At the very beginning of our A2 coursework task, we were given a specific brief.
The brief was for us to choose a topic of our own choice and then as a group,
create a an introduction to a documentary which lasted five minutes long.
Alongside this, we had two ancillary tasks set for us in order to advertise our
documentary, this included a radio trail and a TV listings article. The radio trails aim
was to entice and lure the listeners to watch the documentary and the TV article
which was in a magazine of our choice, was to inform the readers about the
documentary in order to persuade them into watching it. During this entire project
we had to make sure we did enough accurate research and planning into the
documentary genre so that our documentary would come across as professional
Our research and planning involved us watching ‘Supersize Me’, looking at
magazine TV articles and listening to radio trails, so we could get a rough idea of
what to include, how to present it and how to achieve the outcome we were
aiming for whilst using typical conventions for the documentary genre. We knew
we had to portray the topic of our documentary in a factual and informative way
including: inform viewers, using facts and statistics, conveying opinions and
creating a public interest. Knowing this, we researched into conventions of the
genre such as archival footage, reconstructions, interviews, voxpops, voiceover,
actuality and piece to camera. All of the previous listing was included into our
documentary so that we were following the correct conventions in order to gain
the right effect and overall purpose.
We included a reconstruction within the documentary as we thought it would
benefit it due to it being appropriate to our topic. By doing this reconstruction of a
girl being tormented and constantly bullied enough to want to kill herself, we felt
that it included the participatory mode adding more emotional emphasis to it and
We used a voice-over whom was also our presenter who took part in the piece to
camera element. We found that this was more of a professional yet personal
approach to the documentary and the voice-over directly informs the viewers
about the facts, statistics and information on the topic. We pre-recorded the
voice-over so therefore we were able to pre plan where each voice recording clip
would go, by doing it this way it was visually easier to see and set out by seeing the
audio and visual together.
We included both interviews and voxpops
so therefore it gave public and
professional opinions making it more fair and unbiased. This also allowed the public
to speak their view s and opinions make it more realistic and trustworthy. We had
pre-planned the interview and voxpops questions so therefore we knew what to
ask people so we weren’t time wasting.
We thought that actuality was an important element to include within the
documentary so that we were portraying truth and realism. This was important so
that the audience were more trusting in our documentary which further adds
effect as they would be more sympathetic towards the topic and previous stories.
THE USE OF CAMERA
In order to gain a better understanding of what type of camera shots and angles
were necessary within a typical documentary, we analysed how they were used by
watching ‘Supersize Me’.
Close up shots are typically known to emphasise a certain object or a persons facial
expression or emotion so that it gives the right effect and gains the right response. We
used these for shots for clips such as abusive messages /conversations on a phone
which linked to our topic of cyber-bullying through social networking. Furthermore, it
was more of a symbolic element and shot to show the raw emotion and realism of
what happens in the real world.
Long shots are typically used to view the whole body in the shot and also for the
viewer to see the body language of the person. In our documentary, we used the
long shot right at the beginning when the our presenter was walking towards the
camera whilst introducing the documentary and informing the viewers what it’s
Typical documentary interviews in order to look professional, need to have the correct
layout and structure. This would involve making sure the interviewee is set in an
appropriate setting and within the rule of thirds on the camera. In addition, the
interviewee’s eye contact shouldn’t be directing looking at the camera, they should
be focused in the direction of the opposite side of the camera to where they are
Furthermore, typical documentaries usually have the interviewee’s name appear and
what their occupation is across the bottom of the screen by using graphical labels or
tags, therefore making the audience aware of who is speaking. We used this
convention throughout our professional interviews in our documentary, also making
sure they’re easily read by choosing a simple font.
Background music, diegetic sound, non-diegetic sound and dialogue are key
elements within the sound of a documentary.
We used garage band to create the music for throughout our documentary as
background music as well as the music for our radio trail. Therefore, it was not
copyright and was our own original music which is a typical convention for
We wanted to make sure the music was relevant to our documentary so
therefore when the reconstruction is playing on screen, we had subtle, soft and
emotional music to add effect to the reconstruction itself making the spectator
feel more sympathetic which is the aim of this element.
The voice-over was a very important piece of sound due to the fact it’s the main
source of information and it was there to lead the audience through the
The key point about the music is to make sure it doesn’t overpower the voiceover because that would lead the audience to be unable to hear the
information. Therefore, we had to make sure the sound levels of the music was
subtle yet able to still hear it under the voice-over.
We originally researched into Bill Nichol’s theory so that we could decide
which type of documentary we wanted to base ours around. After
discussion we decided to choose participatory and per formative as our
This mode is where the film maker is visible to the viewer and discusses their
perspectives relating to the documentary. We did this by having our
presenter do a piece to camera so that it made it more personal and
trustworthy as they can see who is feeding them the information.
Per formative Mode:
This mode is similar to the participatory mode as it also engages the film
maker. However, we used this mode when we created and presented the
reconstruction as it personalises the documentary and it does this by guiding
the viewer through the victims experience which adds effect by emphasises
This screenshot shows that we
organised the interviewee to sit
within the right area of the rule of
thirds which is a typical
convention of an interview within
a documentary. In addition, the
interviewee in this interview
unfortunately was moving about
quite a bit but the dialogue was
This screenshot from the
documentary shows our mise-enscene choice. We decided to
locate it her for our introduction as
it’s at the entrance of a college
full of students where bullying
tends be of a high percentage.
• The lighting needed to be
appropriate when filming on
camera, as we didn’t want bad
reflections or unflattering lighting
which could make it less
• Therefore we focused our shots in
natural lighting which is similar to
documentaries we had watched
for our research.
• Furthermore, this gave it a more
serious and realist tone which
was our overall aim.
• The mise-en-scene and
locations were key throughout
the process as they had to be
appropriate and link somehow
to our topic.
• This is why we focused within The
Sixth Form College, Solihull,
classrooms, in front of college as
cyber-bullying tends to happen
to students. Therefore we
thought this was a good
location to film.
• When it came to interviews we
tried to film within offices to
make it look more professional.
This is one of the most important elements within the documentary as that
is the basis where we work around. We had to take into consideration
whether it would be linear, open or closed. However, considering it’s only
the first five minutes of the documentary we were limited a we could make
a definite narrative structure in order to reflect the entire documentary.
To gain a clearer understanding of the documentary genre and narrative
structure we had previously watched several documentaries which
included ‘Supersize Me’ and other ones that were featured on channel 4
or BBC 3 which are popular documentary channels such as Educating
Yorkshire. This meant we could see a variety of differences in narrative
structure and how they present certain things and conventions with
Rule Of Thirds
Time And Channel Of
When The Documentary
Will Be Aired
Following the conventions above was
necessary in order to achieve a
professional looking TV listings article. We
followed the Radio Times magazine
structure and layout which we looked at in
our research. The article on the right was
our inspiration and focus for our own.
Date And Time Information
Controlled/Consistent Sound Levels Throughout
Use Of Second Person: ‘you’ addressing the audience
• Audio Extracts Taken From Segments Within The
We made sure as a group that we used and covered all of the above codes
and conventions within the radio trail so that it was successful. We chose an
appropriate male voice to be the presenter/voiceover for the radio trail and
re-played it after recording to make sure it was clear enough to understand.
When it came to music, we used the music we played within the background
of the documentary (which we currently made in garage band). This meant
that it would be recognisable and familiar, we also made sure the sound levels
were appropriate and nothing over lapped or over powered a different