Week One


This explained all the different types of documentary styles so we are aware of what style to shoot our own documentary. These include the poetic mode, expository mode, observational mode, participatory mode, reflexive mode, performative mode and political reflexivity. This does not necessarily mean that a documentary can not be a hybrid of two or three of these modes as a documentary such as "Biggie and Tupac" by Nick Broomfield is a combination of expository mode with the use of narration and voice of god technique and participatory mode since Nick Broomfield himself gets heavily involved in the documentary. 

Poetic Mode - Having researched and looked into all types of modes, I decided the best way to fully understand each mode is to watch different documentaries that are created in each style. The poetic mode which is associated with early documentary forms such as the 1920s and usually leans towards subjective interpretations of its subject and make the audience gain an inner truth that can only be done by poetic manipulation. They tend to use visual language in passages that create mood, tone and texture to the documentary. It uses a lyrical almost cinematic narrative rather than a documentary like the other modes that are there to inform the audience of a certain issue or something else.

A good example of an early poetic style documentary is Joris Iven's "Regen" (Rain) which is a Netherlands film made in 1929 shooting a summer shower in Amsterdam. This simple documentary films lasting just under 15 minutes long documents a rain shower in such a strikingly beautiful way showing a wide variety of shots like the puddles and showing rains impact on the environment while also showing the impact it has on peoples everyday life. Such as shots with a crowd carrying umbrellas or shutting windows, birds flying away and cats trying to find shelter. All of this is done with a simple guitar played throughout the whole documentary with the beautiful shots to create a charming documentary. After watching this documentary, I can really understand that the poetic mode documentary form does not necessarily have to document an issue but can be something as simple as a rainy day creating a narrative for the audience in an artistic viewing. This mode does not interest me when we make our documentary as I prefer to concentrate on an issue or something that would interest the audience.

Expository Mode - This documentary mode is something that I would be more interested in making as it uses a voice of god technique where the authoritative voice (usually the director) which speaks directly to the viewer and usually contains an objective view and offers an argument. Normally with this mode, the voice would provide an arguent which could tend to lean towards bias and the images are there to support the argument. While this is usually the case, it is not necessarily always true as sometimes the voice is just there to carry the documentary on and explain where they are going or what is happening. But if there is no argument that the narrator is providing, then is there any need to use this mode at all? I am very familiar with this style of documentary as it a very common and current style of documentary. I have also created a documentary called "Homeless In Winchester" which uses the expository mode and we managed to create arguments with it but tried to create a balanced documentary with both oppositions and the people that are trying to do something about it. Therefore, I think this mode could create a bias but also create a balanced documentary. 

A good example of this mode is John Berger's "The Ways of Seeing" which concentrates on art and paintings and how the audience can be manipulated by the current media by music played over or a cropped image, etc. This documentary includes pieces to camera as well as a voiceover constantly interacting with the viewer. Therefore, the viewer is engaged with the documentary and feels involved as Berger informs us with this information. The reason this works so well is because Berger has a voice that sounds authoritative and the audience can trust what he says even though right at the end of the first episode, he states what he says is merely his view and that the audience should remain skeptical about the information and trust their own techniques. As mentioned before, this would be a documentary mode that I would be interested in making as the voice of god technique is something that the modern audience is familiar with.

Observational Mode - This mode became popular in the 1960s in the wake of the technological advances in that period of time where the cameras got smaller and allowed the cameras to be smaller and therefore less intrusive and could just be there observing the natural turn of events that occur rather than having people changing and reacting due to the presence of the camera. It allowed a smaller team to shoot the documentary and capture things quicker rather than setting up interviews and so on. This mode tends to allow the audience to gather their own interpretation of the event and their own conclusion due to the documentary just observing rather than being subjective or bias. Usually these documentaries contain no interviews, music or arrangements but instead just observe something or a subject sometimes using the 'fly on the wall' technique where the camera is there but is forgotten about. They aimed at intimacy with the subject and the revelation of their normal characterisation in ordinary life situations. Popular subjects are celebrities of some kind or maybe an important person in culture. 

'Don't Look Back' by Donn Pennebaker which is an observational mode documentary follows Bob Dylan as he tours and goes to England to play a gig in the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC. While having a brief history into the person himself showing how he started out by showing an archived clip when he was young, it completely follows the life of an extraordinary person in his ordinary world. The director never gets involved or asks any questions, there is no music (apart from when Dylan himself is playing at a gig or general) and no props or settings already set up. Everything is natural (apart from the editing of what the director chooses goes into the documentary and does not) so the audience literally feel as if they observing how this man lives and showing almost backstage footage of the man himself. The editing is done very well as they show important and interesting things about Bob Dylan including disagreements with fans or arguments. Dylan practising songs or writing songs to see how the process goes to making his music. His relationship with his close friends, manager and indeed his fans. His views on certain issues, negative press towards him and other famous artists at that time (such as Donavon). These are all very interesting things to finding out who Bob Dylan is actually as a person rather than an artist and the audience learn so much about him when you just step back and observe his life rather than intrude in it like many journalists shown in this documentary. This is a mode of documentary that I would be very interested in our idea if the idea suits that style such as following a certain person or group of people to see how they live. 

Participatory Mode - Another very popular documentary style where usually the director gets involved and becomes one of the main focuses of the documentary even though they are usually observing the subject and pushing them for answers. The focus becomes more about how the subject reacts to the director being there and how they are influenced and the situation is altered. So rather than observing, narrating or using poetic language, they become directly involved in the documentary and the relationship between the director and the subject becomes essential to the success of the documentary. While this relationship and the full truth between the encounter are positives to gain from this although the documentary becomes heavily biased with how the director manipulates it directly and the subject is affected by the directors presence. 

