The BriefOur main task given in the beginning of the A2Media Studies course was to create the opening5 minutes for a television documentary. Wewere also told to construct a radio trailer and adouble page spread for a TV listings magazine tohelp advertise our documentary to the targetaudience. We started this task by researchingexisting television documentaries to see whatsort of things the target audience liked.
1.) In what ways does your media product use, develop orchallenge forms and conventions of real media products?
What topic did we base our documentary on?For our documentary, we chose the theme of Teen Life, focusingon Healthy Eating and Exercise amongst teenagers and youngadults for the first episode in the series. This is the episode wecreated the starting 5 minutes to. We chose to focus on thissubject because we feel all teens will be able to relate to thisbecause it affects everyone, and so many teens may have interestin the topic .This is very good for our documentary because it means it is likelyto have large viewing figures and lots of interest from the targetaudience. Teenagers frequently talk amongst themselves andrecommend things they like to their friends, so hopefully theviewers of the pilot episode would discuss the documentary withtheir friends and possibly recommend the programme to others,increasing viewing figures for the series.
Supersize MeWe started looking at documentariesduring class time. We watched thetelevision documentary “SupersizeMe” and analysed the content.Supersize Me was directed by andstarring Morgan Spurlock, and focuseson the negative impact fast food hason the average American’s life. This isa similar topic to the one we focusedon in our own documentary so wewere able to get inspiration from this.However, we focused on a differentaudience (British teenagers rather thanAmerican adults.)
The World’s Strictest Parents For individual research, I watched an episode of The World’s Strictest Parents and analysed it. This documentary has a very similar target audience to our documentary, so I was able to use it to get ideas for our own construction.
Further ResearchAs well as watching existing documentaries to findout the codes and conventions of this area oftelevision programme, we also did research into ourtopic of Healthy Eating and Exercise amongstteenagers and young people. We found lots of factsand statistics which we could then use throughoutour documentary during cutaway shots. We usedthese to inform and shock our audience, forexample: “In an official recent survey, doctors found17% of boys and 16% of girls between 12 and 15 areclassed as either overweight or obese.”
Bill Nichol’s Theory Of Documentary Modes• The Expository Mode• The Poetic Mode• The Observational Mode• The Participatory Mode• The Reflexive Mode• The Performative Mode
The Mode Of Our Documentary• Our documentary has a voiceover throughout• The narrator does not appear onscreen• Formal interviews are structured• Elements of fly on the wall (people eating)• Background music used throughout• Elements of Observational Mode• Elements of Expository Mode
Shot Types and Sound Levels
Formal Interview For this interview, we used a medium shot. However, many documentaries use more close up shots in expert interviews, such as the one shown here from “Supersize Me”. We decided to use a medium shot here to show more of the background, and because of spacial issues while filming. Looking back on this, I do not think a medium shot was a very effective shot to use, as the background looks very plain and there is a lot of blank white space that was difficult to edit out. We filmed this interview in a silent room so you were able to hear what she was saying clearly without interference from any background noise.
Vox Pops For our vox pops, we used a medium shot with the interviewee in the centre of the frame. This is very similar to the shot type that Morgan Spurlock used in his documentary “Supersize Me”, and I feel this shot type worked very effectively. There was some background noise of people talking because we filmed this vox pop in a crowded canteen, but because this is supposed to be an interview with a member of the general public and not an expert, this gives the interview a sense of realism. This background noise is also seen in vox pops in other documentaries, including Supersize Me.
MusicWe used minimalist, upbeat music in ourpiece. We set the sound level of the musiclow so the audience can still hear thevoiceover and interviews clearly over the topof the music. This is a common feature of alot of existing documentaries. Mostdocumentaries also use modern mainstreammusic to set the tone of the programme, butwe were unable to do this because ofcopyright reasons.