience as young as that then it would
be aired an an earlier time? As there’s a possibility my target audience will be of a similar
age to Catfish, if my documentary was produced and aired, in order to get maximum
views, I’d air it at 9PM. Because MTV is labeled a ‘teenage’ channel, this backs up the
demographic for Catfish.
Due to the setting, fly-on-the-wall documentary Educating Yorkshire could potentially
influence and inspire my film, it follows the everyday lives of the staff and students of
Thornhill Community Academy, a secondary school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
Educating Yorkshire is broadcast on Channel 4, it is said to have reached over 4 million
views and was the most talked about on Twitter each evening it has been aired. With the
documentary trending on Twitter, and the statistics that the younger generation are
continuing to be the main population of that site, the possible target audience for
Educating Yorkshire is teenagers.
Catfish: the TV Show
Channel: MTV (Britain)
Popular: Reaches almost 3 million views per episode (USA audience).
Time/Date/Est: 10 PM. First season aired late 2012.
Motivation: Catfish the TV Show emerged after the response the filmmaker, Nev Schulman, received
from his film based on his own online love story, Catfish. Nev often claims he got many requests
asking people for his help on finding whether their online lover is being truthful of their identity or not.
The point of the docudrama is expressed in the introduction of each episode, he and fellow presenter,
Max Joseph, aim ‘to find out the truth from online romances’ (0:36, season two episode twelve) by
investigating stories that are ‘too good to be true’. They want to know if the person they’ve had a
relationship with is real or if they are a ‘catfish’, someone who pretends to be someone they're not
using social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue false online romances, hence the
What I like about Catfish is the opening structure. In what-it-seems to be a way to engage the
audience they show a short clip from the most climatic part of the show; when they’re about to meet
their online lover (first 28 seconds).
The show, in a way, has a slogan/catchphrase just before the opening logo, ‘Catfish the movie was
my story, Catfish the TV show is yours’. I find this effective because as it’s the concluding sentence it
describes what the show is about, and using the word ‘yours’ directly speaks to the audience.
An effective technique used in the introduction was the shots were relevant to the narration. For
example, at 1:19 Nev explains he and his best friend are ‘back on the road’ to investigate potential
catfishers, shown onscreen is a short montage of them in an airport (handheld shots).
Catfish: The TV Show S2E12
# TIME ANGLE MOV SUBJECT SOUND/AUDIO TRANS
1 :27 EYE
Zoom Shot shows
Dramatic Music CUT
2 :42 EYE
his car door.
‘Along the way, we
3 :41 LOW Participant
‘Along the way, we
4 3:16 EYE
movement from one
‘she lives within
5 10:28 HIGH
‘I’m to my breaking
point, I have to
6 26:44 EYE
music. Silence from
Throughout the show the viewers can see all the
camera equipment used to film the show,
specifically when Max films Nev. This creates an
effect that everything is very behind-the scenes
like. The viewer not only gets to view the show,
but also how it’s constructed. This links closely
to the reflexive mode, where there is the theory
that the audience are just as interested about
how the film is constructed as they are to the
actual documentary content.
Although effective in its aim, I wouldn’t want to
use this in my documentary as I’d like mine to
look much more professional and structured,
whereas Catfish has a more amateur approach to
the construct of filming their documentary.
In this shot the cameraman uses the Rule of
Thirds, it is said, and proven, to create a
much more pleasing composition for the
viewers by creating a point of interest.
Which I think this is very important when
filming, specifically interviews as it give the
audience something to concentrate their
focus on. I’ll most likely use this, not only
because it creates a better shot, but also
because it’s a simple guideline for me to
follow when filming participants.
Another particular interesting aspect of this shot is the use of credits to introduce the presenters (and
the opening titles), by using chat bubble, as a way to engage the audience, which is relevant to the
subject and theme of the documentary. I would like to emulate this in my own documentary as it’s a
creative way to improve the shot as a whole.
The woman in the black and white
image is the ‘Catfish’, in the photo
below is the ‘victim’ of the Catfish. A
contrast of character has been created
from the choice of colour and selection
of photos. The black and white,
unwelcoming photo gives negative
connotations for the audience, giving
the impression she’s the ‘bad guy’ in
the show. Whereas the woman in the
second photo is colourful and an overall
nicer photo of the woman, making her
to be perceived as the ‘innocent’ being.
