© 2014 ellathompson


Select from one of the readings and briefly describe two points that you have taken from it. Points that excite you, something that was completely new to you. 

Reading: Tobias, M. (ed.). The search for reality : the art of documentary filmmaking, (p. 43-50). CA: Michael Wiese Productions, 1998.

Leacock points out that today’s advanced camera and sound technology may not be all that beneficial to capturing spontaneity – it has birthed an even more “ridiculous” and disruptive routine designed to remove all potential for organic material. Contrived settings. Interruptions for technical adjustments. Instructions on how to position self. When to speak. How to ‘act natural’. Lots of people in one space at one time, running around and contriving a situation to try to garner material that resembles that thing called ‘reality’. Rather than yielding footage that actually observes the subjects, the result is footage that observes how the subjects respond to these disruptions.

One other thing that struck me in this reading is Leacock’s point that people will try to “help you get what they think you want to get” in order to get rid of you. Even I have felt this when making films – e.g. the Broadcast Media doco. What’s worse is how easy it is to let people help you. Especially when you are new to it all and uncomfortable and keen to speed up the process (i.e. interview process or something). I guess the trick is not to let them help you. And that probably takes a lot of willpower. And practice. And focus. It’s the same as a psychology experiment – participants will try to guess your hypothesis and give you what responses they think you want. And most people will accept these responses because it’s so easy to. It’s an art to get underneath all of the attempted mind-reading and lazy answers and reach the real bits. It’d take a lot of effort.


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