Forms and conventions of documentary

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For A2 Film students

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Forms and conventions of documentary

  1. 1. FORMS AND CONVENTIONS OF DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING
  2. 2. USE OF VERBAL LANGUAGE IN DOCUMENTARYOverheard Exchange: Recording of seemingly spontaneous dialoguebetween two or more participants engaged in conversation.Testimony: The recording of information or opinion by witnesses, experts orother participants. May involve direct address to the camera, or a voiceover.Exposition: Use of a voiceover or direct address to provide essentialinformation and argument.
  3. 3. ‘MODES’ OF DOCUMENTARYBill Nichols (2001)defines six modes of documentary:1. Poetic: representing reality in a way designed to manipulate the audience towards an emotional response e.g. through then use of non diegetic music or montage editing.2. Expository: Information presented in a direct form, audience acknowledged sometimes with a ‘voice-of-god’ narration and/or ‘testimony’3. Observational (fly-on-the-wall): Developed with handheld cameras and long takes in the 1950s/60s. Audience should not be aware of the filmmaker; an attempt to capture reality as it unfolds.4. Participatory or Interactive: Film-maker interviews/interacts with participants.5. Reflexive: Represents awareness that the film is constructing its own reality.6. Performative: Represents reality in a stylised way that evokes the mood of fiction films to encourage audience engagement. Often autobiographical, may involve reconstruction of events.
  4. 4. REPRESENTATION OF THE ‘REAL’ Reality Mediation Representation The real world The process of producing the The text itself. film. A ‘representation’ of the real world.The way someone or something is represented is not necessarily reality. For example you may feel therepresentation of your academic performance In your last report does not reflect reality. Although Iwould beg to differ!! Representations can often be subjective rather than objective.

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