In one of these shot there was a track of an email saying ‘too good to be true’. At the same
time the voiceover says the same line. I find this particularly interesting because it
emphasises the topic being discussed; presenting the dangers of the topic. Throughout the
whole show they use shots of social networking and conversations held on those sites, this
presents the whole theme of the show. I could, and most likely will, use this technique in
my documentary as I believe it’s effective as a way to show what makes these sites ‘social’
through the communication aspects being filmed.
Channel: Channel 4
Popular: 4 Million per episode.
Time/Date/Est: 9 PM. Made in 2012, aired in 2013.
Motivation: After the success of Educating Essex, Educating Yorkshire was
commissioned. Jonny Mitchell, the headmaster of Thornhill Community Academy in West
Yorkshire, accepted to be a part of the new series based in his school in January 2012. As
the school had a bad reputation, with Ofsted describing the school as ‘below average’ in
2007, Mitchell was the one who improved the school. With all what the school had
achieved in the years following 2007, Mitchell said he ‘was proud of what we’d achieved
and felt we had a story to tell... Dewsbury has suffered quite a lot in the last ten or 15
years with some adverse press. I thought this was an opportunity for us to show the
positive side of the town as well’’ as one of his reasons to agree to the series.
Each episode has a different aim, such as in Episode three it’s centred around two boys,
at different stages in school, who have behavioural problems. In which this episode
reveals how schools deal with such students. (analysis in following slides).
Almost all cameras were from a high angle to further enforce the fly-on-the-wall mode of
Educating Yorkshire S1E3
# TIME ANGLE MOV SUBJECT AUDIO TRANS
1 :50 EYE
FIXED Headteacher - main
‘I came to this school
knowing exactly what I
wanted to achieve...’
2 2:20 HIGH FIXED Boy (Tom) shown
being a nuisance
VO:‘Tom has spent four
years pushing everyone
to the limit...’
3 8:07 HIGH FIXED Boy storming off
idea of a threat...’
4 8:12 HIGH FIXED Continuing shot of
boy disrupting the
end of corridor).
5 19:50 HIGH FIXED Boy sat at desk
not engaged in
VO: (teacher) ‘If he
doesn’t book his ideas
6 23:26 HIGH FIXED Support staff
There is always a
place safe in school
for you to come.’
Throughout the each episode the interview setup for all participants remain the same, a
shot following the Rule of Thirds. Seeing this in all documentaries I’ve analysed, it is a
clear indication that the Rule of Thirds is vital in filmmaking.
Present in these shots also are their introductory credits, when compared to Catfish’s, are
very basic and simple, which fits this style of documentary through the look of
At first thought an obvious target audience would be teenagers as I aim for most of the content to be mainly of
teenagers, and for teenagers because it is a social norm for teens to be online. So, logically, teenagers may prefer to
watch people of a similar age. However, I believe due to the content of my documentary, the target audience may be
even broader than that. Some teenagers may find the documentary genre boring, so I may have to find ways to engage
a younger audience if the idea of watching people of a similar age isn’t effective. Adults, specifically parents, may be
more interested in this documentary, firstly because adults will also be interviewed, but perhaps more significantly, this
demographic may be seeking information about social networks in order to get an understanding of why teenagers
base their lives around social websites, where the generation gap has supposedly emerged. According to
Fundamentals of Technology Project Management (Second Edition), it claims ‘different generations use social media in
a slightly different way… If you are from a pre-text/pre-Internet generation, imagine how differently you would perceive
the world if what you think of as new technologies were the way things had always worked. Likewise, if you are from a
younger generation, imagine how different your life would be without computers, mobile phones, iPods, texting,
Facebook, and YouTube’. (http://www.mcpressonline.com/commentary/the-social-media-generation-gap-part-one.html
This graph (taken from http://visual.ly/100-social-networking-statistics-facts-2012) shows the gender ratio of social
network users, I believe this may effect the gender demographic of my target audience as more females may watch (if
it was distributed) because, according to statistics, they have more of an interest in social media.
Julian McDougall, a educationalist and media theorist, claims that an ‘audience is a hypothetical group of people’.
When identifying a target audience, we’re essentially putting people into a category and judging what they would watch
based on their demographic. In reality, surely people watch what they want based on their interests, rather than their
gender, age or class. Despite this, having a group of people to aim my documentary towards will make the construction
process much easier because I can shape my documentary to fit a specific group of people.
