“ An extract from a new documentary TV programme, lasting approximately five minutes, together with a double-page spread from a listing magazine focused on the documentary, and a newspaper advertisement for the documentary”
What is a Documentary?
A documentary is a film showing information on the basis of proof and evidence to support it.
It captures life as it is- as it naturally appears.
History of Documentaries
Documentary we know today began with Nanook of the North, made by Robert Flaherty in 1922.
Nanook was the first factual feature length film and the first to the ‘creative interpretation of reality’.
The means that he had staged most scenes for the camera to make it more interesting and exciting for the audience.
There was many criticisms of this and this lead to backlash. People argued that it was not giving a true representation of reality and it lead to direct cinema which aimed to present social and political issues in a way changed by the film maker.
History of Documentaries
The modern social issue for example super size me has its origins from direct cinema.
The film maker usually tries to portray the text as ‘real’ even though they have full control over the editing.
Movement into film making made cinema verite. This technique can make film scenes more real and ‘truthful’ to an audience and people making documentaries usually use code and conventions to fool audience to think the text is factual when it isn't. This is also called mockumentary.
Also because the codes and conventions of a documentary can be faked it makes people wonder why we put so much faith into documentaries.
Bowling for columbine (2002)
This documentary was controversial as the notion of verit é was challenged. In one scene the subjects reported that thy had been mislead during filming as they thought Michael Moore was there to inspect their guns. Also a factory that creates missiles was filmed with Michael Moore narrating that they hold nuclear heads, when they in fact did not.
Documentary Companies They are many companies today who produce and broadcast documentaries (BBC, C4) such as channel four’s most recent documentary ‘The Worlds Greatest Musical Prodigies’ and ‘The Monkey Baby’. Byron documented children on gaming addiction. In Byron’s investigation into addiction, she compared obsession with gaming to heroin addiction and labelled computer fantasy games as being "childish".
Nature- for example animals, plants, and other non human living creatures, usually in their natural habitat. (Life reptiles and amphibians)
Quest- for example trying to find something out, get to the bottom of something.
People- for example addiction, extraordinary people . Exceptional talents. (Extraordinary people-women with giant legs)
Conventions of Documentaries
Voice over- authoritative, makes people think they have specialist knowledge, the right idea about the subject.
‘ Real’ footage- seen as non fictional, real footage acts as evidence to back up point. For example newspaper article.
Archival footage/stills- adds realism, used mainly if director cannot get video footage. For example newspaper image
Conventions of Documentaries
Interviews with ‘experts’- used to authenticate the views expressed in the documentary. Will usually be disproven by documentary. For example psychologist advice.
Text- used to anchor images in time and place. Quick way of showing information. For example labels and dates.
Sound- used to reinforce message or undermine or to bridge. For example if talking about dogs, barking would be a diegetic sound in the background.
My weapon is a dog
Telling people about the new craze of dogs trained to attack.
Opinions from young people about why they use dogs as weapons.
Setting is mostly in parks around estates, and taken at night time.
Shows the problems of using dogs as weapons. Facts about dog casualties, abandoned dogs.
Mobile video footage from RSPCA showing how dogs are abused
Victims of dogs as weapons give their story.
Title sequence is plain with special effects to give the effect of dog bites.
Shows documentary leader- subtitle of name
Shots of aggressive dogs. May shock audience,
not shown as loveable domestic pets.
Gary: Psychic and obsessed
Opens with an establishing shot, setting the scene, for example showing his place of work.
Shows inside his work place showing his tools.
The voice over also explains him as the “Psychic master” this interests the audience and make them want to watch it to find out what is so special about him.
At times the camera is shaky, for example when in the room, the lighting is low and there is music to help build tension when he is carrying out his psychic routine.
The title sequence is very plain. It is white text on a black background.
No special effects used.
The person carrying out the documentary
is not shown on screen; you only hear their
voice from behind the camera.
Two foot tall teen
It opens with the person carrying put the documentary introducing who they are looking at “This is blah” and gives facts about her.
The girl they are doing the documentary on is not English so there are subtitles. The girl talks to the camera about herself.
There are then many shots of the village she lives in showing her way of life with voice over giving facts about India.
They also talk about her family in the voice over, then her parents talk to the camera more.
