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Existing Product Research
Documentary research
Codes and conventions of a
documentary
Such as any media product documentaries have their own codes and conventions.
Documentaries often feature medium close-up shots of an interviewee being interviewed
referred to as talking heads. Talking heads is a common feature in documentaries where
the interviewee is the focal point against a typically plain background as not to distract the
audience. Documentaries often use direct mode of address to connect to an audience by
looking directly at the camera however sometimes where applicable indirect mode of
address where the subject is looking slightly off camera can be used often to create
contrast. Similar to short films and even large-scale productions, cinematic establishing
shots are used to set the time and location of the documentary this can also give the
audience an insight to the documentary within the first few seconds. Documentaries often
included elements similar to a short film such as reenactments these help the audience to
visually understand what the documentary is discussing. The three main themes included
in documentaries is fact, statistic and opinion all featured in nearly every single
documentary as fundamentals to a product. Sound can be used in many different ways in
a documentary. Voiceovers can be used to keep an audience engaged and reveal more
information to what they are seeing this is determined as synchronous sound with the
voiceover matching with what you see on screen, it can also be used as a technic to break
up talking heads with footage to keep the audience engaged. If a voiceover isn't used,
often non-diegetic sound is layered over footage whether it is a soundtrack or score it can
be used to add emotion to a piece or keep the audience engaged without the use of
consistent dialogue.
Facts, Opinions and
Statistics
A typical convention of documentaries are facts, opinions and
statistics. Facts by definition are statements that can be proven
and have evidence to back them up and are vital to not only
informative documentaries but every type of documentary.
However, opinions are also vital when creating a documentary
as it allows people to not only share their view but sometimes
share what happened and their truth especially when using the
talking heads format this creates a relationship between the
people on screen and the audience establishing a personal
touch to the documentary as people are allowed to voice their
opinions just like you would be able to in a conversation.
Statistics provide quantitative and qualitative data that can
back up both facts and opinions as well as being impactful on
their own.
Talking heads
Talking heads allows for opinions to be voiced and shared with
the audience, often giving the opinion of what the audience
has just seen on screen providing an insight into the mind of
the people involved. Talking heads usually consists of a
medium close-up shot at an eye-level angle however these
can vary depending on the type of documentary style. As you
can see in the image above talking heads is typically
conducted with a direct mode of address to the audience
where the interviewee is looking directly into camera with a
clean non-distracting background to focus the attention of the
audience on the subject.
To engage the audience a variation of shots can be included to
try and ensure the audience does not get bored when watching
this can include Extreme long shot, Long shot. Mid-shot or
medium shot. The mid-shot or medium shot generally shows the
character from the waist to the top of the head(commonly used as
the main shot for talking heads ), Close-up, Extreme close-up, High-
angle, Low angle. Cinematography can be used in documentaries to
aid in setting the scene and create a relationship with the audience.
Camera angles can impact not only the quality of the documentary
but the diversity and engagement levels of audiences.
Cinematography
Katz's and Blumler Uses and Gratifications Theory
Blumler and Katz’s Uses and Gratification Theory suggests that media users play an active role in choosing
and using the media. Users take an active part in the communication process and are goal oriented in their
media use. The theorist say that a media user seeks out a media source that best fulfills the needs of
the user. Uses and gratifications assume that the user has alternate choices to satisfy their need.
DIVERSION-PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP- PERSONAL IDENTITY -SURVEILLANCE
EVALUATION
Katz's and Blumler Uses and Gratifications Theory can be
applied to documentaries and is something to consider when I
am creating my own. The audience may use the documentary
as a diversion from everyday life but could also use it as
surveillance as they can learn information. Although it is not
as apparent as the other two the audience may be able to use
the documentary for personal relationships as the
documentary will focus on the digital world and social media
it may become a talking point among friends satisfying that
need of the user. Personal identity may also be recognised
here as the user reflects on the impact technology and social
media has on their life.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
To better understand what motivates human beings, Maslow proposed that human needs can
be organized into a hierarchy. This hierarchy ranges from more concrete needs such as food and
water to abstract concepts such as self-fulfillment. According to Maslow, when a lower need is
met, the next need on the hierarchy becomes our focus of attention.
Evaluation
Maslow's hierarchy of needs can be something I
can considered when creating my documentary
as the modern media can be put in the safety
level of needs as people check the news to
become aware of their surroundings and safety
level. Social media/technology can be associated
with love/belonging as it is a way of connecting
with friends and family and can be a way of
increasing self-esteem confidence and creativity
all linking back to the hierarchy of needs.
Documentary theories
• Bill Nichols’ seminal text Introduction to Documentary (2010) breaks down the documentary into six
frequently cited sub-genres or "modes".
• “In documentary film and video, we can identify six modes of representation that function something like
sub-genres of the documentary film genre itself: poetic, expository, participatory, observational,
reflexive, performative. These six modes establish a loose framework of affiliation within
which individuals may work; they set up conventions that a given film may adopt; and they provide
specific expectations viewers anticipate having fulfilled.”
Poetic documentary is a subgenre of documentary
filmmaking that uses avant-garde techniques to evoke a
certain mood or feeling rather than prove a point through
a traditional linear narrative structure.
One of the poetic documentaries that I have taken the time to watch was a
Channel Five series, called, Extraordinary People. It is about certain people
across the world who obtain unique qualities, physically or an extraordinary
talent. The shows how the individual lives their everyday life and there is
usually a few interviews with the individual, as well as with the friends and
family of the person.
Evaluation
My documentary is a true story and even though it will have elements of a poetic documentary
such as a narrative structure when telling the story of her life however it will include facts and the
documentary will go on a journey with the audience to try and decipher what happened to her.
