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Expository Documentary
Most TV documentaries follow the expository
model. This type of documentary has often been
criticis...
Observational Documentary
The filmmaker producing the observational
documentary should (in theory) record the action
and p...
Interactive Documentary
The filmmaker becomes the star in the interactive
documentary, and we often see or hear them. They...
Reflexive Documentary
The reflexive documentary plays with the
conventions of all of the previous types. The
filmmaker wil...
Poetic Documentary
Codes emphasise visual associations, tonal or
rhythmic qualities, descriptive passages, and
favours moo...
Performative Documentary
Where the interactive mode engages the filmmaker
to the story but attempts to constructs truths,
...
Expository Observational
Interactive Reflexive
Poetic Performative
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4types

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4types

  1. 1. Expository Documentary Most TV documentaries follow the expository model. This type of documentary has often been criticised because of the deliberate way it tries to influence the audience. ‘Voice of God commentary and poetic perspectives sought to disclose information about the historical world itself and to see that world afresh, even if these views came to seem romantic and didactic’ (Nichols, 1991, p.32-33) Uses voice-over and have straight forward show and tell structure (with graphics, interviews, footage) where the viewer is guided through the material. E.g. Hoop Dreams (James et al, 1994), Spellbound (Blitz, 2003) NEGATIVE: OVERLY DIDACTIC
  2. 2. Observational Documentary The filmmaker producing the observational documentary should (in theory) record the action and package it for the audience without letting his own opinions influence the decisions made in post-production. ‘… to record unobtrusively what people did when they were not explicitly addressing the camera… but it limited the filmmaker to the present moment and required disciplined detachment from the events themselves’ (Grierson) The filmmaker takes a step back from the material and takes a ‘neutral’ stance on the subject matter. However, this could open up debates about selection of material, lack of voice over and editing devices. E.g. Être et Avoir (Philibert, 2002) Sleep Furiously (Gideon Koppel, 2008) NEGATIVE: LACKS HISTORICAL CONTEXT
  3. 3. Interactive Documentary The filmmaker becomes the star in the interactive documentary, and we often see or hear them. They actively engage with the material. There is no attempt to hide personal perspectives, and the opinion of the filmmaker will often be clear from the beginning of the film. ‘Interactive documentary arose from the desire to make the filmmaker’s perspective more evident. Interview styles and interventionist tactics arose, allowing the filmmaker to participate more actively in the events’ E.g. Nick Broomfield, Michael Moore, Morgan Spurlock. Some overlap with other modes, e.g. Performative, NEGATIVE: EXCESSIVE FAITH IN HISTORY, TOO INTRUSIVE
  4. 4. Reflexive Documentary The reflexive documentary plays with the conventions of all of the previous types. The filmmaker will not attempt to push a particular position on the audience, but draw attention to the devices used in the documentary. ‘Reflexive documentary arose from the desire to make the conventions of representations themselves more apparent and challenge the impression of reality which the other three models normally conveyed unproblematically’ This mode raises interesting points about objectivity, techniques, realism and ‘truth’. There seems to be a personal ‘voice’ emerging from these films. E.g. Capturing the Friedmans (Jarecki, 2005), Touching the Void (McDonald, 2002), Joy Division (Grant Gee, 2008) NEGATIVE: TOO ABSTRACT, LOSES SIGHT OF ACTUAL ISSUES
  5. 5. Poetic Documentary Codes emphasise visual associations, tonal or rhythmic qualities, descriptive passages, and favours mood, tone and texture. Art or avant- garde are good examples. Uses associative editing to create mood or tone without making an explicit arguments about a subject. E.g. Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia (1938) presents a glorified view of (Aryan) athletes during the 1936 Olympic Games Robert Flaherty's Man of Aran (1934) - dramatic framing of material presents mythic image of man in harmony with nature NEGATIVE: LACK OF SPECIFICS The poetic mode of documentary moves away from the "objective" reality of a given situation or people to grasp at an inner "truth" that can only be grasped by poetical manipulation.
  6. 6. Performative Documentary Where the interactive mode engages the filmmaker to the story but attempts to constructs truths, the performative mode engages the filmmaker to the story but constructs subjective truths that are significant to the filmmaker him or herself. Deeply personal, the performative mode is particularly well- suited to telling the stories of filmmakers from marginalized social groups, offering the chance to air unique perspectives without having to argue the validity of their experiences. May "mix" elements of various documentary modes to achieve link between subjective knowledge/understanding of the world, and more general understandings, i.e. historical ones e.g. Night and Fog (haunting personal commentary as well as expository, it’s a film about memory.) NEGATIVE: TOO SUBJECTIVE
  7. 7. Expository Observational Interactive Reflexive Poetic Performative

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