Documentary mode theory (bill nichols)

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Documentary mode theory (bill nichols)

  1. 1. Documentary Mode Theory (Bill Nichols) Expository Mode Observational Mode Participatory Mode Performative Mode Reflexive Mode Poetic Mode L/O: to know the different types of documentaries
  2. 2. Remember • Some documentaries have elements of more than 1 mode (subgenre/hybrid)
  3. 3. • http://www.slideshare.net/crosswaysfederatio n/modes-of-documentary1 • http://www.slideshare.net/amythechooch/mo des-of-documentary-conventions
  4. 4. Expository Mode (Voice of God) • Often using a narrator to address audience directly to present exposition or explanation, interpreting what they are seeing on screen • Assumes logical argument which ‘right’ or ‘proper’ answers are revealed by direct address • Preferred meaning (meaning that a media producer wants the audience to receive (and this meaning is likely received by audience) • Whether there is visual narrator or not we trust the narration as a definitive narration or anchor of the visual material (and accept it has authoritative on subject matter) • TV news is similar • One of oldest conventions of documentary – still used today, even in Big Brother as the narrator interprets to audience what we are watching • The narrator often represents target audience for the programme, will address as group a set of implied values of text (preferred meaning) (ex. Who narrates blue planet? How relate to TA?) • Examples: Nature Documentaries Blue Planet, Frozen Planet, March of Penguins
  5. 5. Observational Mode (window of the world) (fly on the wall) • Objective reality with filmmaker as neutral observer • Similar to ‘fly on the wall’ documentary • Filmmaker remains hidden behind camera, ignored by surrounding environment (they will not affect changes or influence actions/events) • Because nothing is stages by camera, camera rushes to keep up with action (resulting in rough/shaky footage) • Consider that after 60’s technology advanced and cameras became lighter (therefore able to move around and document reality more easily, the filmmakers could film the social actors more freely ) • Examples: Lifers…………….skint…………..other TV reality shows (big brother, TOWIE)
  6. 6. Participatory Mode (present filmaker) • Unlike observational mode as filmmaker is present • Direct engagement between filmmaker and subject • Filmmaker part of filming (on camera) • Filmmaker’s impact on the events is recorded, acknowledged and is often celebrated • Example: (any michael moore documentary….food unwrapped and human swarm)
  7. 7. Reflexive Mode (awareness of process) • Acknowledges construction of documentary • This conveys it’s not necessarily ‘truth’ but a reconstruction of it (‘a’ truth, not ‘the’ truth) • Construction of documentary is exposed – audience are made aware of editing, sound, recording etc. • Example: • Man with a movie camera, catfish
  8. 8. Performative Mode (filmmaker as participant) • Emphasizes subjective nature of the maker • Filmmaker is participant (perhaps participating in something he/she might be wanting to prove) (subjective nature) • Emphasizes emotional and social impact on the audience • Examples: • Supersize Me (arguably films by Michael Moore)
  9. 9. Poetic Mode (subjective, artistic expression) • Not typical of narrative structure • Subjective, not objective…. moves away from the ‘objective’ reality • Not rhetoric • More about artistic expression (not necessarily preferred meaning but oppositional/negotiated meaning is ok) – therefore things may be left unresolved • Grasp ‘inner truth’ grasped by poetical manipulation (express inner meaning of a subject) • This is particularly noticeable in the editing of poetic documentaries, where continuity is of virtually no consequence at all. Rather, poetic editing explores “associations and patterns that involve chronological rhythms and spatial juxtapositions. • Particular mood/tone is created (enhanced by music) • Montage style editing – unrelated shots edited together (perhaps linked by music/mood though) • -perceived as Avant-garde (innovative, experimental, pushes boundaries) • Example:

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