week 4 readings

As I have already read (and written) the chapters from Bordwell and Thompson that were listed for this weeks readings I went through and skim read my notes and found the most relevant ones to this course. I’ve written so much on narrative form and structure in the past that I really don’t see any benefit from rehashing that all over again, so instead I decided to focus on the chapters about documentary. The notes I’d written on documentary as a form in itself helps to understand the fundamentals of documentary making before we can then go and challenge this form in making interactive documentaries and other forms which we are engaging with for integrated media.

While documentary typically presents factual information about its subject matter, there are techniques used in documentary making which are ‘staged’. While most events filmed are candid and the opinions presented are verbatim, there is a school within documentary who ‘re-enact’ or recreate events for artistic or visual enhancement. The process of editing a documentary, or choosing which parts of captured footage are presented also, in a way, detracts from this ‘truthfulness’ of the information presented. It is impossible to be entirely objective when capturing a documentary, as obviously the information presented must go through a culling process, and the filmmaker chooses only the material which will further the point they are trying to make. When capturing ‘real life’ such as a person carrying out daily activities, there is some debate as to whether this is real or constructed, as the presence of a camera and a director means that to some degree this ‘daily activity’ has already become altered – if a film maker asks the subject to go about their daily routine, this is still constructed as the subject becomes aware that this is being documented. Observational documentary is different as the film maker does not become involved in the action or instigate action happening, they have no control over the events being presented and merely observe from afar; often the subject does not know that they are being filmed. However, in the editing process some ‘truth’ in observational documentary also becomes subjective. There are many different techniques within documentary which inform genres of documentary – interview style, compilation of archival sources, direct-cinema and nature documentary. A documentary may be organised as a narrative to captivate its audience, using categorical form to form patterns within the information presented and employing formal patterning. Rhetorical form is used when a filmmaker desires to form an argument, and the information is categorised similar to an essay, where the information forms a logical flow in terms of an argument.

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