To help me research my target audience, a survey was carried out .These people were aged fourteen to adults, yet I
In 2013, I created a questionnaire for research in making a film documentary. I
gave it to 15 people, ranging from teenagers to adults. My aim from this was to
gain a wider opinion and help me come to certain decisions when planning the
This questionnaire serves two
purposes for me; to research
what target audience would be
most interested in my
documentary so I can steer it
towards them, but to also gain
insight into culture I’m basing my
(technology). From this
questionnaire I know what age
each individual person filling in
my questionnaire is, which
should allow me to see if ages
such as 16-18 preferred to
documentaries over informative
documentaries, for example.
This question was asked to
establish what the questionnaire
focus is about. If they answered
‘no’, the whole questionnaire
would be irrelevant to them.
Luckily everyone selected that
they do partake in watching
documentaries, which backs up
the obvious reason that if I
created documentary, there will
be a variety of people interested
enough to it.
This was a general question to
see how often the average
documentaries. The majority
watched at least one
documentary a month. This is
quite worrying as I’m targeting
at an audience who, in
correlation to my results, rarely
However, I believe that due to
the topic at hand relating
directly to teenagers, they will
become interested in watching
Preference of Genre
By asking the participant’s favoured genre, I hoped this question would be useful in a way that
it proves people are in fact attracted to certain forms of documentary, just as people are
attracted to Nichols documentary modes. This will impact the making of my documentary as I
will make it a certain style in order to get people interested. However, when focusing on a
target audience from the participants, as shown in the chart, the preference overall is mostly
equal, which isn’t useful for me as there isn’t a explicit ‘popular’ genre that I could stick to, but
this shouldn’t impact too much as I’ve already planned the genre. Luckily the most favoured is
Educational documentaries, which is what I intend my documentary to mainly consist of.
Informed or Entertained?
When creating this question I had the hope
that my participants (and potential target
audience) would create a majority vote of
whether they prefer to be informed or
entertained, where I planned to follow their
preference and then incorporate it into my
documentary. But as the chart shows, there
is an even split amongst the two. This made
me realise that, maybe, there shouldn’t be a
clear division of a documentary that
‘entertains’ or ‘informs’. By learning this, it
can allow me to make my own choice when
it comes to filming and editing process. I’ve
came to the conclusion I will try to
incorporate both of these aspects to create
a mixture in hope it would engage those
that selected ‘both’, and even the people
that selected a specific preference,
because it’ll contain both aspects that they
In recent years TV channels such as BBC, ITV and Channel 4 now allow viewers to catch up on
TV shows they’ve missed (iPlayer, 4od). Taking this into account, I was interested to see if that,
because teenagers are in an age of the Internet, they interested in watching things online. This
has mostly been proved through the results of this question, with the majority claiming they
would want to catch up on a documentary they’ve missed. This could possibly link to the Web
2.0 theory (‘Web 2.0 is the term given to describe a second generation of the World Wide Web
that is focused on the ability for people to collaborate and share information online’ - Source:
http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/W/Web_2_point_0.html), that if I were to distribute my
documentary, I could possibly share it online over TV. 38
Social Networking Users
I created this question to gain research on a
potential target audience, to see if they use
social media, and from the results, all but
one used at least one social network. As a
follow up to this question I asked the
participants to state how long they spend on
these sites on a normal day. The most
average number of hours from the results
were 3 hours a day with a pattern that the
younger the person, the longer the time
spent on social media. With the logic that
many people use social networks, I have the
hope that they’d be interested in watching a
documentary on something they use on a
Favourite Social Network Site
I gave my questionnaire mostly to teenagers because they are, stereotypically, the main social media users. In
hope to shape my documentary I researched into social networking sites and the users (those who filled in the
questionnaire). From my pie chart I can see that Facebook is the most popular network amongst my participants,
and researching further online, Facebook is the most popular worldwide. This may help shape my documentary
through using Facebook as the primary social networking site with other social media, e.g. twitter, being
secondary. If I were to do this questionnaire again, I would hand out it to wider age groups for me to get more
varied results for my target audience. With social networks recently introducing advertisements on their sites, this
question also allows me to know the most popular websites which could help me with promoting and advertising
my documentary if it was distributed. 40
Watching a Documentary on
Luckily the majority of participants
would be interested in watching a
documentary on social networking, so
this may be the target audience I’ve
been searching for. As previously
mentioned, I was worried teenagers
wouldn’t be interested in watching a
documentary on this topic, but this
questionnaire has proven differently.
