Tag Archives: Documentary

Nov 12 Documentary History/Modes

Several folks began shooting and interviewing recently.  Are there any suggestions about things that worked and things that didn’t?  Where is everyone in the process?

History of Documentary

It is impossible to come up with a screening list that gives an overview of the history of documentary film, but I feel obliged to try.  By no means is this list exhaustive, in fact it represents a very narrow swath of my own personal preferences and influences.  I encourage you to build up an archive of your own preferences and influences.  Spend some time with the ‘Documentary’ sections on Netflix, Youtube, and Hulu Plus and at Thomas Cooper.  As we have discussed, articulating the genesis of ideas in filmmaking is a difficult endeavor.  Having some comparison material can be incredibly useful when composing your reflection ‘essay’.  Include the films you see in your Works Cited page!  Before we begin screening clips today, start a blog post entitled “Screening Notes Nov 12”.  Spend a few minutes after screening to write down some thoughts about each clip.  Here are some questions to guide your note taking:

Describe the production value (how does it look/sound…professional or not).  Are there interviews, is action ‘real’ or reenacted?

How many cameras are being used?  Where are they placed?  How are they stabilized? Where is the light coming from?  Is there archival footage?  Graphics?

Where is the sound coming from?  Is it diagetic (occurring in the scene) or not?  Is there music?  What effect does it have?  Is there a voice over?  Voice of God?

Where are the edits made? What is the framing?  What is being used for B-Roll?  What impact does the B-Roll have?

How ‘truthful’ is it?  Do you understand what is going on?  What is the point? (This obviously requires some conjecture on your part).

How did it make you feel?

What modes could describe it?

Dziga Vertov Man with a Movie Camera 1929 (Netflix)

Frank Capra Why We Fight 1942

Trinh T. Minh-ha Reassemblage 1983 (Library)

Godfrey Reggio Powaqqatsi 1988

Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin Chronicle of a Summer 1960 (Hulu Plus)

Allen King Warrendale 1967 (Hulu Plus)

Frontline PBS

Jean-Pierre Gorin My Crasy Life 1992 (Hulu Plus)

Terry Zwigoff Louie Bluie 1985 (Hulu Plus)

Morgan Spurlock Super Size Me 2004 (Hulu free)

BLOG POST (start a new post)

Keeping in mind that all ‘non-fiction’ films exist as a combination of genres and influences, which of Nichols’ modes do you find yourself MOST interested in/drawn to?  Which mode is most effective for telling a “TRUE” story?  Using the terminology of Nichols and the models we’ve discussed today, spend some time describing your thoughts on the shape of your object documentary right now.  You don’t need to be comprehensive at this point, but list several scenes you plan on composing and give some production details (what kind of camera, how will you stabilize it, how will you record sound, whom will you interview and where, how will you store your data, what colors/fonts will you use, what music will you use, describe any archival material you have/would like to find, etc).

For next time:

GATHER media for your final project and BRING it with you, along with some idea of a direction to begin your editing.  If you have already begun editing, make sure to bring ALL the relevant project files.  If you haven’t already, take some test footage with the camera to which you have access so you can have an idea of the aesthetic  (visual and audio) that you have available.

Some extra links:

I post these as supplemental material for use in your reflection or for your Third Response.

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