Expository documentaries include footage that supports and
strengthens the spoken argument of the film, including
stock footage, archival footage, b-roll, or re-enactments of
historical events. Expository documentaries are heavily
researched and constructed to inform and persuade.
Evaluation
An example of an expository documentary is :The Dust Bowl (2012). Ken Burns’
historical account of this disastrous drought during the Great Depression uses
photos and facts to supplement the causes and impact of one of the worst
droughts to plague North American farmland.
This documentary style is similar to the style I plan to have for my documentary.as I am doing a
documentary about a historical event it will be heavily researched with re-enactments and
archival footage to back up my points.
Participatory documentary itself is a form of film production that directly involves people
and communities in a collaborative and inclusive filmmaking process. Here the process is
of producing the film provides a platform which brings people together to explore issues,
voice concerns, listen to and tell stories.
The filmmaker tends to become the subject of the documentary. Actively engaging with the situation, they are documenting
asking questions and sharing experiences. For example, the: Life of Michael Jackson by Bashir(2004)
The subject of the topic is introduced by a montage of videos of Michael Jackson. A
voiceover of the filmmaker/presenter is used in the background also to introduce the
documentary. There is then one to one talk with the filmmaker and Michael Jackson,
introducing the documentary type to be participatory. Michael Jackson is presented
to be the subject due to having more focus on him, the presenter having a side of
the screen and back towards the audience. Clips of Bashir with Michael Jackson are
shown in his own home in his own personal cinema. This shows how the
documentary is participatory as the presenter is getting involved with the subject
instead of simply speaking about him. Due to this mode of documentary the
presenter can speak to Michael Jackson on a more personal level recording clips of
information which are more personal and emotional.
Michael Jackson Martin Bashir Interview - YouTube
Evaluation
For my documentary I will be in front of the camera for parts and will record all of the
voiceovers however I won't become the subject as the documentary will be heavily focused on
the story of her life and her suspected hauntings ay the Sunderland Empire.
Performative documentary films focus on the filmmakers'
involvement with his or her subject, using his or her personal
experience or relationship with the subject as a jumping-off point
for exploring larger, subjective truths about politics, history, or
groups of people like participatory documentaries.
Performative mode documentaries present an exaggerated version of the
world, society, or event they depict. Nick Broomfield is arguably the most well-
known practitioner of the performative mode/participatory mode documentary
technique. English director Broomfield uses only himself and another
cameraman on set. He also serves as the film’s primary protagonist.
Broomfield’s films are as much about making a documentary as they are about
the main story, offering onscreen reality that is small-scale and seemingly
honest but always entertaining. This is especially true of Aileen Wuornos: The
Selling of a Serial Killer, in which Broomfield includes footage that other
directors would have left on the cutting floor.
Evaluation
This documentary is focused on the story of a ghost therefore has no correlation to me the
filmmaker therefore the documentary won't be classified as a performative documentary.
Evaluation
My documentary will include re-enactments interviews and
voiceovers and will be edited to help engage the audience
therefore my documentary would not be able to be classed
as an observational documentary.
Observational documentaries eschew interviews, voice-over
narration and a soundtrack, and instead present footage of
real life as it unfolds. The effect is a documentary that tends
to show, not tell, and invites each viewer to draw his or her
own conclusions from the film.
1. Objectivity
Observational documentaries try to show objective truth and reality from all
sides, without having a specific opinion on the topic.
The observational mode just observes, without providing any narratives.
This allows the viewers to find their conclusion from the movie.
2. Minimalistic Equipment
The equipment is usually minimalistic, so it is not disturbing the mood.
The smaller equipment is what allowed the development of the observation
documentary. This allows the filmmakers to follow events more naturally.
3. No disruption
There are no interviews and no voiceovers - everything is as if you were
watching events happen in real-time.
The filmmaker is "not" there. Everything should be happening organically.
4. No reenactments
Reenactments defy the basic notion of observation documentary - realism.
Therefore, reenactments or second takes do not exist in authentic
observation films as it would artificially impact the truthfulness the
observational mode wants to show.
5. Long takes
Mostly long takes without cuts are used. Again, this is to create a sense of
reality. The takes are organic, simply following the flow of events.
5 rules of an observational documentary
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Hoop Dreams is a 1994
American documentary film directed
by Steve James. It follows the story of
two African-American high school
students, William Gates and Arthur
Agee, in Chicago and their dream of
becoming
professional basketball players. Hoop
Dreams was originally intended to be a
30-minute short film produced for PBS;
the filming of the special led to five
years of filming and 250 hours of
footage.
Emphasizes the expressive nature of film, anti-realist techniques e.g.,
reenactments, expressive lighting, dramatic music; Voiceover (When present) is
likely to be questioning and uncertain – rather than authoritative; Reliance on
suggestion rather than fact. The reflexive documentary mode focuses on the
relationship between the filmmaker and the audience, pushing viewers to reflect
on their perceptions and re-analyse their notions of truth.
Evaluation
My documentary will include elements of a reflexive documentary such as reenactments and voice overs however is more
informative than making the audience making the audience question their perception of the truth therefore although there will
be elements of a reflexive documentary my documentary will not be classed as this.
Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends (1998)
This series follows documentary filmmaker Louis
Theroux as he travels the world to chronicle his
experiences with “strange” happenings or
interactions with subcultures or people that the
average viewer may not encounter. Extremists of
many faiths, infomercial celebrities, survivalists,
separatists, and even swingers are all represented
in the series. By focusing on these folks, Theroux
hopes to dispel false assumptions about them and
provide a more nuanced understanding of their
worldviews and practices.