Also of facts are given about India and her parents explains what it is like for their daughter being two foot tall at 16 years old.
Again the person carrying out the document is not
shown on screen; you only hear their voice from
behind the camera.
Continued Documentary Research This screenshot shows the classic convention of documentaries, the interview with the expert. The shot is classically portrayed in a close up with the expert sitting. The location can range from a library study, a GP’s office or a theatre, it relies on the context. Documentaries also display subtitles for the experts who do not speak the target audience’s language. This shot shows another convention of a documentary, secondary data. In this example it is of a concert but secondary data can range from CCTV footage to home made family videos. The clip would usually be edited down to show the most amount of information in the shortest time available, sometimes the presenter on a quest will be shown watching this secondary data on a screen to relate to the audience’s idea of ‘we’ are going on a quest.
Print Research - Adverts These adverts of documentaries are a indication of what to create for our own product. This picture has classic natural colours to reflect the context of the documentary as well as its genre, which is nature. This advert is a close up of a guy eating some chips which exaggerates the notion that eating fast food is bad for you. The caption ‘A film of epic portions’ also boasts how good the documentary is going to be, and it is eagerly anticipated. Super size me (2004) Life in cold blood (2008)
This advert has strong vivid colours to stand out from the page, but also it shows the quest leader holding the globe which connotes that he is going to take you through the worlds issues. Bowling for columbine (2002) Print Research - Adverts
Cloudy and dark mise en scene to connote a magical and perhaps dark magic atmosphere. Browns body language is stern and staring directly into the camera to influence intimidation, the suit he is wearing is majority black which anchors the mystical theme and his persona. Fingers crossed is a typical hand gesture to suggest luck, which signifies his suppose trick of predicting the lottery. Channel four symbol is a recognisable and main stream logo that people distinguish, thus wanting to watch the trick. This font is again a reoccurring feature of channel four’s programs advertising, so it hopes to bring a bigger audience. Print Research – Adverts ( guardian 9th September)
Print - Research The house style for this again is the colour around the top edges and the date written in white. The colour of this page has changed from blue to red to show the readers the listings on this page is for another day They also have another house style of always putting the day on the listings and television. This is useful for the reader if they are flicking through quickly to find a particular page. By having main digital channels on the side this is useful for people with digital TV and they don’t have to flick to another page. One problem of this however is some people may want other digital channels and not just these ones Again a small image is used alongside text. The image is useful because it can help jog readers memory if they cant exactly remember the program. Again there is small film strip icon signifying to the readers it is a film, without them having to search through titles to find films Bold text is used for titles of programmes and the times to make then clearer for readers to see and distinguish them from programme descriptions
Today's choices is written in bold this will sway the reader to look what are the most popular viewed programmes and they might find one that will interest them and they watch it Throughout the magazine they use a different colour for each day. This makes it easier for the reader. For example any colours that are blue around the edges they will know its Sundays listings They also have another house style of always putting the day on the listings and television. This is useful for the reader if they are flicking through quickly to find a particular page. A small image is used alongside text. The image is useful because it can help jog readers memory if they cant exactly remember Bold text is used for titles of programmes and times to make then clearer for readers to see and distinguish them from programme descriptions. The name of the editor is used so readers know who edited the magazine. Also the editor could get called for a editing job There is a large image of ‘the stig’. this is the highlight of the show as he may be revealed. His body language is secretive and un-amused as him arms are folded. There is small film strip icon signifying to the readers it is a film, without them having to search through titles to find films Throughout the listings magazine columns are used. This help make the text more user friendly and easier to read and looks neater
The date on this listing magazine is smaller to the other one. It is not as bold as the others By putting terrestrial is informs the readers straight away there is no digital listings on the page The house style of this magazine is to have a semi circle with the day in it. Each day is coloured in a different colour to signify the readers it is a different day By telling the readers the story so far it helps them to remember what has been happening in case they missed the last episode. The image also help the reader to remember in-case they forgot Page numbers are used so in the contents they can flick to the page they want Each column is headed with the channel this makes it easier for the reader Compared to the other listings magazines this one only has two plain colours. Bold text is used for titles of programmes and the times to make then clearer for readers to see and distinguish them from programme descriptions again columns are used. This help make the text more user friendly and easier to read and looks neater