The 1964 short film, ‘From a Distant Glaze’ (directed by Jean Ravel, picture by Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme, words by Louis Aragon, narrated by Jean Negroni and music by Michel Legrand) observes publics going about their general business in a busy, city environment.
The opening scene establishes an observational feel to the film with extreme close ups and close up camera shots amongst bustling streets. The camera intimately follows subjects through these congested, urban spaces. Narration enters shortly into the film – giving the camera technique substance and provides the film with an existential notion. We then know that it is the narrator’s observation and that he is focusing on individuals in the street. Effectively, the voice over foreshadows what is to be seen and determines the film’s theme.
The camerawork used throughout the film directs the viewer to certain items or a particular person seen on the street through swift camera movements. The camera technique used to do this is often a pan across, a pan upward or an extreme close up. Ultimately, the camera technique is important to the overall film as it gives the film an observation touch as well as insight into what the film is about.
There are keyboard shortcuts for Adobe’s Premier for almost every editing function. I am forever learning and reciting them, however here is some useful shortcut commands that I’ll be sure to employ when it comes to editing our documentary.
By linking our audio and video clips, they will become locked together. This may come in handy when editing our documentary to assure the audio remains with its partnered footage on the timeline. This will be suitable when the film’s subjects are being interviewed and the audio is required to stay with the footage. The keyboard command for this is Ctrl+l
Grouping clips assists the editing process when you want to move or delete a whole grouped section. To do this select Ctrl+g
The keyboard commands for zooming in and out will be useful quite often. We will be doing this a fair bit, as sometimes you need to zoom in to view an element on your timeline. Zooming in also helps you edit more precisely and can prevent overlooking items. Additionally, zooming out helps you get a broader perspective of what’s compiled on your timeline. The keyboard shortcut for these are: Zoom In = and Zoom Out –
When exploring a new editing tactic, we may want to disable a clip while investigating a new approach. Disabling a clip means that it will not appear in your film when you export it. Ultimately, we may also want to enable the clip. To do this, select Shift+E on your keyboard.
Abode Premier also has a list of keyboard shortcuts on their website, I will be viewing this quite often over the coming weeks.
The audio utilized and applied in the excerpt provided from Anna Broinowski’s 2007 exploratory documentary titled Forbidden Lies, features a music track, sound effects, sounds recorded with a boom and a mixer whist capturing the footage along with additional sounds that were potentially recorded and applied to the documentary. The film also comprises of editing techniques, such as an audio lead or in editing terms, a ‘J cut’, layering audio tracks as well as muting audio footage to enhance the sound that is layered over the footage.
The first scene shown in the excerpt has applied non-diegetic sound, making the scene feel like a bit of a dreamscape (perhaps how Broinowski feel’s about the book under question). To assist this approach, a music track plays across the footage while the original sound of the footage has been muted. The sound affects of birds chirping occur as well as a dazzling sound, which is combined with a swirl transition into the next scene. The sound affects are nothing particularly fancy and could most likely be sourced online and are often available for free from sound affects websites.
Particular sounds have been recorded perhaps with a zoom recorder or sourced from established sound affects to draw attention to elements within the documentary that assist the narrative. These sounds are applied to be focal sounds and are used for the instances of car wheels on a dirt road, a burka being thrown and taken away by the wind and footsteps trekking through a windy desert.
Screen shot taken from Forbidden Lies
The editing techniques employed and sourced for the documentary perhaps draw the audience’s attention to the fantastical nature of Forbidden Lies as well as take the audience back into reality. At the end of the opening scene, a woman is walking through a windy desert when the sound of Broinowski slamming the subject’s book down on a table is layered with the footage. The sound of the book being slammed is immediately followed by a sound affect of what appears to be sand being broken down (or maybe foreseeing what is to ecome of the subject in question). There are a couple of ways to achieve this in the editing process, however the most logical way that I can think of is applying a J cut, layering the sound affect and lowering the J track’s volume to allow for the sound affect to be of focus. A J cut is often used as an editing tactic to assist with the transitions between scenes however in this instance, the sound of a book slamming as well as the chosen sound affect grabs the viewers attention and perhaps snaps them out of the dream-like introduction and into the theme of the documentary.
The week four reading by Paul Ward titled ‘Fiction and non-fiction: the great divide?’ was highly insightful with our documentary fast approaching. The article tells that one of the most interesting aspects about studying the documentary field is the taxonomy of fiction, documentary and nonfiction and the difference as well as similarities between the genres (pg. 31).
Often a controversial topic, the article speaks of the blurred differences between fiction and documentary, or what Bill Nichols depicts as ‘blurred boundaries’. The article aims to deconstruct the modes of both documentary and fiction and the distinguishing factors that categorically place them into their defining genre. In doing so, the article looks over the supposedly separate factors of both film types however investigates overlapping similarities within the genres.
Interestingly the article speaks of a new wave of hybrid genres between documentary, drama and non-fiction that further blurs the distinctions. Giving the subject some consideration, I would consider a documentary film to be perceived by its viewers as truthful. However, various filmmakers have previously pushed these perimeters and have tested an audience’s perception of documentary films. One notably shocking example of this is the mocumentary True Lies, where the main protagonist told a story about being raped, however the film’s credits showed that the film was not based on real events. Despite the film’s shocking affect on it’s viewer when they discovered that the film was not an actuality, True Lies proved to be an exemplifier that documentaries are often perceived to be factual despite the potential for filmmakers to make rhetoric or bias documentary. Notably, the emerging hybrid genres further complicate the defining elements of the mentioned genres along with the audience’s notion of documentaries being based on actualities (34).