Louis Theroux
is a common
face in
documentaries
on the BBC
with a whole
section of 78
documentaries
dedicated to
his work.
True Crime Documentaries
Suzanne
Morphew
Nikki
Allan
The Suzanne Morphew Case: Nothing Is What It
Seems
Bing Videos
Between the space of 0:05 seconds and
0:30 seconds a non-diegetic score is used
to build suspense and establish the
theme of the documentary linking scenes
from medium close-ups to establishing
shots together aided by editing to create
an engaging and dynamic opening
hooking the viewer.
Title Card
The title card sets the tone for the rest of the
piece this title card drains the colour from the
background of the documentary which allows for
the title of the documentary to stand out from the
background. This editing technique links to the
title as audiences would expect it to be in
colour as that is what they are used to but uses
this technique to throw the audience and set the
tone for the rest of the documentary.
Non diegetic score
Throughout the opening
scenes there is a sound
bridge between diegetic and
non-diegetic sound as the
woman above sets the scene
it switches between shots of
her talking to establishing
shots with a voice over
engaging the audience.
The Suzanne Morphew Case:
Nothing Is What It Seems
Establishing Shot
Bing Videos
A common convention of both a
documentary and a short film is shown here.
The usual cinematic shots of a location is
classified as an establishing shot this
confirms for the audience the location of the
documentary/short film and the atmosphere
of the piece.
Non-diegetic Sound
A common convention of documentaries
can be heard here. Throughout the
documentary there is a re-occurring theme
of the use of non-diegetic sound used
where a voice over is used as commentary
over archived footage to explain what is
happening on screen.
The Suzanne Morphew Case:
Nothing Is What It Seems
Bing Videos
Inserts
This is a relatively new technique used in
documentaries where technology is used to
create or animate archived footage not only to
visually explain what is being discussed but in
order to provide a different angle for the
audience and change in scene familiarity this
keeps the engaged in the documentary.
Editing
In the documentary the editing feels very fast paced
and usually cuts at the mention of a location name
or significant detail for example in this scene just as
the name Barry is mentioned it cuts to an image
.This fast-paced editing technique helps to carry the
documentary along preventing the documentary
from dragging for an audience.
The Suzanne Morphew Case:
Nothing Is What It Seems
Bing Videos
A common convention of a documentary can be seen here. Talking heads is a
staple for documentaries and can be recognised easily by the medium close-up
shot, it is also a shallow focus shot meaning that the background has been
blurred this is to focus the attention of the audience on the interviewee and
not distract them from the subject however this is not a stereotypical talking
heads set up as the interviewee is using indirect mode of address where the
interviewee is looking to the side of the camera this may be to focus the
attention of the audience not on the interviewee but the subject they are
discussing whilst still visually engaging the audience.
Another typical convention of a documentary is
shown here the use of archived footage and
photographs can be used to not only visually
show the audience what is being discussed but
evoke emotion from the audience making them
more engaged and invested in the documentary.
Talking Heads Archived Footage
The Suzanne Morphew Case:
Nothing Is What It Seems
Bing Videos
Evidence Reconstruction
In this frame we can see something that is common in the true
crime genre, evidence is vital in not only a case but when used
in documentaries can provide vital information and background
to a case allowing the audience to see actual things used in a
crime as well as feel as though they can start to piece things
together themselves by being shown the evidence.
Something that is less common than talking heads but is
still a convention of documentaries are reconstructions,
these can be used not only to visually show the audience
what is being discussed but can be used as an emotional
tool to connect and engage the audience with the story.
Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland |
ITV News Tyne Tees
Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees - YouTube
A typical convention seen in most documentaries is the use of archived footage this can not only be
used to move the story along but in this case show the audience live reactions when they heard
what happened as well as show the difference in time passing between now and then. Archived
footage can and is often used as an emotive tool to connect the audience to a piece whether it is
moving image footage or in this case a photograph of a newspaper.
Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland |
ITV News Tyne Tees
Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees - YouTube
Reconstructions
A common convention of a documentary can be seen here. Talking heads is a
staple in the documentary and is the most recognisable out of the conventions. In
this frame we can see a clear background as not to distract the audience and is a
medium close-up shot. However, this is not a stereotypical format for talking
heads as the interviewee is using indirect mode of address looking slightly off
camera. This is interesting as even though the interviewee is looking slightly off
camera archived photos are appearing as almost direct mode of address making
the audiences focus drawn to the photos visually and her words audibly.
Something that is less common than talking
heads but is still a convention of documentaries
are reconstructions, these can be used not only
to visually show the audience what is being
discussed but can be used as an emotional tool
to connect and engage the audience with the
story.
Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland |
ITV News Tyne Tees
Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees - YouTube
Non-Diegetic Voice Over
The documentary opens with a non-
diegetic voice over of the reporter speaking
about the case which is a theme that
continues throughout the documentary.
This shows the audience that the person
talking is not as important as the case at
hand and therefore makes you focus on the
case rather than the documentary maker.
Personal Address
During this section of the documentary a documentary theory can be
seen. As the documentary maker is seen here it would be thought
that the documentary would be classed as participatory this can add
a personal touch to the documentary and connect an audience
through direct mode of address. As for this documentary in particular
the documentary maker is from the area of where the crime
happened securing the links in the regional case and securing the
regional audience that may have been lost if a different documentary
maker was chosen.
Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland |
ITV News Tyne Tees
Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees - YouTube
Talking heads features heavily in documentaries, especially in this documentary. This creates a more
personal feel to the documentary as it allows for the audience to hear and see the emotion from the people
directly involved in the case and even though for each shot the mise-en-scene changes slightly the format
remains the same. There is a running colour theme of blue deemed to be a calming colour which could help
the audience and the interviewees feel calmer when discussing the difficult topics. The typical shot set up
for these talking heads interviews are a close-up shot with an eye-level angle where the interviewees are
looking off camera and not directly to camera this creates a sense that there is a conversation happening
between the interviewer and interviewee which the audience are able to view .
THE COMMONS CRIMINAL-BBC Documentary
BBC iPlayer - The Big Cases - The Commons Criminal
Here is a common convention of documentaries an
establishing shot to be seen on screen to set the location
of where the documentary will take place and an
archived phone call played over the top which
implements the truth in the documentary and helps the
audience to understand what is happening on screen.
Establishing Shot Archived phone call Archived Footage
Another typical convention of a documentary is shown here
the use of archived footage and photographs can be used to
not only visually show the audience what is being discussed
but evoke emotion from the audience making them more
engaged and invested in the documentary. As this is also a
news report some people may be able to remember the story
establishing further links to the story and audience response.
THE COMMONS CRIMINAL-BBC Documentary
BBC iPlayer - The Big Cases - The Commons Criminal
Inserts
This is a relatively new technique used
in documentaries where technology is used
to create or animate archived footage not only
to visually explain what is being discussed but
in order to provide a different angle for
the audience and change in scene familiarity
this keeps the engaged in the documentary.
Title Card
A convention you will typically find in every documentary and
what can be seen here is a title card. The title card sets the
precedent for the remainder of the documentary whilst also
securing main themes of the documentary as well as the genre
of the documentary. This can be done by using iconography,
images, wording or colours selected to name a few. This is also
usually the image that the documentary producer wants the
audience to think of when they think of the documentary
created to make an impact on the audience.
THE COMMONS CRIMINAL-BBC Documentary
BBC iPlayer - The Big Cases - The Commons Criminal
Archived Audio
An archived phone call (archived audio) played over the top
implements the truth in the documentary and helps the audience
to understand what is happening on screen allowing the audience
to not only see evidence in the case but hear it as well making
them feel more a part of the story and gain their opinion of what
is happening by being given this extra evidence. It also helps
break up the documentary by including different voices and types
of audio not only is the audience visually engaged but also audibly
engaged in what they are viewing.
Talking Heads
A convention you will typically find in every documentary and what can
be seen here is talking heads. Throughout my research I have found that
talking heads (a medium where typically someone involved in the
story, or a professional would discuss the story from their point of view
found especially in True Crime however is found in most documentary
style products) is a convention that I would argue makes a documentary
what it is, talking heads feature in nearly every if not all
documentary/informative media and is the convention that is found most
regularly which is something I will definitely include in my own product.
Short films
Connect
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpOSIYHxAaE
At the start or equilibrium of the short film we can see the main character seen
above is lonely and isolated especially in this frame where no other people are in
the frame. The theme of loneliness is portrayed in many different ways in the
scene as not only is she alone, but shallow focus is used to signify that she doesn’t
really fit into the world around her aided by bokeh lighting to intensify the feeling
of being an outcast from the rest of the world she lives in. In this scene she is also
off center perhaps suggesting that although she is the main character in the short
film her place in society is not a main role reflected by the camera angles used
making her even more of an outcast.
In this scene sound plays an impactful role in aiding the story
along. The score throughout the short film plays a vital role as it is
a silent film the score reflects the emotions of the character and
tells the audience how she is feeling. In this scene specifically the
technic of a sound bridge has been used to link diegetic and non-
diegetic sound together with no cuts this helps the short film to
flow and matches the style of editing and camera work you seen
on screen.
3:04 / 5:01
RED Connotes-
Red is one of the most complex colours
when looking at what it connotes, it can
connote a range of different feelings and
emotion such as love, danger,
passion, confidence attraction and many
more. It is a colour that can be seen in
many different ways but for this short
film I believe that it connotes attraction
with a sense of wanting to be loved.
Blue connotes-
The character wears a blue
cardigan throughout the short
film symbolising
tranquility, dignity, and
decorum this is a direct
juxtaposition to her
surroundings in the film with
the bus full of people pushing
and rushing to get home. This
could also link back to the
running theme that she feels
isolated from the rest of the
world as everyone is
presented so differently to
her we see this real portrayal
of isolation and separation
between her and the world
she lives in.
White connotes-
Seen in her costume is
elements of white which
connotes purity innocence and
simplicity but also can connote
something darker such as the
feelings of emptiness and
blankness. This could reflect
that these are her thoughts of
the world she lives in but also
how she feels as we know she
is lonely shown to s through
the cinematography of the
scene it could suggest along
with the red used on her
costume that to fill the
emptiness she wants to feel
and have a connection with
someone, so she is not so
alone.
Headphones-
In the scene she is wearing white
retro headphones this further
removes her from the world
created by the filmmaker
suggesting she has different
outlooks or enjoys different
things than everyone else making
her even more of an outcast and
creating the clear on-screen
vision of isolation and the sense
of not belonging .
Colour-
She is the only person presented in bright
colours this reinforces the theme of isolation but
also the theme of change suggesting she could
influence people to change and appreciate every
moment. The rest of the characters are dressed
in dark or muted tones of neutral colours whilst
the main character is in two staple primary
colours this choice in costuming is a further
separation between her and the rest of the
people in the scene reinforcing the theme of
isolation and loneliness.
Isolation-
Isolation is a theme that is
continuous throughout this
short film, and we can see
another visual
representation of it here
with the use of a wide shot
we can see that no one is
around on even near here
again solidifying the isolation
she feels even on a packed
Pulling Apart The Scene
Evaluation
Researching documentaries and short films has
allowed me to develop my knowledge of conventions
of short films and documentaries as well as
understand the reasons behind why they are included.
