The Art of Documentary

This is abit silly and I might ramble a bit, but I’m interested in how documentary makers manipulate the truth, and more importantly, why?

I took this from Megan Cunningham’s documentary, The Art of Documentary, the conversation with Haskell Wexler.

He states that he manipulates the truth in every element of film making, and that once something is filmed it is o longer reality, it is the “filmmaker’s reality.”

I wonder how one could film true reality, and all I could think of was undetectable cameras placed in random locations shooting constantly with no editing. But who would want to watch that? So what is the point in documenting reality? We manipulate it to make it more interesting, or to create context. Documentaries generally focus on something, so the documentary for example might focus on reality in the context of survivors of WWI, or would it focus on survivors of WWI in the context of reality? Super confusing. But my point is that documentaries don’t necessarily portray reality as it is. Reality is boring and we get enough of it. If I were to make a documentary on supermarkets, why watch a film of people in a supermarket when you can go there and experience the real thing? If I were going to make a documentary about supermarkets I would talk to people and find interesting elements and focus on those to create some kind of story worth experiencing. This would document real things that happen, but selectively, only showing some parts and not showing others.

I think the shots that get tossed is the more realistic footage, as it would be the boring stuff that we already know, that we don’t need to see again, that’s reality. And I’d be interested in seeing that, but then I wouldn’t because it wouldn’t be interesting. I think this would really just show us that in reality, when we’re not doing interesting things (and we can’t be all the time) all people are the same and therefore quite boring.

That’s kinda poetic though, something could probably be done with it. I’d love to one day collect off cuts from documentaries, see what got scrapped, and choose the most boring of all of it, and use that to make something.

From a distant gaze

Points taken:

  • Got’ta get me one of those cool strollers
  • Everything sounds better/more artistic in French
  • Everything looks more artistic/contemplative/deep in black and white
  • I can make a beautiful short film with “found” footage, that is footage of real things that isn’t staged, and my own voice
  • Documentary can be creative and poetic
  • People are weird and the face tells all and nothing
  • The work is nice and I get it, but it’s kind of boring
  • The chaotic cuts match well with the music that they’ve chosen, nice. I’ll take my tempo and rhythm of cuts into consideration when choosing music now
  • I like the observational style of shooting, I feel as if I were really on that street, particularly when the camera follows a particular person from a distance. Super creepy though.
  • Beautiful women always get the most attention and men are stupid because they give the beautiful women the most attention

Shortcuts in Premiere

Duplicate – Shift Cmd /

I’ve always just right hand clicked, this will save me a lot of time as I use this a lot in duplicating sequences and clips.

Render effects – Return

I have never rendered my effects in a clip before, I will now do this after using effects like Warp Stabiliser

Increase audio track’s height – Opt+ =

I’ve always clicked and expanded the audio channel like an idiot and dragged it up, it’s a pain in the ass. Never doing that again if I want the whole track lifted.

Slip tool – Y

Here I was using my mouse to click the side bar like an idiot.


Audio in Forbidden Lies

The audio makes use of dialogue, SFX and music, in order to create a humorous contrast between the obviously false fiction of the book, and the truth as the journalist uncovers more and more lies.

The music at the beginning of the clip us used to emulate the ridiculousness of the love-story, and creates a dreamlike scenario. SFX are used in the transition from the dreamlike fantasty into reality, as a humorous quip, again poking fun at the ridiculousness of the ficticious story in ‘Forbidden Love’.

These special effects are used again in the documentary each time the journalist uncovers another false fact from the book, and is like a recurring theme reflecting the fantastical sounds of dramatical love stories as the SFX are reminiscient of the sound effects you’d hear in typical modern TV soap operas, particularly in non-western countries.

The dialogue was recorded in interviews and is obviously quite formal, set up and the diologue has had an element of preparation. In the scene where the journalist’s reading of the book overlaps the author reading the same lines, the journalist was obviously asked to read out that part. It again creates a contrast between the fantastical way in which the author portrays the book and the funny way in which the journalist regards it as bullshit.