In what ways does your mediaproduct use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products? Megan Stafford
Our DocumentaryBefore we began planning our documentary and deciding on which theme we were going to choose weresearched typical conventions of documentaries. Firstly, we watched ‘Supersize Me,’ for a rough background tosee how and why documentaries use certain codes and conventions. We came up with a list:• Actuality: Real places, people and events, none of which is scripted. This was not used in, ‘Supersize Me,’• Exposition: Uses rhetoric to persuade the viewer, often accompanied by a voiceover which acts as omnipresent, and which Nicholls calls ‘the voice of God effect,’ Morgan Spurlock used this effectively to carry the viewer along with him so that his point was getting across effectively.• Voiceover: A commentary during the film which speaks directly to the audience to explain, give opinions or point out what is happening. Morgan Spurlock in ‘Supersize Me,’ used this to inform the audience of facts and figures, and to tell us what the purpose of his documentary was. Voiceovers are used in the majority of tv documentaries.• Interviews: These are used in the majority of documentaries, they involve somebody being asked questions often by the presenter and having their answers questioned and explained in depth. There are often opportunities for the film makers to have an opposing opinion to give the viewers a full and comprehensive view on the subject. However, in ‘Supersize Me,’ Morgan Spurlock was refused by McDonald’s several times meaning that the audience didn’t get the full story on McDonald’s behalf.• Interviews with experts: To authenticate the evidence of the documentary, can sometimes disagree with the film maker but the film maker will often disprove them afterwards. In ‘Supersize Me,’ he sought the advice of a health expert to inform him of how McDonald’s food would affect his body.• Archival footage: Footage pulled from archives, to add detail to the documentary without the need for extra filming. Morgan Spurlock used old McDonald’s adverts to show how long McDonald’s had been advertising for.• Reconstructions: An artificial remake of events that have taken place, these are often used when crimes have happened to give the viewers a visual to go with the voiceover. Spurlock didn’t use this in ‘Supersize Me,’ as there was no need to, he was experiencing the effects of fast food on his body which was documented alongside the filming of the documentary.
Our documentary used:• Actuality (in some parts): When we were getting footage for the background of our documentary e.g. the sign outside the Sixth Form, the people walking in Solihull and voxpops. We used actuality as we wanted the opinions and view points to be as realistic as possible.• Exposition: We used this throughout as we wanted to guide and give information and statistics to give the viewer a comprehensive view, and test the perceptions the public have of teenage parents.• Voiceover: We used this throughout the once again, guide the viewer and to help them form their own opinions.• Interviews: We interviewed members of the public to give differing opinions on teen mothers, however it did highlight what we wanted it to, as the only opinions we could seem to find were negative ones.• Interviews with experts: We used an interview with an expert to back up our message in the documentary.
Before we began even planning ourdocumentary we learned about Bill Nicholas’‘Introduction to Documentary,’ which suggeststhat there are 6 modes in which documentariesfall into:• Poetic• Reflexive• Participatory• Expository• Observational• Performatory
Poetic• “They are generally impressionistic, they use symbols and associations in time and space and the continuity in editing is not particularly important,”• Joris Iven’s ‘Rain,’ is prime example of this, he tracks a rainstorm in Amsterdam, there is no speech and he uses gentle, simple tones to convey his message. It’s changing moods range from sunshine in the beginning, to thunder in the middle and once again ends with sunshine. Although the message hasn’t been spoken through a voiceover, it stills manages to be emotional and poetic without saying a word.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPD2C0K38jYThe whole documentary only lasts 12 minutes and can be seen on YouTube.
Reflexive• “Sometimes show film makers wrestling with the content of their findings and are sceptical of the idea of ‘realism’ captured on film,”• Louis Theroux is a prime example of this, he speaks directly to the camera and remains slightly detached and impartial to the real events happening so it still maintains the element of realism.
Participatory• “Emulate anthropological approaches – participant observation, show the film maker as a social actor in the film, are a response to the idea that it is impossible for the presence of a camera to achieve objectivity”• This is usually used in a documentary when the presenter is trying to uncover the truth or dig for information, usually used in undercover police documentaries, for example Dispatches ‘Undercover Cop,’• http://misc.docuwat.ch/videos/?alternative=2&channel_id=0&skip=0&su bpage=video&video_id=701• A police woman goes undercover to find out how the police deal with cases like sexual assault and rape.
Observational• “Observes lived life, uses minimum intervention, views poetic documentaries as too abstract”• They tend to have no music, no interviews, no scene arrangement of any kind, and no narration. Hand-held cameras are often used to be as unobtrusive and real as possible.• ‘16 and Pregnant,’ is an example of this, the documentary follows the teens around and observes their everyday lives with no interference whatsoever.
Performative• ‘These tends to be shaped into an investigation or search that may not end in a satisfactory conclusion,’• Steve Irwin as the Crocodile Hunter is an example of a performative documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLIMgXv89VU• As he focuses more on the entertainment value of it and less on the factual side he is put into the ‘performative’ category.
Expository• “Speaks directly to the viewer, proposes a strong argument, uses rhetoric,”• This was the mode that our documentary followed, we had Ellie Marsh our presenter speaking directly to the camera, trying to persuade the viewers that things aren’t always what they seem.• Before we began filming the documentary we researched expository documentaries. Firstly, we watched ‘Cherry Has A Baby,’ but then we decided we although the structure of the documentary was exactly the way we wanted it, we wanted something that related more to our chosen topic, teenage pregnancy. So we watched an array of documentaries that focus on teenage pregnancy including: ‘Too Young? My Big Decision: Pregnancy,’ and ‘Underage and Pregnant,’ which in particular centre around British teenagers, who are our target audience.