The documentary example I looked at was Louis Theroux 'The Most Hated Family In America'. Personally, I really like Louis Theroux's documentaries as he documents really interesting and current issues. As with all his documentaries and particularly this one, he gets involved heavily into the production aspect as well as the on film process. He is usually always on the camera interacting with the subjects so the audience is then not only interested in the subject but how Louis reacts to them and the situation and how he pushes them for answers. One of the most useful techniques that come with this documentary mode and showcased in this documentary is how the subject reacts towards Louis being there and offering his own opinion. Louis could not have a more different view to the family and the documentary instead of showing us the views of this family and the ideology they live by, it seems to mock their way of living. We as an audience are angry at this family and their views and while I do not agree with the families ideologies, the documentary makes us feel that way on purpose. It manipulates the way we think and that is a definite advantage to participatory mode if you want the audience to feel this way. 

Reflexive Mode - This mode is an unusual mode of documentary film making and concentrates more on the structure of itself and the fact they are actual representations. These documentaries makes the audience question the authenticity of documentaries in general and to not just accept them at face value. They purposely show images and things to challenge the norm to question what the audience would perceive.

Bunuels "Land Without Bread" was a very interesting documentary looking at a land which was poverty stricken and Bunuel himself was very driven when it came to making documentaries about issues that he thought needed to be raised. But this documentary is very unusual, it contains fantastic shot and shot techniques that you would normally associate with a reflexive mode documentary. It even contains a voice of god over the top of the images but its the manipulation of the documentary film itself in an almost parody way that makes this documentary truly interesting. This documentary deals with very serious issues and a common and dominant theme is 'death' and not just with the inhabitants of Las Hurdes, but with the animals that are shown dying. The intense and almost personal camera work towards ill, diseased people and corpses juxtaposed directly with the monotone voiceover. It is like the voice does not really care and does not create an emotional link to what we as an audience are seeing. Its disturbing to say the least and really makes us view this and think before we accept it face value. It creates quizzical thoughts as to the authenticity of the piece. This is a very interesting documentary style and something that really could influence me but I also see this as one of the most difficult documentary modes to pull off.

Performative Mode - This mode of documentary concentrates on the personal emotional in a subjective way. They tend to be strongly personal, unconventional and sometimes experimental. They sometimes contain re-enactments of events just to make the audience aware of what it was like to be in that situation in that period of time while also putting us into the perspective of someone else. Performative documentaries also link up personal experiences with historical or political realities.

Alain Resnais "Night and Fog" is the example I chose to look into for this mode and this documentary blends together a selection of stills, own footage and archived footage to create a truly wonderful documentary about the holocaust. We already are shown the personal emotions straight away as the narrator was a survivor from the camps himself. This puts us into the mind of someone that went through that horror and this immediately makes us sympathie and create empathy towards the documentary. We are in the perspective of this narrator as we travel back to what it would have been like to be in that situation in that time of history. It would definitely not be a film for the light hearted as it constantly shows disturbing images which create anger, sympathy and many other emotions. But more importantly, it puts us into the mind of a Jew living at that time as we go through their emotions of fear and terror. We gain emotional context in a subjective way and its put into historical context just the way a performative documentary should do. Again, this is a mode that interests me but currently, there is no documentary idea that we are considering seriously that deal with an issue like this. So in that respect, this mode would not fit well into our ideas currently.

Documentary Genres

While these are all modes that you can film your documentary style in, there are still genres to assess before making the documentary. I will need to understand what these documentaries mean so we are clear on what to make for our documentary come semester to. 

  • Docufiction is a hybrid of a real event documentary that has fictional elements in real time, filmed when the events take place. In which someone (the character) plays his own role in real life.
  • Ethnofiction is a blend of documentary and fiction film in the area of visual anthropology. It is a film in which by means of fictional narrative or creative imagination, often improvising. The portrayed characters (natives) play their own roles as members of an ethnic or social group.
  • Docudrama is a documentary style genre that features dramatised re-enactments of actual historical events. A docudrama strives to adhere to known historical facts, while allowing a greater dramatic license in peripheral details and where there are gaps in the historical record. They are usually filmed at a time subsequent to the event it portrays. I reviewed "World Trade Center" directed by Oliver Stone starring Nicholas Cage concentrating on the fictional story of a firefighter who has to adapt to the real life historical event of the World Trade Center being subject to a terrorist attack on 9/11. 
  • Mockumentary is used to analyse or comment on current events and issues by using a fictional setting or to parody the documentary form itself. The example I looked at was "This Is Spinal Tap"
  • Mondo film is the exploitation of documentary film. They usually are depicting sensational topics, scenes and situations. Taboo subjects such as death and sex, portrayals of foreign cultures and stayed sequences presented as genuine documentary footage. A good example is "Grizzly Man"
Modes and Research

After understanding the differing modes and genres in documentaries, we had to look at them even further and research different film makers and their own individual styles. Raul Ruiz' "Great Events and Ordinary People" is a great example of self reflexive documentary which concentrates on the French elections but even though this concentrates on this issue, the resolution at the end is hard to decipher. It is difficult to even understand who actually won the election. It seems to play around with the whole idea of documentary  form itself as it plays with subjective and objective styles or reality and fiction. This is why it could be seen as a self reflexive documentary with the focus rather turned on itself which is a very unique style of documentary blurring the lines between differing modes or even genres. It almost mocks documentaries as it includes every possible cliche in documentary form and recreates them in a humorous way. Angles, narration, archived footage, colours are all manipulated to create a reflexive documentary where the original focus and issue becomes lost in a collage of itself. 

The first two thirds of the film show the chronological order of events but this trend is suddenly halted where other footage becomes involved as if it is intruding the current documentary and then Ruiz chooses to re run through the previous footage in a different order and in different ways. The already made film meets the unfolding film and creates itself. This has since been described as the new form of documentary or the future of documentary. When watching this documentary, it made me realise that documentary film can be manipulated on a huge scale and not everything we see is true. With this particular documentary, the only things that can be considered true are the parts when nothing is happening or the historical context with facts. While very original and it definitely breaks all conventions that are associated with documentaries, I find this very difficult to engage with and follow and certainly do not feel liberated or self reflexive in myself. I shall look into this style of documentary further to perhaps understand the proper meaning behind them but it will definitely not be something I would be interested in making for my documentary film. 

