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Codes and Conventions


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Victoria Emerson reveals some of the codes and conventions in Documentary.

Victoria Emerson reveals some of the codes and conventions in Documentary.

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  • 3. SPELLBOUND - CODES AND CONVENTIONS…INTERCUTIntercuts were used frequently in Spellbound, to make theS more interesting.interviews more substantial and informational, whilst making itappearPASSIVE/INDIRECTMODE OF ADDRESSIn the footage of the actual competition, candidatesused passive mode of address to make the audiencefeel like they were observing, rather than being fullyinvolved. This also helped the protagonists, as theydidn‟t have to worry about where to look. This adds tothe realism of the event, whereas if the contestantshad looked at the camera during the competition, itwould have looked staged.
  • 4. SPELLBOUND - CODES AND CONVENTIONS (CONTINUED)PROFILESHOTS enable the audience to familiarise with theThis Documentary in particular, featured a heavy amount of profileshots. These shotssubjects, by observing the facial expressions close up. In this case, ithelped differentiate between the protagonists and the othercontestants.INTERVIEWSSpellbound featured a lot of interviews, as it followed 8 differentfamilies, specifically the contestant children, as well as experts(previous winners). This helps to reinforce the seriousness and The winner: Napur Lalaimportance of the subject matter, it also helps the audience to gainsome understanding of „Spelling Bees‟ and why Americans endorseit so much.
  • 5. SPELLBOUND – MARKET RESEARCHAn interview that the BBC did with Jeff Blitz (director)reveals the market research he had to do beforefilming/producing Spellbound. How did you encounter Q: How long did it take to findthe national Spelling Bee all the subjects, and how longcompetition? did you shoot for?A: I saw the Bee on ESPN in 1997. A: We researched for about a year and shot for over six months.Q: How did you go aboutchoosing the children youd befilming during thedocumentary?A: I did spend months handicapping the spellers. Istudied which kids had gone far in 1998 and wereyoung enough to return. Then I examined the wordsthey spelled in 1998, trying to figure out which ofthese kids had lucked into the later rounds andwhich really defeated some truly hard words.
  • 6. SPELLBOUND – TARGET AUDIENCEThough the Documentary heavily involves children of between 8 – 13years, it also features parents. This Documentary would target a globalmarket, because the subject is one that defines the United States ofAmerica, and other countries may have never experienced itbefore, therefore making them more interested in the process. The targetmarket for this Documentary would be either students the age of 6 – 14who are interested in spelling, or parents, because this is a nichetopic, which means only those who are interested in spelling wouldchoose to watch it. Contestant: Harry Altman
  • 7. THE DYING ROOMS – CODES AND CONVENTIONSHANDHELD CAMERAThe Dying Rooms emphasises a „topsecret‟/urgent agenda in theirnarrative, meaning camera people would nothave had time to have set up the tripodproperly, or used fancy equipment. Most ofthe footage, if not all of it, was takenhandheld. This makes it seem more realisticand makes us take the situation moreseriously.INTERVIEWSMany of the local people interviewed had theirfaces blurred out, or their voice distorted, sothey could not be identified, which makes theaudience feel pity or fear for their wellbeing,and realise the harsh reality of the situation.Those interviews contrast heavily with theexperts, who were sat conveniently in front ofbookshelves which made them appear to befar more intelligent.
  • 8. THE DYING ROOMS – CODES AND CONVENTIONS (CONTINUED)CLOSE UP SHOTSThe Dying Rooms use a frequentamount of close ups, which allow theaudience to feel an intense sympathyfor the children, because there is lessbackground, meaning facialexpressions are more emphasised.
  • 9. THE DYING ROOMS - MARKET RESEARCHONLINE SUCCESSThe Dying Rooms was a film to hitsuccess, meaning it wasn‟t released inthe cinema, nor was it released onDVD. The film became an onlinesuccess.The film‟s aim was to uncover thesituation in China – not to make a profit.The Documentary exposes how theygain more information, as theDocumentary progresses.
  • 10. THE DYING ROOMS – TARGET AUDIENCEThe nature of the Documentary would be too gory and mature forany person under the age of sixteen. The content and images aregraphic and would be too explicit for children to watch. TheDocumentary targets adults, specifically parents, as parents canrelate to the children and would be more likely to sympathise.
  • 11. J.K. ROWLING – A YEAR IN THE LIFE – CODES AND CONVENTIONSESTABLISHING SHOTSEstablishing shots are used frequently tocommunicate whereabouts Jo is located. Anexample of this is at the beginning where itcuts to the city, building and flat room she is in.This shows that this place is particularlysignificant to her, and to the Harry Potterfranchise.PROFILE SHOTSProfile shots are used to mark theimportance of character and give thecharacter depth. The profile shotpictured to the right beganseverely, with only one eye visible tothe viewer (which often makes theaudience feel comfortable), but thecamera pans around, thereforeallowing the audience to warm to her – NATURAL LIGHT: A sign of purity, oftenessentially. used in Documentaries to reinforce a sense of realism.
