Modes of Documentary: Conventions
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Modes of Documentary: Conventions

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Typical conventions of Reflexive, Poetic, Observational, Expository Participatory

Typical conventions of Reflexive, Poetic, Observational, Expository Participatory

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Modes of Documentary: Conventions Modes of Documentary: Conventions Presentation Transcript

  • Modes of Documentary Typical Conventions
  • Expository Conventions
    • Voiceover, addresses the audience directly.
    • The voiceover may either be a ‘voice of God’ commentator (heard but not seen); or ‘voice of authority’ (seen and heard – usually an expert in the relevant field).
    • Images are used to illustrate (or sometimes counterpoint) the voiceover.
  • Expository Conventions...
    • Editing is used for continuity, to link together images that support the argument put forward in the voiceover.
    • A variety of footage, interviews, stills, archive material is assembled to support the argument.
    • Attempts to persuade the audience of a particular point of view, often by appealing to logic and the idea of a common-sense response.
  • Observational Conventions
    • Location shooting – using hand-held cameras.
    • Long takes dominate.
    • Synchronous (direct) sound recording.
    • No voiceover (in its purest form).
    • No interviews.
    • Documentary-maker’s presence is hidden.
    • Subjects pretend that they are not being filmed.
  • Reflexive Conventions
    • Borrows techniques from fiction film for an emotional, subjective response.
    • Emphasises the expressive nature of film; anti-realist techniques e.g. re-enactments, expressive lighting, dramatic music.
    • Voiceover (when present) is likely to be questioning and uncertain – rather than authoritative.
    • Reliance on suggestion and implied meaning rather than fact.
  • Performative Conventions
    • Documentary-maker (and crew) interact with the subject.
    • Documentary-maker comments on the process of making the documentary.
    • The documentary is often shaped into the narrative of an investigation or search, possibly without a satisfactory conclusion.
    • The audience is addressed in an emotional and direct way.
    • Subject matter often concerns identity (gender, sexuality) – rather than ‘factual’ topics.
  • Participatory or Interactive Conventions
    • Documentary-maker (and crew) interacts with the subject.
    • Interviews dominate but tend to be informal – literally ‘on the run’ questioning.
    • Use of archive material – stills, news footage, newspaper headlines, letters etc.
    • Location shooting; hand-held camera.
  • Participatory or Interactive Conventions...
    • Long takes dominate.
    • Synchronous (direct) sound recording.
    • Voiceover, usually by the documentary-maker.
    • Documentary-maker is visible to the audience – intervenes and participates in the action.
  • Poetic Conventions
    • Documentary-maker gives subjective view
    • Not in typical narrative structure
    • Particular mood/tone is created – enhanced by music
    • Some light rhetoric but not always
    • Events are under-developed and situations can be left unsolved
    • Unrelated shots edited together - linked by a mood/music
    • Perceived as Avant-garde (innovative, experimental, pushes boundaries)