Another example of self reflexive documentary is Jill Godmilow's 'Far From Poland' which flips the original documentary form onto itself. Its purpose is to follow and find out about the solidarity movement in Poland but instead seems to lose this motion and flips it onto Godmilow's own self doubt. She begins to question herself about what it is like to be a left wing filmaker in this situation and her struggles into making the documentary and whether it is the right thing to do for her. Whether the documentary would help or hinder the movement, whether she even wanted to help or hinder the movement as she begins to see two differing sides to her, the professional filmaker, or the political socialist she is. In terms of a conclusion like the 'Great Events and Ordinary People' documentary, there essentially isn't one. But that is done on purpose and the audience is left wanting as they do not quite know what the conclusion or main focus of the documentary was. Its conclusion is rather that of the documentary filmaker and the process she goes through or rather the internal struggles she goes through. There are a few problems with this one in my mind such as the staged interviews. Originally, Godmilow was denied permission to film about this issue in Poland so instead hired American actors to re-enact interviews that have already been printed. This takes away some of the authenticity of the documentary as re-enactments usually only work with an event that cannot be filmed, not with interviews. They seem unnatural (which they are) and it does not blend well with the rest of realism of the documentary having an actress or actor just repeat some words that have been memorised rather than it coming from the heart. With this documentary more so than Ruiz's I can not really see the point in making this documentary at all. I appreciate the fact that it is a self reflexive documentary but the overall point is lost and even with her struggles, there is not really even a conclusion with her story.

These two documentaries have a lot in common in terms of both being self reflexive but in very different ways as well. For instance, 'Great Events and Ordinary People' mocks the documentary form itself and turns the camera onto itself to create a self reflexive mode while the end product feels like a complete documentary with the rewind meeting the normal footage to create a full narrative while 'Far From Poland' does the same thing but instead concentrates on the filmaker herself. The difference being is that there does not seem to be an actual conclusion and just seems to end leaving the audience confused and wanting.

Documentary Heritage

Documentary films have changed a lot of the decades and probably the biggest change would be the issues concentrated on. Modern issues such as women's rights or their movement, homosexuality, ethnicity and racism, nationality, class and environment. That does not necessarily mean that these issues were not raised in early documentary but these type of issues were taboo and used more as a form of propaganda rather than trying to raise the awareness of the issue. Whether they are current issues or other issues, the same goal is always aimed to achieve and that is to gain a reaction from the audience watching. Whether is for them to be shocked, happy, to raise their awareness or to make them try and do something about it, all documentary films aim to gain some sort of reaction. 

Of course, a lot of this depends on variables such as what mode or genre the documentary is in. Most documentary films aim to make the audience walk away and discuss the subject rather than the documentary itself. But a reflexive documentary would want the audience to discuss the documentary as the subject could sometimes become lost in what the documentary itself is trying to evoke. So when making a documentary, there are a lot of things that need to be considered. You may have an idea to base the documentary about, but what mode is it going to be? What genre? What reaction do you want from the audience? How do you got about creating that reaction? With the information provided, it is not about what is said and why it is said but rather how it is said. It could be said in a derogatory way or in a positive way and this again could be linked to how you would want the audience to react. This is also where the argument comes from saying that no documentary is neutral and no matter how much you try to create a balanced argument, the way you say it and how you say it can have a huge impact on the documentary and how the interviewee reacts or the audience. 

The cinema and Plato is a reflection of movies which can often be a distraction as images themselves cannot be considered truth. When certain semiotics such as light and truth associated with the sun are reflected on something negative, then all original semiotics and meanings are lost so it truly is hard to consider what is actual truth and false. As with documentary film and plato, all images can do is to make a point but we can never really decipher the meanings behind it and will always have to refer to text to gain truth. Plato and documentary film will contain a narrative but it is important to understand that not all narratives are fictional. A documentary will contain a structure with where certain interviews go, the introduction to explain what the documentary is about with the middle being the main body of interviews and information, and the ending being the general conclusion. As explained before, this does not necessarily occur with all documentary forms. Sometimes, they also contain character development if they are following a subject around using manipulation of questions or editing. The audience become attached to the person on the documentary and want to know what happens just as a fictional narrative. Choice of camera shots can also help carry the story along such as extreme close ups of hand movements, or their eyes to show certain emotions. 

So whether we as an audience are seeking a platonic truth in documentary film which is often very unusual as the filmakers can manipulate so much even if they do not intentionally do so. Whether that is done by speech, choice of shots, editing or even the choice to cut out certain parts of the footage in the final piece. They are creating a structured documentary that carries a narrative that intend to connect with the audience in some way and make them react the way they want them to. In terms of a full definition of documentary films and their heritage, they can only be defined depending on what view you look at them. Most filmakers would probably say that they try to capture documentaries as 'natural' as possible where most things are uncontrolled. This is not entirely true as lighting, choice of camera type as well as camera shots manipulate the documentary as a whole. Even if this was an observational documentary where you follow the life of someone (such as 'Don't Look Back') is manipulated because the director chooses what the audience sees and does not see. This is in the directors opinion what needs to be seen while the audience may just want to see a completely normal day. The subject also manipulates the documentary because who is to say that he won't act differently with a camera in his face, perhaps he wishes to show a side of him to the audience that he feels needs to be shown.