This research has also allowed me to see that a
documentary doesn’t need to follow the stereotypical
boundaries and conventions and shows that I can
bend the conventions not only from a
stylistic/cinematography point of view but from an
emotive side as well. As my documentary will be
based on a true story not only do I intend to use
archived footage of what it was like for her when she
was alive, but I also intend to have reconstructions
whilst also developing my range of camera angles and
shot sizes in order to make a dynamic and engaging
piece whilst not forgetting to tell her story in an
emotive way that the audience are engaged in the
piece.

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  • 3. Codes and conventions of a documentary Such as any media product documentaries have their own codes and conventions. Documentaries often feature medium close-up shots of an interviewee being interviewed referred to as talking heads. Talking heads is a common feature in documentaries where the interviewee is the focal point against a typically plain background as not to distract the audience. Documentaries often use direct mode of address to connect to an audience by looking directly at the camera however sometimes where applicable indirect mode of address where the subject is looking slightly off camera can be used often to create contrast. Similar to short films and even large-scale productions, cinematic establishing shots are used to set the time and location of the documentary this can also give the audience an insight to the documentary within the first few seconds. Documentaries often included elements similar to a short film such as reenactments these help the audience to visually understand what the documentary is discussing. The three main themes included in documentaries is fact, statistic and opinion all featured in nearly every single documentary as fundamentals to a product. Sound can be used in many different ways in a documentary. Voiceovers can be used to keep an audience engaged and reveal more information to what they are seeing this is determined as synchronous sound with the voiceover matching with what you see on screen, it can also be used as a technic to break up talking heads with footage to keep the audience engaged. If a voiceover isn't used, often non-diegetic sound is layered over footage whether it is a soundtrack or score it can be used to add emotion to a piece or keep the audience engaged without the use of consistent dialogue.
  • 4. Facts, Opinions and Statistics A typical convention of documentaries are facts, opinions and statistics. Facts by definition are statements that can be proven and have evidence to back them up and are vital to not only informative documentaries but every type of documentary. However, opinions are also vital when creating a documentary as it allows people to not only share their view but sometimes share what happened and their truth especially when using the talking heads format this creates a relationship between the people on screen and the audience establishing a personal touch to the documentary as people are allowed to voice their opinions just like you would be able to in a conversation. Statistics provide quantitative and qualitative data that can back up both facts and opinions as well as being impactful on their own.
  • 5. Talking heads Talking heads allows for opinions to be voiced and shared with the audience, often giving the opinion of what the audience has just seen on screen providing an insight into the mind of the people involved. Talking heads usually consists of a medium close-up shot at an eye-level angle however these can vary depending on the type of documentary style. As you can see in the image above talking heads is typically conducted with a direct mode of address to the audience where the interviewee is looking directly into camera with a clean non-distracting background to focus the attention of the audience on the subject. To engage the audience a variation of shots can be included to try and ensure the audience does not get bored when watching this can include Extreme long shot, Long shot. Mid-shot or medium shot. The mid-shot or medium shot generally shows the character from the waist to the top of the head(commonly used as the main shot for talking heads ), Close-up, Extreme close-up, High- angle, Low angle. Cinematography can be used in documentaries to aid in setting the scene and create a relationship with the audience. Camera angles can impact not only the quality of the documentary but the diversity and engagement levels of audiences. Cinematography
  • 6. Katz's and Blumler Uses and Gratifications Theory Blumler and Katz’s Uses and Gratification Theory suggests that media users play an active role in choosing and using the media. Users take an active part in the communication process and are goal oriented in their media use. The theorist say that a media user seeks out a media source that best fulfills the needs of the user. Uses and gratifications assume that the user has alternate choices to satisfy their need. DIVERSION-PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP- PERSONAL IDENTITY -SURVEILLANCE EVALUATION Katz's and Blumler Uses and Gratifications Theory can be applied to documentaries and is something to consider when I am creating my own. The audience may use the documentary as a diversion from everyday life but could also use it as surveillance as they can learn information. Although it is not as apparent as the other two the audience may be able to use the documentary for personal relationships as the documentary will focus on the digital world and social media it may become a talking point among friends satisfying that need of the user. Personal identity may also be recognised here as the user reflects on the impact technology and social media has on their life.
  • 7. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs To better understand what motivates human beings, Maslow proposed that human needs can be organized into a hierarchy. This hierarchy ranges from more concrete needs such as food and water to abstract concepts such as self-fulfillment. According to Maslow, when a lower need is met, the next need on the hierarchy becomes our focus of attention. Evaluation Maslow's hierarchy of needs can be something I can considered when creating my documentary as the modern media can be put in the safety level of needs as people check the news to become aware of their surroundings and safety level. Social media/technology can be associated with love/belonging as it is a way of connecting with friends and family and can be a way of increasing self-esteem confidence and creativity all linking back to the hierarchy of needs.
  • 8. Documentary theories • Bill Nichols’ seminal text Introduction to Documentary (2010) breaks down the documentary into six frequently cited sub-genres or "modes". • “In documentary film and video, we can identify six modes of representation that function something like sub-genres of the documentary film genre itself: poetic, expository, participatory, observational, reflexive, performative. These six modes establish a loose framework of affiliation within which individuals may work; they set up conventions that a given film may adopt; and they provide specific expectations viewers anticipate having fulfilled.”