I took a particular notice to the ‘maybe’
option which the participants wrote
themselves, which stemmed thoughts
as to why it would or would not appeal
to them. I thought it could be specific
elements of the documentary, such as
the topics raised or the style. If this
questionnaire were to be done again, I
would ask for an explanation to avoid
95% of those aged 12-17 use the internet, of this percentage, 8 in 10 use some kind of social
media. (http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/April/Pew-Internet-Teens.aspx). As a result of
this research, I believe that filming in a school links to the vision of my documentary as it allows
me to interview students, and also makes the filming process easier for me as I’m a student at
the school. When interviewing students, I was thinking of doing something that reflects the
theme of the documentary; the act of being social online and in reality. I came to the conclusion
that filming student interviews in the Sixth Form area of school (a social place) as it plays on the
idea of socialising in real life and socialising online, to create a contrasting effect of how social
media influences how we communicate today. As teenagers are the main users for the most
popular social networks (arguably the people who make these sites popular), being in a school
allows me to create the effect that teenagers are dependent on social media, which is my main
argument for my documentary. Throughout the day, schools are largely populated with
students, a particular aspect I’m worried about when filming in a school is the background
noise caused by the students. However, having this background noise may be effective as it
gives an authentic impression of the atmosphere a school possesses, however, this
background noise may make my documentary seem unprofessional. I’m aiming to resolve this
problem through filming in lesson time and after-school in the hope that noise will not interrupt
the interviews. In order to gain an authentic feel, I could even use sound clips of the school at
busy times and edit the interviews with the sounds underlying throughout.
• Here is a floor plan:
I’m currently experimenting with the background when interviewing my main participants. I feel a main part of filming a
well-constructed shot for a viewer to watch is having an interesting background, this is often used in Educating
This photo here is what I took when testing out the layout
of my shot. As you can see I’m fully trying to emulate that
of Educating Yorkshire’s interview setup. Unfortunately it
hasn’t turned out how I fully expected it to look because
of the shot distancing, where the out of focus effect
won’t occur as well as it did in Educating Yorkshire. As I
wasn’t fully satisfied with the focus in the shot, I’ll be
experimenting using a different lens and create a close
up shot over a wider angle. If it were made available, I
would use studio lighting to expose the facial expression
and emotions of my subject and isolate them from the
background, but I’ll be using natural light sources.
As seen in this picture, the background is related to the
theme of the show; which is what I intend to do in my
documentary. I find this effective because it reflects the
nature of the documentary. My current aim is to use the
homepage of social networks which feature the ‘log in’ or
‘sign up’ option that will be partly visible from the rule of
thirds I’ll be following. It won’t be too distracting because
it will be slightly be out of focus, so the viewer is forced to
watch the interviewee. However, having this element
causes the following problems; I’d need to find an empty
classroom with an electronic whiteboard and I will have
difficulties accessing social media in the school. To
resolve these issues, I will pre-organize with the
interviewee of a time where an empty room with the
appropriate equipment needed is available, and I will use
a screenshot of the social networks.
Looking at font styles from DaFont.com, I created these fonts above to create a brand reach that I think will
particularly fit well with the theme of the documentary as a way to advertise my product. I hope this this will be a
motif for the audience across all three tasks, so when they see the font, they will recognise it. When distributing
my questionnaire, I used this as a logo to start spreading awareness of my documentary. I’ve decided to use the
fifth logo overall, as it’s the same font as Facebook, it looks more professional compared to the others, so it’ll
appeal to the older adult audience, and it’s simple. I asked a peer (Aged 17) why this would appeal to them,
they replied that they knew what the hashtag was as it had relevance to social media she uses. Using blue font
and the hashtag symbol further represents social networks: Twitter is closely associated with the hashtag and
should be recognised by the older generation as it is used through media convergence with TV and magazines.
