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Documentary week 3

presentation from week 3

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Documentary week 3

  1. 1. HNC Unit 61: Moving Image Documentary Production Week 3
  2. 2. Lesson Objectives • To further understand the development of the moving image documentary format • To begin to understand documentary production techniques • To decide on an area of Documentary to research for your first assignment
  3. 3. 3 What is a Documentary? • A documentary usually comes identified as such – by its title, publicity, press coverage, word of mouth, and subject matter. • The label leads us to expect that the persons, places and events shown to us exist and that the information presented about them will be trustworthy.
  4. 4. 4 Functions of Documentaries • A documentary may: • Take a stand • State an opinion • Advocate a solution to a problem • Do all three simultaneously • Documentaries use a range of theoretical and creative approaches to present their material.
  5. 5. 5 Types of Documentary • Like fiction films, documentaries have their own genres. They include: o The compilation film, produced by assembling images from archival sources (Ken Burns). o Direct-cinema or cinema-vérité, which records an ongoing event as it happens, with minimal interference from the filmmaker. o The nature documentary (PBS, Discovery) o The portrait documentary (History Channel, A&E). o The synthetic documentary, which mixes forms.
  6. 6. 6 “Facts” About the World • Every doc. aims to present facts about the world, but the ways in which this can be done are as varied as for fiction films.
  7. 7. Cinema Verite Cinema Verite (Cinema Truth) is a style of Documentary filmmaking developed by Jean Rouch Jean Rouch is an acclaimed filmmaker and explorer. He developed the notion of ‘Truthfull cinema and spent sixty years making films in Africa Rouch was inspired by Dziga Vertov’s theory about Kino Pravda (film truth). He experimented with camera work and editing to highlight subjects hidden behind the reality. Cinéma vérité and some of Rouch’s films can be referred to as observational or fly-on-the-wall documentaries
  8. 8. Moi, un Noir Me, a Black [person]; also released as I, a Negro) is a 1958 French film by Rouch. It is set in Abidjan, on the ivory Coast Extract Moi, un Noir depicts young Nigerian immigrants who left their country to find work in the Ivory Coast in Abidjan, the capital. The immigrants live in squalor, but dream of fame and fortune giving themselves the names of Western actors Jean Rouch spent nine months amongst his ethnographic subjects and allowed them to tell their own story in a very personal way, inherently challenging the rules of documentary. He did not have a plan but filmed long continuous shots The dialogue, voiceover and sound effects were recorded later
  9. 9. 9 Errol Morris • Errol Morris is a prominent documentarian whose films also re- interpret reality to highlight often the absurdity of life through a mixture of interviews and re-enactments: o The Fog of War (2003) o Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr. (1999) o Fast, Cheap and Out of Control (1997) o A Brief History of Time (1991) o The Thin Blue Line (1988) o Gates of Heaven (1978)
  10. 10. ‘The intention is to put the audience in some kind of odd reality. It’s the perverse element in filmmaking. [Its} a kind of ecstatic absurdity, things that make you question the nature of reality, of the universe in which we live. We think we understand the world around us. ..And I always, always have revered that element. Ecstatic absurdity: it’s the confrontation with meaninglessness’ Errol Morris
  11. 11. Errol Morris • The Thin Blue Line (1988) - a documentary about Randall Adams who was wrongly convicted and sentenced to a life imprisonment for the murder of a police officer. • The film relies on the conventions of interactive documentary - interviews and confessions.
  12. 12. Errol Morris • Tension arises when statements contradict each other and this draws our attention to the legitimacy of testimonies and confessions recorded in the documentary. • Randall Adams swears he did not kill the policeman but competing statements are presented. • Despite the quest for evidence, the film underlies the uncertainty of what evidence there is. • Thin Blue Line clip
  13. 13. Interviews The Thin Blue Line features a key technique used in documentary – the interview. Morris and other filmmakers use specific techniques to illicit responses from their interviewees Interviewees are put through experiences that can be quite artificial. It is important to know how unsettling this experience can be In preparation for an interview – you should complete a pre-interview in order to go through the individuals story and discuss what will happen • Formal interviews (studio/set up) • Informal interviews (Vox pops)
  14. 14. Reconstructions Morris came to believe that fictional stories can draw our attention to essential details or themes that factual accounts cannot. As Tim O’Brien wrote, “Our myths are stories or images that are not always true in particular but entirely true in general” His work stands in stark contrast with the ideals of early documentary, which sought truth by pure, unadulterated replication of reality through the lens of a camera.