Griersonian Documentary

Often referred to as the father of documentary, John Grierson who started as a documentary and film critic eventually made his own documentary films and became infamous in his attempts at groundbreaking documentaries. One of the biggest inovations into the term that is now known as the 'Griersonian documentary' is the choice to take the camera to rugged locations and put the audience somewhere where they never have experienced before. Such as his first film 'Drifters' where he took the camera on a small boat with waves and gales which broke the norm of staging a scene. Separating the form of an artistic approach to documentary film making compared to the actuality of film making. Having talk about it and include archived footage and putting together a well structured piece that offers information while the Griersonian would do this but put you right in the middle of it. Allowing the audience to experience the actuality of the event. The three main things to gather from the Griersonian documentary and its ideology is the political philosophy, aesthetic issues, and organisational and practical issues.

He considered himself a political philosopher and had many different views on the British government and Canadian government and had very strong views about what he considered was right and wrong. These type of issues are extremely important to the general public and he raised awareness about these issues and created a new way of thinking about documentary making. Challenging the power and what they do. When creating documentaries, he wanted to create something that had actuality and realism rather that the artistic form. That does not mean that he completely disregarded the artistic style as he considered his own work to be art on its own. But he did often make known his views on the observational mode of documentaries and the purely artistic documentaries out there and described documentaries definition as "the creative treatment of actuality". The artistic style shows to different meanings at all times so that there is no actual truth behind them. Having some art of an event and the emotion that evokes is completely different to the actual event itself and the emotions associated with that and he had a purely aesthetic view on this issue. 

I think that with Grierson's view of the artistic style vs the actuality style, I side with the latter. The artistic holds to many meanings with the issue and creates more questions rather than answers or even to make the audience ponder about the subject. It is hard to grasp what is the truth and what is not and all sense of realism is lost. The actuality shows more what is real and tries to not mislead the audience and when making our documentary, I think I would lean towards this style of filming.

Further Research

When considering what our documentary film is going to be about, we also looked at what documentaries ideas to stay away from such as poverty and homelessness. Having already covered this issue on a local level last year, this already seemed like a bad idea to revisit. But having done some further research, these documentaries are one of the most biased cases out there. They tend to concentrate on the most extreme cases possible but these never compare to poverty seen outside the UK such as in countries in Africa. These are seen as the most extreme cases of poverty and the UK audience's normal association with poverty so every other case does not really compare. Other than these obvious problems, this is also an idea that has been done before a lot of times, especially by students. In my mind, it is important to be unique and original not just in the student scene, but also in the current market of documentaries at the moment. 

I looked at a number of different videos such as the clip form "Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary" which explains the connection that Patricio Guzmán and Chris Marker had on the making of the documentary "The Battle For Chile". This was very interesting because the whole documentary would not have existed if it wasn't for Chris Marker who only was there to observe because he wanted to make the documentary himself. But since Patricio had already started to make it, Marker decided to buy the film and make it an international film translating it to French airing it to four different countries. He also helped fund some the film reels and made the whole documentary possible. This highlights the problems and struggles to make a documentary despite how good the idea is but having impressed or knowing someone of importance can jumpstart the whole documentary. Just as it says at the end of the clip, all these filmakers are united by one passion and thats the most defining factor above all. 


When researching into the documentary, it is very important to be aware of all the rules and regulations to follow as well as copyright. More information can be found on www.quickthinkingproductions.yolasite.com/databasedocumentary
In case we ever do get in trouble with any different companies due to copyright which we should not do having followed all the rules and reguations which we will do. But if this unfortunate case does happen, then we can contact lawdit solicitors which are situated in Southampton who can help us on any lawsuit that we may find ourselves in. This is just a precaution and we should not need this but it is better to be safe than sorry.
In terms of the actual copyright law, if an item is copyrighted, then there are certain things to consider such as who owns the piece of work. There are a number of different pieces of work that can be copyrighted such as art, texts, films, sound, music, literacy and dramatic. It is important to find out if these pieces are copyrighted and they usually would be labelled with a message at the bottom of with the simple copyright sign. The actual copyright holds an expiry date which can last from 25-70 years of the date first copyrighted depending on what work it is. 

There are certain things that we can and can not do when it comes to copyrighted material. Most of this comes under common sense but it is vital that we understand that we can not copy, adapt, rent, broadcast, perform or show the work in public. But we are allowed to use it as private and research study purposes, lending for educational purposes (which probably best links to us), criticism and news reporting, copies and lending by librarians, producing a back up copy for personal use. The owner of the work also has some personal rights towards the work such as the work being used in derogatory ways. Alternatively, if we really want to obtain the work, then we can actually buy the license of the copyright owner themselves. We should also copyright all of our work when it is made so no one can take it for themselves.  

By Dale Stewart.

Week 2

This week went into Photojournalism and all that entails. We looked at a variety of work including practitioners, photographs, modes, conventions, styles and genres as well as deeper understanding and meaning. Also touching upon video journalism as a rising influence on modern reporting as well as a style in itself. Mockumentary was mentioned and gone into detail about including the sub-genres and the movies that use it such as "Man Bites Dog" (1992). 

A lot of what's mentioned in this weeks further reading has been looked at and explained in depth on my Photojournalism page where I have looked through the history of Photojournalism by looking through the practitioners and analysing the styles and conventions they used to create their bodies of work. This includes the '3 modes of photography', war photography and touches upon the influences and results of technology advancements, advertisements and moving image. 
Click Here
 to go to that page.


‘Mockumentary’ is the genre of which a documentary style has been mimicked or parodied for a specific reason, usually for comedic affect. Creators of a mockumentary expects its audience to have some knowledge of the forms and conventions of documentaries and therefore to understand the fun nature of the mockumentary. This style is similar to that of ‘Reflexive Mode’ in its approach and apparent awareness of the codes used in many previous films. But whilst Reflexive docs are aware of themselves the mockumentary style mocks itself to the extent that everything seen is cleverly but definitely faked. Whether it’s an interview or a voiceover everything has been constructed to be believed but is undeniably faked by the creator. So whilst mockumentaries are made with the hope that it’s viewers have some knowledge about the media form and therefore can distinguish the difference between the two, it is carefully and meticulously planned with the intention that it could also be believed. This can lead to an unaware audience to believe the footage they are viewing which usually results in shock and awe and further investigation: no bad thing for the producer as it acquires the picture more promotion. 