CensorshipResearching into documentaries labelled ‘shocking’, I found a documentary about Chinese state
orphanages, named ‘The Dying Rooms’. The film was produced over the course of two years, and
aired in 1995, where the filmmakers, Kate Blewett, Brian Woods and Peter Woolrich, would covertly
enter these orphanages and pretend to be staff in order to film. The three became distressed
throughout the making of the documentary due to how poorly treated and neglected the children
were, but nonetheless completed the film. The aim for making the film was the one child policy
introduced into China in a way to control the increasing population, and showed the effects it had on
society; where these orphanages emerged. The documentary gives insight the society’s attitudes,
such as raising the topics of favouring the male children born, and female babies left in orphanages
where they would be killed through neglect.
A documentary based on the Franklin child prostitution ring allegations was a fully completed
documentary film, named ‘Conspiracy of Silence’, yet was never aired on the basis that it was too
controversial, and questioned the morality of those in authority. It is clear that it wasn’t aired due to the
channel’s fear of being sued.
A documentary that I find to be a ‘stand out’ film is the ’Zeitgeist’ trilogy due to the controversial and
conspiracy theory-based topics raised in each documentary, with the first movie raising issues such as
Religion (specifically Christianity and the origin of the story of Jesus), the 9/11 attacks, and the central
bank systems. Originally an art project, directed, produced and written by Peter Joseph, the films have
all received huge criticism with the accuracy of the information Joseph give out, with it even being
labelled ‘propaganda’. However, it has also gotten positive awards from film festivals. What also makes
this documentary ‘stand out’ is the way it’s distributed, it has never been aired on TV, but is released
online, with all movies on YouTube, Netflix and even a download torrent from the official website.
I’d like to say my documentary is a rather safe topic, so worrying about censorship issues wouldn’t
really be necessary.
When creating my storyboard, I primarily focused on drawing the six main shots and
elements of my documentary. I hope that once I have mastered these shots, the rest of the
documentary will be of a similar style. For example, the fourth shot will be a rule of thirds
for every interview I conduct.
The first shot is an actor on their laptop, this is for more a cinematic effect over real events
for the documentary, as a way to establish the theme of the documentary. This will then
cut to a continuing shot (shown in the second shot) which shows the actor typing
Facebook into the search bar; the central social network my documentary will be focused
on (as it is the most used), further informing the viewer what the film is based on.
The third shot will be used throughout my documentary as extra shots, such as when the
narration and interviewees are speaking, as way to keep the eyes of the viewer interested
in what they’re listening to. Similar to that of the Poetic Mode (as mentioned in previous
In the editing process I’m hoping to make a more creative way of transitioning from
question to question when interviewing the participants. The fifth shot shows I will be
typing the questions in different social networking sites, where I will introduce the answers.
A recurring theme in my moodboard are various shots of different types of
technology, social networks, and people in an interview setup. These will be the
three main aspects that my documentary will contain in order to form the
structure I’m aiming for. As social networks are available on multiple platforms,
shots of phones, laptops and other forms of technology will be used for
cinematic effect when the voiceover is giving information. Throughout my
documentary, I aim to use exterior shots of social networks, often used in
Catfish, to emphasise the themes of the documentary, to back up the narration
and show the variations of social networks. Although I want my documentary to
be informative for the audience, I’d also like to use opinion, and I aim to do this
through my film consisting mainly of interviews. Present in most documentaries,
such as Educating Yorkshire, the rule of thirds is used. So while interviewing
people, I feel following the rule of thirds would be most effective as it would
engage the viewer through the shot looking much cleaner. Trying to emulate
Catfish’s technique of using chat bubbles for the credit banner, I hope to be just
as creative when making the introductory credits of interviewees.
SoundIn my initial brainstorm when considering sound in my documentary, and after documentary mode research, I
knew I’d be following the conventions of the expository mode by using a voiceover to create the narrative as it
interested me the most when contemplating ways of conveying information.