The 2009 Documentary titled ‘Us Now’ delves into mass online collaboration as well as power of online participation. What was most thought provoking to me was the magnitude of participants that contribute to certain online platforms. What drives hundred of thousands of people to contribute to a website such as Wikipedia? I have often considered what publics get out of it and why they have dedicated their time and knowledge to a public domain. Don’t get me wrong, Wikipedia (and many other participatory based websites) are exceptional tools that in their own unique way have prevailed traditional public services, however I wonder what motivates these publics to be a part of these platforms.
Perhaps I have already come across the answer as to why publics contribute to online platforms, to be a part of something. The documentary suggests a motivation for such contribution – telling that the general public has something to give back, to contribute. That may very well be a part of it although I’d go further with that and say that by contributing they may gain a sense of self-validation or a feeling of unity. However, I perceive that perhaps a motivator for the ‘general public’ to contribute to online spaces is the prospect of being a part of (there’s that phrase again) a broader public. One that their area of expertise may not reach in their everyday lives. Perhaps with sharing their knowledge, interests and experiences with an online platform they may feel a sense of being a part of a larger community.
One aspect of online participation that predominated throughout the documentary was that the quality and reliability of certain participation-based sites could be qualified through the number of participants involved. Whilst there is always going to be a concern for your safety when you meet people online, quantity is quality assured… or at least more reliable. The documentary discusses certain mechanisms and practices that are put into place to make some online platforms more trustworthy. A lot of contemporary platforms are highly reliant on the ‘reputation system’. This can be seen on sites such as EBay and couchsurfing.com where reviews and ratings are placed by people who engage with other users of the sites. Additionally, a mother that is an avid user of mumternet.com (a online space where mothers share their experiences and knowledge) told that when sourcing information on sites where publics give advice, she determined information reliable by the number of users who say the same thing. For example, if one user provides advice about something but various other users disagree, then you probably shouldn’t take the minorities advice. It goes to say that the method of determining information or a user reliable abides by formal as well as informal practices.
Bernard Curran’s article titled ‘Documentary Storytelling for Film and Videomakers’ provides insight as to the considerations of planning of producing a documentary. Curran told how it is important to take a step back and to consider whether the documentary’s story is something that audiences would actually want to view (27). Interestingly, Curran told that a documentary that transports viewers into experiences beyond their own means or presents observations outside of their attainment is more likely to be well received (31). Additionally, Curran spoke of the importance of building relationships and gaining trust with your subjects. This reminded me of the strong and sometimes obscure bonds that the filmmaker, Louis Theroux forms with his subjects – as below.
The student documentary titled End of the Line, also known as ‘the Broken Hill film’ features long-term locals expressing their passion and life-long loyalty for the rural town. In doing this, the film presents some striking views of small town mentality. Particular from an elderly woman who obsessively voiced her desire for death as well as connecting her supposed near death with the town whilst conveying a sense of religious harmony.
I’m unsure if the filmmakers achieved what they originally intended to do. I’d like to think that no documentary filmmakers could presuppose precisely the type of film their going to end up with as it often dependent on the subjects or often things are discovered in the process of making the film. I do perceive that the filmmakers remained in line with their original concept however the subjects and the brutality of the town itself perhaps revealed certain views as well as a sense of reality to the filmmakers.
Perception of Social Media
The documentary, ‘Generation Like’ by 4 Corners, gave me perspective as to how social media platforms are largely utilised by consumer-based corporations as a market research tool and ultimately, are a commodity. Additionally, the documentary gave light as to the significance of ‘likes’, ‘retweets’ etc… and spoke of them as a type of new world currency. Before viewing the documentary, I was unaware that Google owned YouTube, however it isn’t surprising considering Google is the biggest online player in the world.
Generation Like and the role of a Social Media Producer?
The documentary spoke about self-promotion and in this instance, for upcoming teenage artists and adolescent online celebrities. The teen celebs were primarily promoting themselves through posting videos on YouTube in order to gain exposure and popularity. I’d envision that the role of social media producer would also create videos as promotional tool, depending on the client they are representing. What prevails most though, is the dependency and importance of a lot of likes and viewers – to an unspecified magnitude. After all who ever has enough likes and views, right?
Participatory engagement and our upcoming event?
The event idea is very much still in the research and idea-generating stages. However, the documentary showed how online videos assist in engaging an audience, getting exposure and developing an audience. However, it is notable that gaining a large audience from a platform such as YouTube is an ongoing process and one that grows overtime. Due to the time restrictions with the event our group will be putting on, it will be important to use online platforms as early on as possible and to keep consistent engagement.
Brian Hill’s documentary, ‘Drinking for England’ concocts drinking scenarios where characters with alcoholic attributes portray scenes of alcohol abuse in their every day lives. As a viewer, I find that a documentary that is acted out doesn’t uphold the same veracity as if a filmmaker where to document real life footage. Additionally, I also felt that the poetry aspect of the film also took some integrity away from the documentary’s form. Furthermore, it was hard to decipher if all of the interviews conducted in the documentary were from actual characters or if the roles were scripted. I tend to think that a documentary that is scripted could be somewhat rhetoric, however in this instance, there is undoubtedly truth within the subject matter of alcoholism as well as an alcohol culture within England.
With documentary films being a passion and great interest of mine, I hope to become educated in the processes and practices of documentary filmmaking. In doing so, I will hopefully be able to further explore the avenues of producing documentary films outside of this subject. Additionally, I hope to gain knowledge on the creative approaches of documentary filmmaking, particularly on controversial subjects that may be hard to approach. I would also like to think that at the end of this subject, I would have ideas of how to incorporate filmmaking with other aspects of my course such as interactive online media.