Documentary Theory Final


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Documentary Theory Final

  1. 1. + Theory of Documentary
  2. 2. + The Aim of a Documentary  The aim of any documentary is to report something that is real, with evidence. Documentaries are made up of real life footage and reconstructions of events and/or situations. This is done to contrast and question what the interviewee is saying. They also include narration to anchor meaning, however most of the time the narrator is not seen. “What distinguishes a documentary is the portrayal of sound and images of actuality.” (John Corner 1995)  Documentaries can be based on the following; political, historical, social, cultural and religious issues. All documentaries have to be based on fact, however real evidence is sometimes unavailable so we use reconstructions of past events to demonstrate what happened these reconstructions don‟t have to contain analysis some do, however some don‟t.
  3. 3. + The History of Documentaries  The documentary genre was been developed in the 1930‟s by John Grierson and his team at the General Post Office.  The “original” actor and “original” scene are the best guidelines for the fiction counterparts.  As a result of his „research‟ he created documentires such as “Coal Face” and “Housing Problems”.
  4. 4. + John Grierson  In 1926 John Grierson came up with the term „Documentary‟ “The creativity of actuality”  John Grierson shot real people and real situations in a real environment.  Old style documentaries had a sense of persuasion. Which was usually bias to one party or side. Unlike Grierson‟s documentaries, which were more focused on the facts.  A lot of debates have been carried out about how much creativity should be allowed in a documentary.
  5. 5. + Film Makers  Film makers argue that reconstruction is going to have to happen as not everything that happens can be captured, when it happens.  They also argue that when people are filmed from a “reality” POV it is no longer reality because people change on camera.  'I think that the truth is what you actually come away with at the end of seeing a film. I mean it's your truth that you're seeing. Everybody who makes a film is putting their own truth on screen.' - Diane Tammes,
  6. 6. + Creative Development Peter Mayeux: says that 'documentaries present facts about a subject using real events, people, places then creatively interpret all comments on those realities and peoples concerns'.  Some analysts argue that the term documentary should be replaced with the term “non-fiction programming”, because of creative development over the years.  People argue about what they “think” a documentary should contain, however the most common thoughts are…  Recorded sound – real experiences or reality.  Not just facts, but some arguments so the audience draw their own conclusion.
  7. 7. + Five Elements of Documentary  John Corner, a professor at the University of Liverpool, believed that there are 5 central elements to documentaries: 1. Observation 2. Interview 3. Dramatisation 4. Mise en Scene 5. Exposition
  8. 8. + Observation and Interviews  Most documentaries include observations. This is usually done by placing the camera as if it is unseen and the audience becoming a part of what is seen, almost from their POV.  All documentaries include interviews, this is because a documentary relies on interviews to support or contrast with the topic/argument. The film maker has the option to cut up an interview or just let it run as one piece, which is key in delivering the right message to your audience.
  9. 9. + Dramatisation, Mise En Scene and Exposition  Dramatiseation: A documentary maker will do this through observation. It is used to build arguments and create conflict.  Mise En Scene: This a major element of any documentary. This is done to make reality for the audience so it has to be relevant. Mise En Scene includes; set, props, costume, makeup, lighting and colour.  Exposition: This is the part of the documentary which explored the argument/theme of documentary. This can be done in many ways one being interviews and another being commentary (voiceovers). This can be approached in multiple ways.
  10. 10. + Truth and Reality 'It is critical that the film makers be rid of the fantasy that the documentary can be unproblematic representation of reality and that the 'truth' can be conveniently dispensed and revealed like valium.' -Dennis O'Rourke.  This is another major argument in the world of documentaries, as it is unknown how much truth and reality, is “actual” truth and reality. John Corner says this is why facts or evidence is key when talking about the truth.  The most popular documentaries are the ones that focus on sex, violence, drugs, gangs and law and order.
  11. 11. + People‟s Right To Know  Peoples right to know is really important as it can change the way the world see people and the current laws against people and things. For example Ken Loach's documentary of Cathy Come Home, was so influential that the laws were changed about homeless people.  A lot of documentaries are based on peoples right to know. For example they can be about information the government is not saying openly to the public.
  12. 12. + Types of Documentary  Fully Narrated:   In this style of documentary DMA (direct mode of address) is used to tell the audience what is happening on screen. This is done through the use of voice overs, sometimes referred to as „The Voice of God‟ . This is usually found in documentaries about space and animals. Fly On The Wall:  This style of documentaries rely on observations, which allows the audience to perceive the documentary in their own way. In these documentaries there is little/no narration to allow this perception. This style is used commonly in Police and A&E documentaries.
  13. 13. + Types of Documentary (Continued)  Mixed   This style of documentary uses a wide range of documentary techniques to produce a detailed and informing documentary. They use a combination of interview, observations and narration to develop the documentaries narrative. This style is used in documentaries about music and film. Self Reflective:  This style of documentary acknowledges the camera, talking/narrating what is going on in the screen. Which some say takes the focus away from the issue and makes it more about the star „presenting‟.
  14. 14. + Types of Documentary (Continued)  Docudrama:   This style of documentary uses facts to create a fictional narrative, made up of re-enactments. These type of documentaries are some of the most popular as they are „normally‟ about major events that have happened. For example The Death of JFK amongst many others. This is a dangerous style as it can be misleading. Docusoaps:  This style of documentary is one of the most popular styles on TV in the past 10 years this is because they follow the daily life of celebrities. This style came from the UK with documentaries such as; Katy Price, Airline and Peter Andre. Another reason they are popular with TV producers is because they are low cost as no actors have to be hired.
  15. 15. + Disneyfiction  Steven Barnett's Theory  Steven Barnett has a theroy about television and its need to broadcast things that get ratings instead of serious documentaries that inform and teach the public of major events in history and the future. He believes that documentaries have been 'dumbed down' for audiences since this is what people have become used to. There are claims that this shows television being 'cheap' and being more concerned about getting 'ratings' instead showing useful or important documentaries.
  16. 16. + Documentary Conventions All documentaries follow narrative conventions. This is important as each documentary focuses on a beginning, middle and end. They have a strong focus on conflict and use music and sound effects to make them more interesting to the audience alongside a documentaries cinematography.  Beginning:   Middle:   At the start they will pose a question to the audience and start to look at some interviews and footage to build conflict about that question. At this point they will look in detail at both sides of the argument and look at different opinions about the subject. Building a stronger argument. End:  At the end of the documentary they will expose the exposition and resolve any complications for the audience.
  17. 17. + Documentary Conventions (Continued)  Conflict:   Selection and Construction:   Conflict is important in any documentary, as it build the argument and poses different questions to the audience. Conflict in documentaries should be shown through reconstruction and interviews. This is a vital part in making a documentary because you have to think of every part of the documentary that you want to develop. From the topic to; who, what, when, where, why, and how you are going to do it. You also must look at the cost and time it is going to take you to build this documentary. Conclusion:  To develop a documentary to a high standard, the planning has to be in a high amount of detail and when planning you musty have a in depth knowledge of your chosen topic and know what content you want to shoot.