Developing this idea further I’d have to think of the characteristics my narration will follow, considering aspects
such as how the narrator will speak: Formally? Informally? I believe this issue will be something to consider at
a later date in the editing process,
Essentially, I want my voiceover to match the style of the documentary. Researching into creating a voiceover,
an interesting theory was found concerning the gender of the voiceover; “On average both males and females
trust male voices more” said by Clifford Nass, a professor of communications at Stanford University, with an
experiment showing that subjects ‘perceived the deep voice to be smarter, more authoritative and more
http://feministing.com/2012/01/31/quick-hit-why-are-all-those-movie-trailers-voiced-by-men/). An original
thought was that I, as the filmmaker, would be the narrator. But as a female, as stated in the study above, my
voice might not be as effective, meaning my target audience potentially won’t be engaged due to the nature of
my voice. As the male voice is described as more authoritative, this especially follows the expository
convention as they normally put an argument forward through the Voice of God narration. Moving forward from
this idea is finding a suitable male voice willing to be my narrator. Luckily, from my drama lessons there is a
peer who I, from seeing his acting skills, believe his voice has the characteristics of a good narrator. Due to his
acting abilities, I believe I’ll have no problem with familiarising him with my documentary, especially concerning
Brief overview of social networking (if the target audience is for adults, with a generation
gap it will need to be explained), using facts and statistics.
As the school I attend has banned the use on mobile phones, it would probably be
worthwhile to ask questions to secondary school students in search of their opinions.
Interviewing a teacher on this same topic could be useful to show the (possible) contrast in
opinions (this could also emphasise the generation gap between adults and teenagers –
how their opinions differ).
Approach sensitive topics on the dark side of social networking, cyber bullying for
example. Interviewing victims but also, if possible, the guilty party who’ve taken part in
cyber bullying. Mentioning recent issues, the teenager who committed suicide because of
abuse on Ask.fm? Are websites like Formspring and ask.fm provoking bullying? (How has
social media changed cyber bullying? The lack of empathy, hiding behind their keyboards)
Has social networking affected the way we communicate in real life?
Issues such a privacy, do teens know what they’re getting into? (Once something has
been put on the internet, it’s there forever – the consequences?).
Social networks. Websites dedicated to social interaction and personal relationships that are
constantly advancing alongside the internet. It is the number one activity online with over 1.2
billion people on Facebook alone. In this documentary we film at a local Sixth Form to
investigate the oddity that is social media.
So we all agree that social media is an easier way to interact with friends and family, fair
enough. But how long do they spend on social networks?
There are, of course, downsides to social networking. One being, what I’m sure we’ve all heard
of, cyber-bullying. Research indicates nearly 45% of children have been bullied online.
As technology is constantly advancing, social media has been a revolution to society and is
often argued to be changing the way we communicate. So what effects does social networking
have on people’s real relationships? And does it affect the way we communicate?’
From my questionnaires I know my target audience like opinion, along with facts and
statistics, so making my documentary interview-based seems logical. As a way to present
a variety of opinions, I’m aiming to interview people of different ages, and as my
documentary is based in a school, I’m aiming to interview a teacher and a student for my
main participants. Because my documentary focuses on a part of teenage culture, the
‘little’ interviews will be of students, in order for the audience to gain an understanding of
their perspective. The reason for interviewing both teacher and student allows me to
create a fair argument, with both parties expressing their opinion. From this, the results
could go either way, with the two participants having contrasting or similar answers, which
may influence my final edit because I’m hoping the two participants have differing opinions
because of their age difference. If this doesn’t occur, and the participants have a similar
say in the subject, it won’t support the argument put forward in my documentary. To
resolve this, beforehand, I’ll ask potential interviewees for their opinions about social
networking and select to interview them based on their answers. Putting this plan into
action is what I need to organise, such as finding such participants and finding a time to
interview them that’s suitable for them. Along with this, I created a permission slip for all
As well as real-life participants, a voice actor will also be used for the narration, as
discussed in the previous slide. The actual recordings of the voice actor will be very late in
the production, once the scripting has been done.
Here is the consent form for participants to sign to allow me to use the footage I will take of
them, and to follow the school protocol, every student under the age of eighteen will have to get
parental permission. Permission forms ensure that I have attained explicit consent, made it clear
to participants that they can withdraw their contribution at any time and also provide the option
of allowing participants to view the final product in order to ensure they are happy with how they
are represented in the documentary. I’ll attain permission from participants before filming in
order to save time and resources.
(Location and music permission slips will be added at a later date).
As professional film crews take health and safety issues very seriously, even though this is
a student documentary, carrying out these type of jobs allow me to approach filming in a
professional way. As the filmmaker, I have duty of care to put precautions in place which
are recognised by law. Using this risk assessment, I’m creating a way to stay safe by
analysing each shooting set up and location, considering any health and safety hazards
that could occur.