‘Textbooks, Tweets and Toddlers,’ as an expository documentary.Why our documentary fits into the expository category:• Throughout the documentary we use a voiceover and an on-screen presenter that directly addresses the audience, and by doing this she persuades the viewer.• By speaking to a person of authority (e.g. our sexual health expert) we reinforced our argument.• By adding factual information and statistics, “In 2010 the UK saw a 1.4% increase in teen pregnancy in England and Wales alone,” we were able to back up our argument successfully.
• Before we began planning we watched a wide range of documentaries , ‘Supersize Me,’ ‘Airline,’ ’16 and Pregnant,’ and ‘The Crocodile Hunter,’ from this I managed to pick up the typical conventions of a documentary, which would help me structure my own. I learned about the effects of certain camera angles, for instance a close-up to show emotion or to focus in on something important, and an establishing shot to set the scene.• For instance, in ‘Supersize Me,’ uses close-ups to show the viewer all the greasy, unpleasant parts of his foods.
• The majority of the time establishing shots were used to set out the scene, this helps the documentary run smoothly as it gives the impression that it is continual. We also did this to give the viewers a visual as well as setting the scene for the following clips. • We have both used a sign post to establish where we are going and this is helpful for the viewer as they are kept informed.A shot taken from our documentary A shot taken from Supersize Me
• Whereas in ‘Cherry Has A Baby,’ the most common shot used is a medium shot, as she was meeting and chatting to a lot of people this shot was needed so the viewer can have a casual look at the people talking.• Both our documentary, ‘Textbooks, Tweets and Toddlers’ and ‘Cherry Has A Baby’ use a medium shot the most. A shot taken from our A shot taken from Cherry documentary Has A Baby
How we filmed it• We felt that using a tripod would be the most effective method of filming, it looks more professional, is steady and clear so the viewer can concentrate on the content and fits the expository mode we have aimed for. Using the tripod meant that we could pan, zoom and perform tracking shots effectively. A screen shot from one of our panning shots
Sound• It is known that sound is extremely important in documentaries, from no dialogue and gentle music in ‘Rain,’ by Joris Ivens to the very informative voiceover by Morgan Spurlock in ‘Supersize Me,’ both have suited their criteria and given the intended tone to their documentaries• In our documentary we have used a range of sound this includes, diegetic, non-diegetic, ambient sounds, voiceover and background music.• Just as in ‘Supersize Me,’ we used a presenter and a voiceover, this helped us to give the viewers a comprehensive and persuasive argument.
Background Music• For our music we chose something powerful for the parts without the voiceover and presenter to lighten the atmosphere, and when there was a voiceover we kept it low so that it wasn’t overpowering. Similarly, in ‘Supersize Me,’ the background music was powerful when there was no voiceover and then quietened down once he began speaking, although we made our own music ‘Supersize Me,’ used actual songs like ‘Fat Bottomed Girls,’ by Queen.• I believe the music we chose was perfect for our documentary, we manipulated the sounds levels carefully and spent a lot of time deciding which one was right on ‘Garageband,’• In the end we decided on ‘Secret Agent Guitar 3’ and ‘Secret Agent 4’ looped over and over.
Special Effects• Our long interviews were sliced up and transitions were put in place to create the effect that we had been talking for a while and that we had chosen the vital parts of the interview in for documentary.• Just like in ‘Supersize Me,’ we created graphics to display on- screen what the voiceover was saying:The graphic we created A screen shot from Supersize Me
• Moreover, as we used manual focus we were able to blur our shots however we wanted, so when we took a panning shot of the cafeteria at college we were able to blur them out, which creates anonymity and creates a sense of significance for our intended teenage audience. A screen shot from our documentary, ‘Textbooks, Tweets and Toddlers,’
Magazine Article• This is our magazine article, before deciding how we were going to lay it out we researched which magazine it was suitable for. We found that ‘Teen Vogue,’ was the perfect one. On their website they describe it as, “following the basic tenets of teen magazines, although with a more glossy view which fits with the template of the Vogue style. The magazine also features more serious topics such as discussions about teen pregnancy.”
• We also included a picture of our presenter in the middle of the page to link it properly to our documentary, also captioned it to make it appear more professional. A double page spread Our double page spread from Teen Vogue
• Mastheads usually include some sort of pun or a way to grab the readers attention by being provocative, which is what we included in ours, just as ‘Teen Vogue,’ does:• For ours we chose, “It’s a bumpy ride!” which from our research we determined would suit our target audience of teenage girls.
• Drop caps are used to begin the article, as a sort of mark that catches your eye and tells you where to read from. We used a drop cap, just as Teen Vogue does:• We also used a pull quote which is a typical convention for all magazines: Our double page spread
• As for all professional magazines advertising something they put the time, date and channel it’ll be shown on, which is exactly what we’ve done:• We also created some cartoon babies that represent their countries on the second page to illustrate that teen pregnancy happens all over the globe and that maybe we should get used it.
Radio Trailer• As we were planning our radio trailer we listened to some from stations like, ‘BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4’ ‘Capital FM,’ and ‘BRMB,’ and we filled in these sheets (presented at in the right-hand corner).• Finally we decided on BBC Radio 1 as it is the most appropriate for our target audience.• We added the same music from our documentary to our radio trailer, this creates a strong link and is a typical advertising strategy.• We kept our language bright and breezy and took snippets from the documentary to further reinforce the connection between the two.• All of the trailers we listened to ranged from about 30 to 50 seconds long, so we aimed for between that and came out with around 32 seconds which we deem perfect. It’s fast paced and because the music is upbeat it creates an exciting atmosphere.