Activity: What is a documentary?Take a couple of minutes to think and then...Individually write one sentence summarising what a documentary is.
Is it a documentary?...CCTV Footage capturing peoples lives?
Camcorders at family partiesIs anyone who captures elements of real life on a documentary maker?
The Key Ingredients of a Documentary... Reality (A film that deals with an element of the real world)- The CCTV does this. Representation (A film maker then chooses to represent elements of that reality to the audience)- The CCTV doesnt do this but the dad chooses which bits of the party to capture. Presentation (how is the film planned, edited and presented to the audience?)- This final element is key in defining what a documentary is.
What is a documentary?The word documentary has its root in the Latin word "docere" which meant to teach or instruct.As documentary makers we strive to provide the audience with our representation of a reality which is presented in a way in which we can teach, instruct or have a profound and emotional effect on the audience.
John GriersonHe was a founder of the 1930s British documentary movement and he coined the phrase..."Documentaries are the creative treatment of actuality."
Creative treatment of actuality!Documentary makers need to be creative in their treatment of facts but must not lie or mislead.Is leaving certain elements of footage out of the final edit lying?
Working Hypothesis and InterpretationWhat are your thoughts and beliefs about the world you are going to show in your film, the main “statement” that you want to emerge out of the film ʼs dialectics? You will write a hypothesis statement incorporating this wording:In life I believe that:My film will show this in action by exploring (situation):The main conflict is between:Ultimately, I want the audience to feel:and to understand that:
TopicWrite a concise paragraph about:1. Your filmʼs subject (person, group, environment, social issue, etc.)2. The necessary background information the audience must have to understand and to be interested in the enclosed world you intend to present. Be sure to show how this information will emerge.
Action SequencesWrite a brief paragraph for each intended sequence that shows an activity. (What is a sequence). Incorporate the following:1. What the activity is and what conflict it evidences2. A metaphor to explain its subtextual meaning3. The expected structure of events4. What the sequence should contribute to the whole film and to the hypothesis5. What facts the audience must gather from watching it6. What key, emblematic imagery you hope to capture
Main CharactersWrite a brief paragraph about each of your main characters. For each include:1. Who (name, relationship to others in film and so on)2. Where (where does this person fit in the scheme of things?)3. What (what is this characterʼs role, what makes the character(s) interesting, worthy of special attention and significant? What is this character trying to do or to get at?)
ConflictWhat is at issue in this film? Consider:1. Who wants what of whom?2. What conflicting principles do the characters stand for?3. Does your film put different principles in opposition (of opinion, of view, of vision and so forth)?4. How will we see one force finally meet with the other? (the “confrontation”-- very Important)5. What range of possible developments do you see emerging from this confrontation?
StructureWrite a brief paragraph on how you hope to structure your film. When you are doing this, consider:1. How will you will handle the progression of time in the film2. How and at what point information important to story development will appear3. What you intend as the climactic sequence and where this should go4. How this relates to other sequences in terms of the action rising toward the filmʼs projected “crisis” or emotional apex and the falling action after it5. Sequences or interviews you intend to use as parallel storytelling.
Constructing a documentaryIn order to construct our own documentary it is important that we are able to deconstruct existing documentaries. In two groups consider the previous slides on planning a documentary. Discuss the Louis Theroux rap documentary and watch elements of it on YouTube. Then use the prompts from each section (1.structure 2. conflict 3. characters 4.sequences and 5.topic) to retrospectively plan Louis documentary with a paragraph on each section. Once you have written your 5 paragraphs then complete the Working Hypothesis and Interpretation prompts.