  • 9. Poetic documentary is a subgenre of documentary filmmaking that uses avant-garde techniques to evoke a certain mood or feeling rather than prove a point through a traditional linear narrative structure. One of the poetic documentaries that I have taken the time to watch was a Channel Five series, called, Extraordinary People. It is about certain people across the world who obtain unique qualities, physically or an extraordinary talent. The shows how the individual lives their everyday life and there is usually a few interviews with the individual, as well as with the friends and family of the person. Evaluation My documentary is a true story and even though it will have elements of a poetic documentary such as a narrative structure when telling the story of her life however it will include facts and the documentary will go on a journey with the audience to try and decipher what happened to her.
  • 10. Expository documentaries include footage that supports and strengthens the spoken argument of the film, including stock footage, archival footage, b-roll, or re-enactments of historical events. Expository documentaries are heavily researched and constructed to inform and persuade. Evaluation An example of an expository documentary is :The Dust Bowl (2012). Ken Burns’ historical account of this disastrous drought during the Great Depression uses photos and facts to supplement the causes and impact of one of the worst droughts to plague North American farmland. This documentary style is similar to the style I plan to have for my documentary.as I am doing a documentary about a historical event it will be heavily researched with re-enactments and archival footage to back up my points.
  • 11. Participatory documentary itself is a form of film production that directly involves people and communities in a collaborative and inclusive filmmaking process. Here the process is of producing the film provides a platform which brings people together to explore issues, voice concerns, listen to and tell stories. The filmmaker tends to become the subject of the documentary. Actively engaging with the situation, they are documenting asking questions and sharing experiences. For example, the: Life of Michael Jackson by Bashir(2004) The subject of the topic is introduced by a montage of videos of Michael Jackson. A voiceover of the filmmaker/presenter is used in the background also to introduce the documentary. There is then one to one talk with the filmmaker and Michael Jackson, introducing the documentary type to be participatory. Michael Jackson is presented to be the subject due to having more focus on him, the presenter having a side of the screen and back towards the audience. Clips of Bashir with Michael Jackson are shown in his own home in his own personal cinema. This shows how the documentary is participatory as the presenter is getting involved with the subject instead of simply speaking about him. Due to this mode of documentary the presenter can speak to Michael Jackson on a more personal level recording clips of information which are more personal and emotional. Michael Jackson Martin Bashir Interview - YouTube Evaluation For my documentary I will be in front of the camera for parts and will record all of the voiceovers however I won't become the subject as the documentary will be heavily focused on the story of her life and her suspected hauntings ay the Sunderland Empire.
  • 12. Performative documentary films focus on the filmmakers' involvement with his or her subject, using his or her personal experience or relationship with the subject as a jumping-off point for exploring larger, subjective truths about politics, history, or groups of people like participatory documentaries. Performative mode documentaries present an exaggerated version of the world, society, or event they depict. Nick Broomfield is arguably the most well- known practitioner of the performative mode/participatory mode documentary technique. English director Broomfield uses only himself and another cameraman on set. He also serves as the film’s primary protagonist. Broomfield’s films are as much about making a documentary as they are about the main story, offering onscreen reality that is small-scale and seemingly honest but always entertaining. This is especially true of Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, in which Broomfield includes footage that other directors would have left on the cutting floor. Evaluation This documentary is focused on the story of a ghost therefore has no correlation to me the filmmaker therefore the documentary won't be classified as a performative documentary.
  • 13. Evaluation My documentary will include re-enactments interviews and voiceovers and will be edited to help engage the audience therefore my documentary would not be able to be classed as an observational documentary. Observational documentaries eschew interviews, voice-over narration and a soundtrack, and instead present footage of real life as it unfolds. The effect is a documentary that tends to show, not tell, and invites each viewer to draw his or her own conclusions from the film. 1. Objectivity Observational documentaries try to show objective truth and reality from all sides, without having a specific opinion on the topic. The observational mode just observes, without providing any narratives. This allows the viewers to find their conclusion from the movie. 2. Minimalistic Equipment The equipment is usually minimalistic, so it is not disturbing the mood. The smaller equipment is what allowed the development of the observation documentary. This allows the filmmakers to follow events more naturally. 3. No disruption There are no interviews and no voiceovers - everything is as if you were watching events happen in real-time. The filmmaker is "not" there. Everything should be happening organically. 4. No reenactments Reenactments defy the basic notion of observation documentary - realism. Therefore, reenactments or second takes do not exist in authentic observation films as it would artificially impact the truthfulness the observational mode wants to show. 5. Long takes Mostly long takes without cuts are used. Again, this is to create a sense of reality. The takes are organic, simply following the flow of events. 5 rules of an observational documentary Hoop Dreams (1994) Hoop Dreams is a 1994 American documentary film directed by Steve James. It follows the story of two African-American high school students, William Gates and Arthur Agee, in Chicago and their dream of becoming professional basketball players. Hoop Dreams was originally intended to be a 30-minute short film produced for PBS; the filming of the special led to five years of filming and 250 hours of footage.
  • 14. Emphasizes the expressive nature of film, anti-realist techniques e.g., reenactments, expressive lighting, dramatic music; Voiceover (When present) is likely to be questioning and uncertain – rather than authoritative; Reliance on suggestion rather than fact. The reflexive documentary mode focuses on the relationship between the filmmaker and the audience, pushing viewers to reflect on their perceptions and re-analyse their notions of truth. Evaluation My documentary will include elements of a reflexive documentary such as reenactments and voice overs however is more informative than making the audience making the audience question their perception of the truth therefore although there will be elements of a reflexive documentary my documentary will not be classed as this. Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends (1998) This series follows documentary filmmaker Louis Theroux as he travels the world to chronicle his experiences with “strange” happenings or interactions with subcultures or people that the average viewer may not encounter. Extremists of many faiths, infomercial celebrities, survivalists, separatists, and even swingers are all represented in the series. By focusing on these folks, Theroux hopes to dispel false assumptions about them and provide a more nuanced understanding of their worldviews and practices. Louis Theroux is a common face in documentaries on the BBC with a whole section of 78 documentaries dedicated to his work.