There are even sub-genres of this sub-genre that delves into a deeper understanding of mockumentary.

1.   Parody mockumentary:
This Is Spinal Tap (1984) is the biggest and most obvious parody mockumentary that has been made. The movie directly parodies the cultural icons of the time: Rock stars. It does so in a completely ironic manner, making fun of the huge stars of the day and their outrageous lifestyles and ridiculously high cost demands. The movie is completely aware of its style and the conventions it utilises: live performances, archive footage and interviews. All of these would be seen in any musical documentary of the era yet they are used in the movie for comedic effect, whether it’s showing Spinal Tap’s old days which is a hilarious nod to the British Invasion scene or showing the long line of drummers that die out throughout their career. It’s the use of forms and conventions that install the real element that audiences recognise, confusing them into believing the realism of the piece.

2.   Critique mockumentary:
The Office is a British sitcom written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. The sitcom is filmed as if there is a film crew working in the office filming the employees as they work. It’s stylised as a documentary but it’s mocking the regular life in an office and commenting on the representing of the people who work there-playing up to the camera to portray a fun and lively atmosphere in a largely accepted place of boredom and contempt. This makes us question the realism, we know that the office is not a decent job to have and yet David Brent insists it’s the best laugh you could have. The audience is made to question their beliefs in truth.

3.   Deconstruction mockumentary: brings to the fore an explicit critique of documentary form.
Man Bites Dog (1992) is a user of this format as it uses the documentary form against the audience; making the audience get drawn in and find the main character, Benoit, a likeable and charming character then completely throwing them off with the brutal and graphic murders. So much could be said about this movie that I found, personally, to be very disturbing, very clever and quite funny. It’s a clear nod towards the media’s portrayal of violence in modern culture and how we interpret it. We take what we see as a given and never question it because we have become so desensitised to it. You can’t go a day without seeing violence on the news or the TV in some form and this film tries to get us to accept the violence we are witnessing without question, no matter how bad it is.
It follows most of the forms and conventions, following the primary around and asking questions, getting their opinions and seeing them ‘at work’. Because we are so used to the documentary format we are familiar to what we are watching so we barely pay attention to what is being said. Benoit is giving detailed descriptions of his murders and how he hides the bodies yet this is done so nonchalantly and in a manner we see all the time we never really accept what he is saying. The use of editing helps get the audience into a false sense of security quite often during the film. Just as we begin to feel safe and accept what we are watching, even start laughing and enjoying it, the next scene comes out of nowhere with a totally different tone and gritty, realistic murders which throw us off as it’s not what we were expecting. The Benoit character is so talkative and friendly that we start to like him and hang on his every word, common to good documentaries with a good leading subject. So much so that we even begin to root for him. In the scene when the crew invade the suburban home and the child escapes Benoit’s attack we actually find ourselves hoping he gets caught because if he doesn’t then this charismatic character will be imprisoned and our fun would be over. Then we realise what and who we are rooting for and it makes you think about yourself for a bit: What would I prefer to watch? This is a sad truth of society highlighted really well.
The role of the filmmakers also seems to comment on the documentary form. In the beginning they are simply observing Benoit carrying out his killings (Observational Mode) hiding behind the camera and trying not to get too close to the killer yet as the film goes on they find themselves getting more and more involved, befriending Benoit and eventually participating in his various murders (Participatory Mode). This could be a look at how documentary makers go about their films: starting with an idea that snowballs and becomes something else entirely, approaching the project from a different angle to how it ends up and changing the course of the doc through their own involvement. They even find themselves getting bossed around by Benoit and listening to him without question which perhaps is a mockery of directors caving into huge actors and the power they wield or maybe another testament to our subservient nature. 

Video Journalism

Video Journalism has quickly become one of the most prominent, popular and employable styles of journalism. It basically means journalists that are educated and skilled enough to shoot, edit and present their own footage and story. The improvement and better prices of video technology meant that journalists no longer had to travel with a big production team and could now shoot any event as it happens in an easier manner. This also removed the impersonality of having a big crew giving the video journalist (‘VJ’) more of a creative licence to delve deeper into certain subjects. Pioneered but not necessarily conceived by Michael Rosenblum. He saw the potential of Video Journalism and implemented it into ‘The Voice of America, the United States Government’s broadcasting agency (and the largest broadcaster in the world)’ as well as helping the BBC to follow in those footsteps and they now employ over 600 trained video journalists. http://www.rosenblumtv.com/about/michael-bio/.
There are many arguments for and against the boom of VJ work in the past two decades especially. Many argue that the usefulness of VJ is proved in how close the VJ can get to a story; making it a fairer reflection on the story they are investigating. Also the rising popularity of this form of journalism, along with the price of much of the equipment, led to a rise in Cinéma Vérité documentaries too. Yet there are those who argue VJ is nothing more than a cheaper, less skilful means of telling stories where anyone can pick up a camera and create anything they want. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