  15. 15. 15 Subjective Choice • Sometimes events are staged (Thin Blue Line) to recreate an approximation of what might have happened, and sometimes filmmakers just let their subjects talk (Moi un Noir). Either way, the finished product is the result of subjective choice.
  16. 16. 16 Reliability Varies • Both viewers and filmmakers regard some staging as legitimate in a documentary if the staging serves the larger purpose of presenting information. • Regardless of the details of the production, documentaries ask us to assume that they present trustworthy info. about their topic. • Still, documentaries many not prove reliable. Throughout film history, many documentaries have been challenged as inaccurate.
  17. 17. 17 Recording Events Vs. Staging • In some cases the filmmakers are able to record events as they actually occur. • But the documentary may convey information in other ways as well – through charts, maps and other visual aids, or through staging. • Hoop Dreams
  18. 18. 18 The Fog of War (2003) • The Fog of War is About Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War. • It won the Oscar for Best Documentary. • Mixes a number of documentary techniques including compilation and portrait and is a mixture of both the categorical and the rhetorical forms. o clip from The Fog of War.
  19. 19. Categorical vs Rhetorical Form • Categorical documentaries normally present their subject matter in a subjective way • Their purpose is to inform • Olympia from last week is an example of categorical form as it presents its information in a relatively straightforward way • Rhetorical documentaries like The Thin Blue Line & The Fog of War, attempt to convey an idea and persuade the viewer to think a certain way. • The Fog of War presents the viewpoint/opinions of Robert McNamara
  20. 20. Categorical Form Common aspects of categorical form: • Begins by identifying it’s subject. • Simplistic patterns of development (small > large, local > national). • Overall thematic goal.
  21. 21. 21 Mixing the Form • Many documentaries are a mix of categorical and rhetorical form, providing a wealth of information and than making an ideological point about it. o Watch the clip from The Celluloid Closet
  22. 22. 22 Rhetorical Form • Capturing the Friedmans is another example of Rhetorical form. • With rhetorical form, the filmmaker presents a persuasive argument. The goal in such a film is to persuade the audience to adopt an opinion about the subject matter and perhaps to act on that opinion.
  23. 23. Expository technique • Errol Morris’ documentaries also contain examples of expository technique – He has an investigative approach to telling his stories like a detective so that the audience follows along with the filmmaker discovering information • Standard Operating Procedure (2008) • Documented abuse and torture of suspected terrorists by US army at Abu Ghraib prison • This Directorial style is known as expository • Often use a narrator as an authoritative voice • He withholds information to build suspense and drama Link to full film
  24. 24. Interrotron • Morris uses a particular technique to film the interviews. The Interrotron device allowed the interviewees to look directly into the camera
  25. 25. 25 Blurring Fact and Fiction • As you might expect, filmmakers have sometimes sought to blur the lines separating documentary and fiction. Mitchell Block’s No Lies is an example. • Mockumentaries such as This is Spinal Tap, are another blurred form. They imitate the conventions of documentaries but do not try to fool people into thinking they portray actuality. • JFK and Forrest Gump are other examples.
  26. 26. Define the following; • An example of Cinema Verite/Direct cinema documentary • Categorical form in Documentary • Rhetorical form in Documentary • Mixed form in documentary • Mokumentary Add a short paragraph to your blog with an example from a relevant film
  27. 27. Assignment 1 Assignment 1 Hand out date: 16/10/17 1000 word illustrated essay (learning outcome 1) ‘Describe the development of the Moving Image Documentary format with reference to key films and filmmakers’ Hand in date: 03/11/17
  28. 28. Books to reference Film Courage. (2014). Documentary Interview Techniques by Kevin Knoblock. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yp3RaJ0AOOc Pavlus, J. (2016). Errol Morris’s Secret Weapon for Unsettling Interviews: The Interrotron. Co.Design. Retrieved 3 July 2017, from https://www.fastcodesign.com/1663105/errol-morriss-secret-weapon-for- unsettling-interviews-the-interrotron Resha, D. (2015). The cinema of Errol Morris. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. D. Bordwell & K. Thompson., (1993). Film Art: An Introduction. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993. http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/

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presentation from week 3

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