  • 16. The Suzanne Morphew Case: Nothing Is What It Seems Bing Videos Between the space of 0:05 seconds and 0:30 seconds a non-diegetic score is used to build suspense and establish the theme of the documentary linking scenes from medium close-ups to establishing shots together aided by editing to create an engaging and dynamic opening hooking the viewer. Title Card The title card sets the tone for the rest of the piece this title card drains the colour from the background of the documentary which allows for the title of the documentary to stand out from the background. This editing technique links to the title as audiences would expect it to be in colour as that is what they are used to but uses this technique to throw the audience and set the tone for the rest of the documentary. Non diegetic score Throughout the opening scenes there is a sound bridge between diegetic and non-diegetic sound as the woman above sets the scene it switches between shots of her talking to establishing shots with a voice over engaging the audience.
  • 17. The Suzanne Morphew Case: Nothing Is What It Seems Establishing Shot Bing Videos A common convention of both a documentary and a short film is shown here. The usual cinematic shots of a location is classified as an establishing shot this confirms for the audience the location of the documentary/short film and the atmosphere of the piece. Non-diegetic Sound A common convention of documentaries can be heard here. Throughout the documentary there is a re-occurring theme of the use of non-diegetic sound used where a voice over is used as commentary over archived footage to explain what is happening on screen.
  • 18. The Suzanne Morphew Case: Nothing Is What It Seems Bing Videos Inserts This is a relatively new technique used in documentaries where technology is used to create or animate archived footage not only to visually explain what is being discussed but in order to provide a different angle for the audience and change in scene familiarity this keeps the engaged in the documentary. Editing In the documentary the editing feels very fast paced and usually cuts at the mention of a location name or significant detail for example in this scene just as the name Barry is mentioned it cuts to an image .This fast-paced editing technique helps to carry the documentary along preventing the documentary from dragging for an audience.
  • 19. The Suzanne Morphew Case: Nothing Is What It Seems Bing Videos A common convention of a documentary can be seen here. Talking heads is a staple for documentaries and can be recognised easily by the medium close-up shot, it is also a shallow focus shot meaning that the background has been blurred this is to focus the attention of the audience on the interviewee and not distract them from the subject however this is not a stereotypical talking heads set up as the interviewee is using indirect mode of address where the interviewee is looking to the side of the camera this may be to focus the attention of the audience not on the interviewee but the subject they are discussing whilst still visually engaging the audience. Another typical convention of a documentary is shown here the use of archived footage and photographs can be used to not only visually show the audience what is being discussed but evoke emotion from the audience making them more engaged and invested in the documentary. Talking Heads Archived Footage
  • 20. The Suzanne Morphew Case: Nothing Is What It Seems Bing Videos Evidence Reconstruction In this frame we can see something that is common in the true crime genre, evidence is vital in not only a case but when used in documentaries can provide vital information and background to a case allowing the audience to see actual things used in a crime as well as feel as though they can start to piece things together themselves by being shown the evidence. Something that is less common than talking heads but is still a convention of documentaries are reconstructions, these can be used not only to visually show the audience what is being discussed but can be used as an emotional tool to connect and engage the audience with the story.
  • 21. Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees - YouTube A typical convention seen in most documentaries is the use of archived footage this can not only be used to move the story along but in this case show the audience live reactions when they heard what happened as well as show the difference in time passing between now and then. Archived footage can and is often used as an emotive tool to connect the audience to a piece whether it is moving image footage or in this case a photograph of a newspaper.
  • 22. Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees - YouTube Reconstructions A common convention of a documentary can be seen here. Talking heads is a staple in the documentary and is the most recognisable out of the conventions. In this frame we can see a clear background as not to distract the audience and is a medium close-up shot. However, this is not a stereotypical format for talking heads as the interviewee is using indirect mode of address looking slightly off camera. This is interesting as even though the interviewee is looking slightly off camera archived photos are appearing as almost direct mode of address making the audiences focus drawn to the photos visually and her words audibly. Something that is less common than talking heads but is still a convention of documentaries are reconstructions, these can be used not only to visually show the audience what is being discussed but can be used as an emotional tool to connect and engage the audience with the story.
  • 23. Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees - YouTube Non-Diegetic Voice Over The documentary opens with a non- diegetic voice over of the reporter speaking about the case which is a theme that continues throughout the documentary. This shows the audience that the person talking is not as important as the case at hand and therefore makes you focus on the case rather than the documentary maker. Personal Address During this section of the documentary a documentary theory can be seen. As the documentary maker is seen here it would be thought that the documentary would be classed as participatory this can add a personal touch to the documentary and connect an audience through direct mode of address. As for this documentary in particular the documentary maker is from the area of where the crime happened securing the links in the regional case and securing the regional audience that may have been lost if a different documentary maker was chosen.
  • 24. Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees Nikki Allen: The killing that shook Sunderland | ITV News Tyne Tees - YouTube Talking heads features heavily in documentaries, especially in this documentary. This creates a more personal feel to the documentary as it allows for the audience to hear and see the emotion from the people directly involved in the case and even though for each shot the mise-en-scene changes slightly the format remains the same. There is a running colour theme of blue deemed to be a calming colour which could help the audience and the interviewees feel calmer when discussing the difficult topics. The typical shot set up for these talking heads interviews are a close-up shot with an eye-level angle where the interviewees are looking off camera and not directly to camera this creates a sense that there is a conversation happening between the interviewer and interviewee which the audience are able to view .