In an interview carried out by The Online Journalism Review and the photo-journalist turned VJ Travis Fox there is much explained and explored in the genre that I think is both interesting and important. Fox is an Emmy Award-winning video journalist who worked for the Washington Post for 10 years covering all kinds of subjects including major conflicts at the beginning of the century. When asked why he thinks his videos became suddenly prominent at Washington Post (a largely print based reporting centre) he replied saying that it was due to the Iraq war which is so high profile that people couldn’t help but notice. This suggests that given the extreme nature of the subject matter the more likely the product will be viewed, despite the media used to create it. Fox goes on to make an interesting and, I feel, a very accurate take on the relationship between video journalism produced online and the news broadcast on TV. He says that people actually have to go out of their way to watch one of his (or any) videos online and this means they have some interest in the journalist or subject therefore they’re drawn to it and likely to watch the entire thing whereas on a TV broadcast it becomes secondary media as it’s just on as the person is concentrating on something else. That being said a TV broadcast would get far more views than one on a website due to the channels viewing figures which, clearly, means that as the TV news was seen by more it is advertised more than the VJ on the website. Fox also talks about media convergence and how that helps make video-docs better and more accepted among the public. Initially it’s finding the balance and appropriate methods to use (panorama, blogs, Flash etc) and then producing work that suits the best methods that correlate perfectly with the subject matter. These familiar and relatable methods are welcomed by the public which makes the VJ something that isn’t ignored. Yet this can backfire. Fox mentions how for one of his projects he was documenting the Sri Lankan Tsunami and, along with his video-doc, he started a blog to give constant updates about the situation. What he didn’t plan was how, following the tsunami, the blog would be carried on and maintained. This shows how with Video-Journalism the investigation doesn’t stop with the video you’ve produced but with the other media you’ve used and utilised to help promote it or tell the story. When asked about the role of VJ in a paper and how it would develop Fox says how he had collaborated with a Post writer about the same topic. They swapped notes and shared scripts and whilst they never directly worked together the piece they produced was nominated for an Emmy. This may very well be the future of VJ and journalism as a whole, especially in the 21st century world of media where convergence is almost essential to success.
Travis Fox’s multimedia report on A Portrait on Coney Island that he made for Washington Post perfectly explains the importance of convergence for web-based video journalism. The video-photo report is related to the article by Anthony Faiola who talks about the demise of the Coney Island ‘as we know it’ (the park faces a redevelop programme that has upset many who prefer their traditional take). Fox’s report is an anthropological look at Coney Island and the fun and joy it brings to its customers in a 3 minute video and several panoramic photographs. This combination gives the reader a chance to delve deeper into the subject and sucks them more into the world of the situation so they can empathise with it more.

Viewmagazine.tv’s  ‘8 days’ is a film about 8 newspaper journalist who have only 8 days to learn how to become video journalists and then report on a murder case. The film opens with a mock preview page saying ‘The following FEATURE is an approved MI2 VIDEOJOURNALISM REPORT-INTEGRATED MEDIA.’ etc. which is a play on many films openings. It was created, written and filmed by David Dunkley Gyimah who wanted to show how difficult or how possible it was for regular journalists (ranging from sports to assistant editor) to become VJ. Whilst this is very far from a good documentary the message of it is evident and a conclusion reached. It seems that the journalists struggle when starting out at this type of media and messing up several things such as framing and sound. Yet by the end of the day they pull through and manage to get all the footage they need from the murder case showing that they have managed to become VJ. But the main thing to take away from this documentary is the fact that the newspapers (Hull Daily Mail and Liverpool Echo) thought it was important enough to train their staff to be VJ as it is such an essential form of news and reporting in the current climate of journalism.

Mediastorm is a hub of modern video journalism: a website dedicated to VJ’s who go out and create short but powerful pieces of media that are meant to inform and cause emotive reactions from the viewers. Regarded on the website as ‘visual storytellers’ (a very apt title) the topics covered by these VJ’s ranges through an enormity of subjects such as war, natural disasters, drugs and love to name a few. These aren’t all necessarily documentaries, some leaning over to animations and even fiction, but the majority of them are mainly docs that get deep into situations that many are unaware of or looking at things we are all know about but with a new take and presented differently.
One of the videos on Mediastorm is an investigative doc about drug use called The Ninth Floor by Jessica Dimmock [http://mediastorm.com/publication/the-ninth-floor]. It looks into an apartment in New York where as many as 30 addicts would spend their time getting high and doing little else. The apartment falling into disrepair when the owner, Joe Smith, is hospitalised and the ‘tenants’ can no longer afford to stay there having sold off everything of value. The video follows the lives of the addicts during and after their stay in the ninth floor, watching as they try to get clean, raise a family and survive without their fix. The first thing to note that was interesting about this piece was the lack of video used. For a video journalist one would assume that video would be essential but I think it’s for this reason that Dimmock didn’t use it as she thought she’d rely too heavily on it; making it look like another pitiful take on ‘poor junkies’. Instead, with the medium of stills, the audience is given the chance to take in the image they are witnessing and absorb what they are being fed. Considering that most of the photos are quite shocking and graphic in nature this was used to good effect. Also I’m sure the decision was made regarding the legality of having video footage of drugs being taken; given that the video was completely about the human nature of drug taken, not having footage of it would have come as a disappointment to many viewers. The audio was done to create a sense of solitude for the speaker. We cannot hear anything but their dialogue (and the music) which makes it bold and stands out. Dimmock must have made sure she recorded the speech in a completely quiet room with no outside noise so that we are drawn into what is being said rather than it just being background noise that we become subservient to. The music is also created to give an emotive reading of the visuals; it accompanies it well such as the scene showing Dionn and Rachel odd relationship having the music speed up and become more intense to showcase this. The reason I like this particular Mediastorm video is because it is a subject well documented and covered in various media beforehand yet with a different slant. The public know about heroin-the destructive nature, the addictive tendencies, the fall into darkness and hopelessness but whilst they see it in films and hear it in music they haven’t seen real case studies and real people having to deal with it. I think The Ninth Floor captures this perfectly and presents an interesting, thought-provoking story.

