Early Documentary• Pre 1990 – Dominated by the novelty of showing an event. – Single-shot moments captured on film.• The term ‘documentary’ was not coined until 1926.• John Grierson – Both a director and producer, he was influential through his creations.• Robert J. Flaherty – ‘Nanook of the North’ (1922) – First ever documentary.• Leni Riefenstahl – ‘Triumph of the Will’ (1935) – Shot her to fame – First piece of propaganda
Propaganda• Leni Riefenstahl – ‘Triumph of the Will’ (1935) – Shot Riefenstahl to instant and everlasting fame.• It has been condemned as a National Socialist propaganda film.• Riefenstahl was hired by Adolf Hitler to create the documentary which displayed the activities the Nazi Party carried out during the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg. – The documentary contains both speeches given by various Nazi leaders and extracts of speeches given by Hitler.• Hitler chose Riefenstahl as he thought she would be able to put an artistic style on to it and also believed she would be able to portray what he was doing in a more ‘positive’ way.• Techniques used by Riefenstahl include, moving cameras, use of long focus lenses (to create a distorted perspective) and a innovative approach to both cinematography and music. – Commentary is used once which appears at the beginning of the documentary which is in the form of a prologue.
Direct Cinema• Documentary genre between 1958 and 1962 – similar to Cinéma Vérité.• Looks for ‘privileged moments’ – can result in just a small percentage of footage being used in the final piece – editing may be used heavily to produce this outcome.• No set-ups should be used and instead film crews are just observing situations and not interfering to produce certain outcomes.
Cinéma Vérité• Cinéma Vérité is a documentary style it translates to ‘truthful cinema’. – Developed by French film directors in 1960.• It combines naturalistic techniques with the use of editing, cinematography, set-ups and the use of the camera to provoke certain scenarios.• It suggests a naturalistic point of view to the audience.
Influences - John GriersonIn 1927 Grierson had the belief that film could be enlisted todeal with the problems of the Great Depression and wouldhelp build national morale and consensus. He was alsoinvolved in the making of ‘Night Mail’ (1936).
Nanook of the North – 1922 – Robert Flaherty• The first ever documentary to be produced.• Received criticism for containing many ‘set ups’. – Footage of trading, hunting fishing etc. suggests its real, but scenes involve the ‘cast’ using ‘old techniques’ for these activities and therefore suggest that it is staged.• Launched the debate of what documentary is.
Media Dependency• Audiences become dependent on media, such as TV programs, Documentaries, Radio, Films etc. – Highlighting the influence of these media types and the impact the content has on the public.• Documentaries suggest that what is being shown is ‘real’ and therefore people feel that they are watching something that is true and are given correct information etc.• For example, if they are watching a documentary, the information whether it be through voice-over or facts/statistics, the information is still believed as real because the audience are being told it.
Influence on TV and how its changed over the years…• Channels such as Channel 4 and ITV distribute documentaries regularly on TV.• Channel 4 distributed ‘Big Brother’ from 2000 – 2010 – it was then picked up by Channel 5. – Shown at prime time – Every night 8/9/10pm and then Friday 8:30/9pm and 11pm ‘eviction night’.• Channel 4 also distributes documentaries such as ‘Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’. – Tuesday 9pm – Prime time.