  • 12. J.K. ROWLING – A YEAR IN THE LIFE – CODES AND CONVENTIONS (CONTINUED)MODE TYPEThe mode type is a hybrid, yet it isprominent throughout the entirety of theDocumentary. Jo is seen to be talkingactively and directly to the interviewer.Though, the audience is not isolatedbecause her body language is facing thecamera, welcoming the viewer into theconversation. The conversation seemsintimate, as if it is you (the viewer), her and MODE OF ADDRESS: Jo converses with the interviewerthe interviewer. The interviewer is also the in a friendly manner, but faces the audience.„voice of God‟, thus branding the mode ofDocumentary a hybrid betweenParticipatory and Expository.
  • 13. J.K. ROWLING – A YEAR IN THE LIFE – MARKET RESEARCHMARKET RESEARCHIn an description of the Documentary on hisofficial webpage, Runcie explains that not muchmarket research was done to uncover J.K.Rowling‟s thoughts, and that he simply spoke toher.“It‟s an intimate, personal encounter, in whichJ.K. Rowling talks simply and honestly abouther life and her writing. It was not made as aglitzy publicity film because I wasn‟t veryinterested in making something anyone elsecould have done. Instead, the aim was tomake something more quietly revealing, todiscover what Rowling really thought, and todiscuss some of the central themes of herwork; childhood hopes and fears, loyalty andbetrayal, chance and fate. I didn‟t ask verymuch about magic, or quidditch, or the twistsand turns of the Harry Potter story, as Iwanted to get to the heart of what her writingwas really about.” – James Runcie
  • 14. J.K. ROWLING – A YEAR IN THE LIFE – TARGET AUDIENCETARGET AUDIENCEThe target audience of this Documentaryis aimed at the older fans (12+) of theHarry Potter franchise, as some of thecontent is too severe/mature for children.
  • 15. TAKING LIBERTIES – CODES AND CONVENTIONSESTABLISHING SHOTSThe establishing shots summarises theenvironment where the Documentary is set.The bottom left picture clarifies that Scotlandhas influence over Britain too, and the pictureson the right hand side connote England‟seccentricity/stereotype.AURAL SIGNIFIERThe music is an example of patriotic Britishsymphony. This reinforces the images (shownto the right) and builds on the way peopleperceive Britain.HANDHELD FOOTAGEHand held footage of some citizens preventedfrom protesting against the war is used toportray the politicians as unjust and brutish,due to their „manipulation of the police.‟
  • 16. TAKING LIBERTIES – CODES AND CONVENTIONS (CONTINUED)SYMBOLIC IMAGESThis image (shown right) was used in amontage, explaining one of Hitler‟s schemes.The image symbolises torture, similar to whatChristians believe Jesus suffered. The otherimage (further right) involves the Nazisymbol, implicating that a comparison is goingto be made between Hitler and Tony Blair.STOCK FOOTAGEStock footage of Winston Churchill is shown.Stock footage is used to show depth in thesubject, and reinforce the idea behind theDocumentary.
  • 17. TAKING LIBERTIES – MARKET RESEARCHMARKET RESEARCHA review from Rotten Tomatoes states:“Filmmaker Chris Atkins uses his documentary tomake a case for the erosion of civil liberties in theTaking Liberties administration of prime ministerTony Blair. Atkins uses a combination of archivaland interview footage to reveals a series ofheinous injustices carried out against Britishcitizens, from unlawful imprisonment, tooutrageous terrorism accusations, to punishmentby torture and outlawed protests. Highlightsinclude Jack Straws negotiations with the UnitedStates that yielded an unfavorable balance ofextraditing power in favor of the U.S., and WalterWolfgangs arrest, under the blanket ofterrorism, for heckling a Labour Party conference.Original animated sequences link individual thesegments, narrated by Ashley Jensen.” ~ NathanSouthern, Rovi
  • 18. TAKING LIBERTIES – MARKET RESEARCHTARGET AUDIENCEThe documentary is heavilypolitical, featuring explicit symbolismand also contains themes of violenceand conspiracy. Therefore it is notsuitable for children, or people belowthe age of 15. The target audiencewould most likely be for the moremature demographic from 30 – 80.
  • 19. UNDERCOVER RETIREMENT HOME – CODES AND CONVENTIONSTITLESThis Documentary uses a title , explainingto the audience who the „voice of god‟ is.VOICE OF GOD Narration is used in this Documentary, therefore making it an Expository/Participatory Documentary.INTERVIEWSDispatches involved at least oneinterview, and it was composed in theconvention manner, wherein theinterviewee is on the right or left handside, facing the interviewer, addressing theaudience passively.
  • 20. UNDERCOVER RETIREMENT HOME – CODES AND CONVENTIONS (CONTINUED)MODE OF ADDRESSAs mentioned on the previous slide, passivemode of address is used in the interviews.However, Morland Sanders appears to beaddressing the audience directly, as anauthoritive guide to the viewers. It could beargued that this could be seen as intimidating, butit could also be seen as familiarising with theaudience.SUBTITLESOften in Documentaries, when they takeuncover/top secret footage, the sound becomesmuffled or distorted. Subtitles are an effectiveoption, to ensure that people can understandwhat is being said. This is quite common inDocumentaries.
  • 21. UNDERCOVER RETIREMENT HOME – MARKET RESEARCH + TARGET AUDIENCEMARKET RESEARCH TARGETIn order to gain more information on thePart Exchange option, Dispatches sent in a AUDIENCEto – 80 year The target audience, due the subject matter, would be 4079 year old actress to pretend to be olds, because some middle ageddownsizing her house. This was shown in adults could be wanting to watch forthe Documentary, and the entire the benefit of their elderly parents, andDocumentary centred around that the elderly would watch because itinvestigation. concerns their wellbeing.McCarthy And Stone responded to theprogramme, claiming that Dispatches hadnot asked for consent to film there, nor hadasked for permission to broadcast thefootage.