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  1. 1. What is a documentary?<br />A documentary is a broad term to describe a movie that in some way “documents” or captures reality. Documentaries are often used to reveal an usual, interesting or unknown angle. <br />Purpose of documentary: <br />Documentaries concentrate upon actual evidence, which is related to real life events within the world around us.<br />Documentaries film real people, real life events and also explain historical events and scientific discoveries.<br />The purpose of documentaries allows the public to speak for themselves, which allows their views and opinions to get heard on national television. The documentary presenter often acts as a representative for the public.<br />The documentary puts forward an argument or a case through which the audience expect to learn something.<br />The documentary filmmakers hope to reveal information to the audience, this would most probably be something that the audience is not familiar with or unaware of about the past or present.<br />Documentary conventions:<br />Voiceover:<br />Voiceovers will usually be authoritative in some way. This encourages the audience to think that they either have some kind of specialist knowledge.<br />‘Real’ footage of events:<br />Documentaries are essentially seen as ‘non-fiction’, so all events presented to the audience are seen to be ‘real’.<br />Interviews with ‘experts’:<br />Documentaries interview experts it is used to authenticate the views expressed. Sometimes the interviewee may disagree with the message of the documentary, although the film maker will usually disprove them in some way.<br />Use of text/titles:<br />Documentaries usually use words on screens to anchor images in time and space. It is a quick and cheap way of conveying information.<br />Documentary styles: <br />Expository form:<br />Uses a narrator to address the audience.<br />Sometimes referred to as the ’ Voice of God’ as the commentator is heart but not seen.<br />We are expected to trust the narration as a definitive interpretation or anchor for the visual material.<br />Assembles a variety of footage, interviews and archive material to support the argument.<br />Observational mode:<br />Allows visual material to tell its own story without a narrator. This creates the impression that events are unfolding naturally and that the audience are free to come to their own conclusions.<br />No use of voiceover.<br />No interviews.<br />Reflexive form:<br />A sophisticated documentary style which reflects on the production process itself. This is achieved through explicitly acknowledgement of the camera & crew through deliberate juxtaposition of contradictory viewpoints or ideas. <br />Participatory (interactive):<br />Documentary maker interacts with topic.<br />Interviews dominate but tend to be formal.<br />Use of archive material such as stills, news footage, newspaper headlines, letters etc.<br />Location shooting – handheld cameras<br />Voiceover – usually by the documentary maker<br />