Participation, collaboration and communication: these were the key ideas which shaped the work we created within this studio. Over the past twelve weeks, this studio has profoundly altered the ways in which we view participatory documentary. Through exposure to various forms of documentary, readings and practises, we gained skills and resources that enabled us to make our own documentaries, focusing on a theme of our choosing. However, each of our documentaries needed to have the common thread of participation. Additionally, we were fortunate enough to receive expert advice through hands-on workshops and discussions, with acclaimed educators and documentarians such as Nick Moore and Amiel Courtin-Wilson. These sessions assisted greatly in solidifying concepts and inspiring our own documentary making processes.
Furthermore, the participatory mode can be described as “the filmmaker interact[ing] with his or her social actors” and thereby also “participat[ing] in shaping what happens before the camera” (Nichols, 1991). In order to achieve this, we had to refine our interviewing skills and be quite discerning about the types of questions we were asking our subjects. Moreover, we discussed a large range of interviewing practises within several of our classes as this is a key aspect of the participatory genre. One particularly prominent concept we debated was Errol Morris’ view that, if you simply “let people talk” they will inevitably reveal to you “who they truly are” (Morris, 2008). Through the making of our documentaries, we were able to explore this concept further and gather real insight into the lives and stories of other human beings. In this way, Go Out Into the World and Do Great Things has illuminated the necessity of creating and collaborating with others, as opposed to simply asserting total authorial control when making documentary film.
- Nichols, Bill. ‘Issues and Concepts in Documentary’ in Representing Reality, USA, Indiana University Press, 1991, p1-24.
- 60 Minutes: Errol Morris, 60 Minutes, television programme, Channel Nine, Australia, 12th May 2008