Evidence of My Existence [http://mediastorm.com/publication/evidence-of-my-existenceis an insightful and sincere look into a life of a photo journalist. It is an interesting take to document and tell a story about the people whose job it is to document and tell stories to the public. Jim Lo Scalzo’s blunt and open honesty about his life and career instantly builds a relationship with the audience thus making us empathise with him and draws us into the video. It is meant as a sort of irony how his job is to tell a story about others so that the world can see it and react accordingly and yet this is now what he is doing about himself. Initially he states the difficulty of juggling his career with his personal life and looking after his wife, who just had a second miscarriage, and then we are swiftly taken into his world of photojournalism all over the planet: India, Antarctica and Iraq. The majority of visuals being made up of his photo journalism career intertwined with footage of his trips and some of the graphic material that he gathered. The stills and footage are perfectly meshed to create his representation of whatever he was shooting. The injured and disfigured patients in India are shown in painfully shown in the stills cutting between footage of a live operation and amputees going about their days. The images are striking and powerful and the footage is shocking and somewhat grotesque. They complement each other perfectly. As they do throughout the video. The point behind this whole video is Scalzo trying to find himself, find his identity and looking for something that he can leave behind, something that says to the world, ‘This is me, this is what I’ve created.’ a legacy of sorts. We as an audience are taken on a journey of him reliving his career, through the years he has been a photojournalist, searching for a purpose. The emotional arc reaches its climax when we discover his wife has given birth and Scalzo then stops being a photographer to raise his child. We realise that it isn’t his work or his career, his highly acclaimed photos or his many travels that he will leave behind as evidence of his existence but his son instead. This moment is achieved so well considering the previous mention of the miscarriages and the journey we went on just to return home. He searched the world for a purpose and all along it was where he started. This may come across as cliché but it is represented so well in the video that you’re just so happy for him that you don’t notice.

One of the most honest and perfectly objective videos I have seen is New York Reacts; a video by Ray Farkas shot 2 days after the al-Qaeda attack on the Twin Towers on September 11th 2001 [http://mediastorm.com/publication/new-york-reacts]. The reactions of the people of New York as they try to understand and respond to the horror scenes they witnessed 2 days prior. To the most patriotic people in the world the ramifications were huge, many people hoping for immediate and aggressive retaliation whilst others suggest that a select few should be singled out rather than a whole nation. This fly on the wall (very fitting description) video shows New Yorkers conversations about 9/11 without any interference by the camera or the director; no questions are asked, no suggestions put to the people or any voice of god narration. It’s just people talking about a huge, monumental event that will change their lives and the world forever. This type of filmmaking gives the chance for proper, reliable accounts and emotions whether it’s sadness or anger (as seen in the scene with the woman in the Café who starts arguing with a customer) we know for a fact that’s exactly how they feel. This, then, is an event-driven piece that uses a statuary form of camera work so we remain as if looking in on what’s taking place.

6 Qualities

Beyond the literal meanings and stories behind many photographs and photo essays is a list of 6 qualities that all photo journalists should be aware of. Taking photos that fall into one (or many) of these categories means that the photo now has a bigger depth and meaning leading to deeper understanding by the viewers of the work. Whilst all photographers can and do use these 6 qualities it is uniquely photo journalists that use them as a statement on the wider social issues and potentially use said photographs to do something about it.

Emotional Content:

This type of photojournalism is used to create a personal reflection from the viewer and asks them to feel sorry for the subject of the photo. This is used through either a use of despair and loss or solitude and sadness. Facial expressions are commonly used to give an impression of the emotional content but sometimes a blank face or even no face can hold more context than those with expressions.

Relative Content:

Something that we as an audience can relate to, a symbolic image that needs no explaining as it’s burned into our psyche. This quality requires a lot of semiotics to deliver the proper connotations that we are supposed to understand. It’s almost a form of reflexive mode in as much as it expects us to know something about it without having to spell it out to us.

Empathy and Quizzical thoughts:

An image that we tend to find interesting enough to question it and look into it more than we usually would; a type of photo that requires us not to take it as face value and look deeper than what we are shown. The empathy side is where we find ourselves relating to and giving compassion to the subject of the photo but this depends on how they are being represented. Misrepresentation can lead to a negative view on the subject that’s incorrect but we, as an audience, are none the wiser as it’s the context that we read.

Shock and Expectation:

Possibly the most difficult style to capture as it requires a lot of guts and bravery to capture something that shocks audiences enough to evoke a powerful reaction. The photo can stick in the minds of people much more effectively than moving image and taking a photo of something like a dead soldier, or something that is not the norm to show, is a very powerful tool in photojournalism.


Something that seems initially to be commonplace and regular except captured in such a way that the audience interprets it as a secretive investigation type of photojournalism through the context and angles of the shots. It’s something that’s not usually touched upon.


Surrealism is the approach that previously undermined and often unheard groups and types of people are finally given a voice that is represented throughout society. This is a style that most unique documentaries tend to adopt as it’s looking at something that hasn’t been seen before which is guaranteed to gain some interest.

By Daniel Ashfield.

Week 3

This week explained the settings, styles and adjustments of the new 550D/650D camera’s we’ll be working with over the course of semester one. Not only using them for documentary purposes but importantly for our photo essay, in this photo essay we had to demonstrate the uses with the new Canon’s via photo essay and technical photos.

Our two tasks set for a latter stage in the year was to produce different types of photos to explain our experience with the new cameras. The first task was to produce examples differing the depth of field, shutter speeds, focus through shot, breaking the edges, panning, night flash, long exposures, film speeds, white balance and finally above and below shots, all of which on the same subject to show the difference.

Depth of field – having researched and looked into every different shot given, I decided the best way was to look at further examples of these settings being shown. DOF is the distance from the nearest and furthest objects in a scene that appear in the image exceedingly sharp however the disadvantage is the lens can only focus at one distance at a time.

A good example over previous years of this technique is ‘Russian Noir’ by Jason Eskenazi, well known for his comprehensive documentary project around Russia and former Soviet Union areas called ‘Wonderland: A Fairy Tale Of The Soviet Monolith’. He thought he would change the world using photographs and show to people he connection to the world through his eyes, this project recently published into a book showing the dark forces demoralizing society by the Soviet Union. Eskenazi has his own style of photos, keeping the hue/saturation level being black and white also showing the shadows excessively, mainly on the subject’s faces to show the breakdown in society or them paying the price. There’s a particular photo showing soldiers/people topless with their shirts on the floor with them lined up using the rules of third technique to the right of the frame. The shadows play a considerable amount on the subjects extremely, showing the deterioration of their bodies plays on the audience emotional side by how they are treated.