  • 25. THE COMMONS CRIMINAL-BBC Documentary BBC iPlayer - The Big Cases - The Commons Criminal Here is a common convention of documentaries an establishing shot to be seen on screen to set the location of where the documentary will take place and an archived phone call played over the top which implements the truth in the documentary and helps the audience to understand what is happening on screen. Establishing Shot Archived phone call Archived Footage Another typical convention of a documentary is shown here the use of archived footage and photographs can be used to not only visually show the audience what is being discussed but evoke emotion from the audience making them more engaged and invested in the documentary. As this is also a news report some people may be able to remember the story establishing further links to the story and audience response.
  • 26. THE COMMONS CRIMINAL-BBC Documentary BBC iPlayer - The Big Cases - The Commons Criminal Inserts This is a relatively new technique used in documentaries where technology is used to create or animate archived footage not only to visually explain what is being discussed but in order to provide a different angle for the audience and change in scene familiarity this keeps the engaged in the documentary. Title Card A convention you will typically find in every documentary and what can be seen here is a title card. The title card sets the precedent for the remainder of the documentary whilst also securing main themes of the documentary as well as the genre of the documentary. This can be done by using iconography, images, wording or colours selected to name a few. This is also usually the image that the documentary producer wants the audience to think of when they think of the documentary created to make an impact on the audience.
  • 27. THE COMMONS CRIMINAL-BBC Documentary BBC iPlayer - The Big Cases - The Commons Criminal Archived Audio An archived phone call (archived audio) played over the top implements the truth in the documentary and helps the audience to understand what is happening on screen allowing the audience to not only see evidence in the case but hear it as well making them feel more a part of the story and gain their opinion of what is happening by being given this extra evidence. It also helps break up the documentary by including different voices and types of audio not only is the audience visually engaged but also audibly engaged in what they are viewing. Talking Heads A convention you will typically find in every documentary and what can be seen here is talking heads. Throughout my research I have found that talking heads (a medium where typically someone involved in the story, or a professional would discuss the story from their point of view found especially in True Crime however is found in most documentary style products) is a convention that I would argue makes a documentary what it is, talking heads feature in nearly every if not all documentary/informative media and is the convention that is found most regularly which is something I will definitely include in my own product.
  • 29. Connect https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpOSIYHxAaE At the start or equilibrium of the short film we can see the main character seen above is lonely and isolated especially in this frame where no other people are in the frame. The theme of loneliness is portrayed in many different ways in the scene as not only is she alone, but shallow focus is used to signify that she doesn’t really fit into the world around her aided by bokeh lighting to intensify the feeling of being an outcast from the rest of the world she lives in. In this scene she is also off center perhaps suggesting that although she is the main character in the short film her place in society is not a main role reflected by the camera angles used making her even more of an outcast.
  • 30. In this scene sound plays an impactful role in aiding the story along. The score throughout the short film plays a vital role as it is a silent film the score reflects the emotions of the character and tells the audience how she is feeling. In this scene specifically the technic of a sound bridge has been used to link diegetic and non- diegetic sound together with no cuts this helps the short film to flow and matches the style of editing and camera work you seen on screen.
  • 31. 3:04 / 5:01 RED Connotes- Red is one of the most complex colours when looking at what it connotes, it can connote a range of different feelings and emotion such as love, danger, passion, confidence attraction and many more. It is a colour that can be seen in many different ways but for this short film I believe that it connotes attraction with a sense of wanting to be loved. Blue connotes- The character wears a blue cardigan throughout the short film symbolising tranquility, dignity, and decorum this is a direct juxtaposition to her surroundings in the film with the bus full of people pushing and rushing to get home. This could also link back to the running theme that she feels isolated from the rest of the world as everyone is presented so differently to her we see this real portrayal of isolation and separation between her and the world she lives in. White connotes- Seen in her costume is elements of white which connotes purity innocence and simplicity but also can connote something darker such as the feelings of emptiness and blankness. This could reflect that these are her thoughts of the world she lives in but also how she feels as we know she is lonely shown to s through the cinematography of the scene it could suggest along with the red used on her costume that to fill the emptiness she wants to feel and have a connection with someone, so she is not so alone. Headphones- In the scene she is wearing white retro headphones this further removes her from the world created by the filmmaker suggesting she has different outlooks or enjoys different things than everyone else making her even more of an outcast and creating the clear on-screen vision of isolation and the sense of not belonging . Colour- She is the only person presented in bright colours this reinforces the theme of isolation but also the theme of change suggesting she could influence people to change and appreciate every moment. The rest of the characters are dressed in dark or muted tones of neutral colours whilst the main character is in two staple primary colours this choice in costuming is a further separation between her and the rest of the people in the scene reinforcing the theme of isolation and loneliness. Isolation- Isolation is a theme that is continuous throughout this short film, and we can see another visual representation of it here with the use of a wide shot we can see that no one is around on even near here again solidifying the isolation she feels even on a packed Pulling Apart The Scene
  • 32. Evaluation Researching documentaries and short films has allowed me to develop my knowledge of conventions of short films and documentaries as well as understand the reasons behind why they are included. This research has also allowed me to see that a documentary doesn’t need to follow the stereotypical boundaries and conventions and shows that I can bend the conventions not only from a stylistic/cinematography point of view but from an emotive side as well. As my documentary will be based on a true story not only do I intend to use archived footage of what it was like for her when she was alive, but I also intend to have reconstructions whilst also developing my range of camera angles and shot sizes in order to make a dynamic and engaging piece whilst not forgetting to tell her story in an emotive way that the audience are engaged in the piece.