Shutter Speed – Which is the aperture of the lens where the light shines through, determines the amount of light given that reaches the sensor. The shutter has the ability to alternate the light being shown on the picture being taken, remarkably the shutter speed changes to interact with the movement of the objects in the frame however switching the camera to manual results in the user changing to fit him or her comfortably. Shorter shutter speeds freeze the object entirely regardless the speed they are going this technique is particularly used for motion blur effects during post-production to employ a deliberate effect also used primarily for panning shots. However longer shutter speeds are intentionally used to blur an object, these speeds are no longer useful for freezing motion, there used to create more depth for the image with hints of sharpness.

A good example of capturing images using all kinds of shutter speeds is ‘Art Wolfe’; he specializes in taking photographs of nature and wildlife, he combines photojournalism with art photography however he uses techniques during post-production by relieving a few elements in the picture which he calls ‘Digital Art’. I looked at a few photos on his website www.artwolfe.com where I proceeded to prints.

Breaking edges – This technique for an image is mainly letting the subject free flow in the frame, creating the realism for the image. The idea is to having parts of the subject in the image and letting the audience imagination take over what’s not in the frame plus destroying the moment of staging of the photograph with the hint of naturalism.

A good example breaking edges could be Henri Cartier-Bresson originally from France who is considered to be the father of modern photojournalism; he influenced many young photographers coming through especially linked with street photography. He never photographed using flash; he believed it was rude, impolite and ignorant also working in black and white where he failed miserably trying in color. An example of one of his photos is the woman relaxing on the sofa only with her legs in frame:


Long Exposures - Camera shutters often include a few other settings for the use of long bulb exposures for the shutter to open long enough to capture the light in the photograph to cause the light being constantly followed until close.  Also when the frame includes both stationary and moving objects, the slow shutter speeds linked with long exposures allows the lens to follow the light producing light trails. However long exposure shots are easily to succeed with low light conditions but it can be done in lighter conditions but manually using the settings and filters to accomplish this.

A good example I found was from well-known photographer ‘Yousuf Karsh’ where he took the photo of Vancouver at night in 1952. Yousuf had a great deal of experience with studio lights and how they can bring out the best in the object in the photograph, they said he had the gift of capturing the essence of his subject in the instant of his portrait. He believed every photograph had to be more than the subject in the frame; a hint of emotion, the sparkle in the eye or even hand gestures spoke to him a lot more than just the person. You can tell Yousuf loved to use studio lights in all of his photos especially the photo of Humphrey Bogart with a cigarette and finally the famous Winston Churchill portrait, there were separate studio lights focusing on his hands all inspired by John Garo an MP politician. 

Above and Below – these shots are to create depth within the subject, making them or the object very powerful, strong or a hero about them as for the person or object being low creates bigger forms and sense of scale towards them and other objects around it, making them feel worthless as well as the angle plays an important part on the message of the photo. Images from above can signify repression which is that it ensures what’s is and what’s not acceptable to the conscious mind.

Good examples of practitioners shown in their photography are ‘Mike and Sue Scott’ who are highland naturalists and better-known photographer Ansel Adams. Mike and Sue specialize in wildlife photographs from above and below; http://www.aboveandbelowimages.com/ here on their website they have separate galleries for each ‘Above’ and ‘Below’ shots mainly aimed at marine, underwater wildlife and sea creatures. Another example is Ansel Adams, he is an American photographer and environmentalist, and he is best known for his black and white photographs of the American-west from culture to the national park. Some of his photographs explained above and below shots very clearly especially the Baton practice at the Mananzar War Relocation Center in 1943.

Undisclosed Recipients: documentary in an era of digital convergence

Sharon lin Tay observes Trinh T. Minh-ha’s digital documentary ‘The Fourth Dimension’ back in 2001 which was based on an economic boom in Japan. ‘Fourth Dimension’ deals with the modern age of Japan and how tradition, global and local binary is reflected in Japan’s celebrations for its culture but yet negatively been caught in the decline of globalization. The argument Sharon in her opinion shows that digital images provide means that can enhance the discussion of a documentary beyond claims of realism and truth plus showing the limitations of audio and visual evidence after watching Minh-ha’s documentary style of filmmaking which is putting herself as the active subject before involving herself as the narrator shows her desire to be so subjective in her work making it so thorough and tense. 

Dale Hudson suggests ways that upcoming futuristic new media disrupts the traditional structures conventionally described to documentary practices plus amending the concept of a documentary not only in terms of a relation or an occupying space but rationality. Hudson argues the fact that documentaries including databases detach inference about documentaries with traditional modes revolving around expository, observational and personal plus open modes such as collaborative, reflexive and interactive forms of documentaries.

Foreground vs. Background – Most of these types of images can be staged or placed, photographers tend to keep the subjects at the front of the image to show a journey, coming or leaving the image frame however the subjects to the background of the image resembles information about the subject.

A good example playing on the foreground and background technique is Martin Parr used this in Barcelona; he caught an image of a few tourists in identical stances in the foreground but captured the precise meaning of subjects in the background giving off information.


By Joe Taphouse. 

Week 4

 Changing Representation of International News

Although the issue of national poverty is covered in most countries this coverage is peripheral and rarely explored by media in any depth.

News media coverage of poverty in the developing world receives equal coverage as poverty in the developing country.  But this coverage is depicted differently.  These images heavily influence the way an audience perceives poverty in and outside the Nation.

While working on any production, photojournalists and documentary filmmakers are confronted with ethical dilemmas - whether to intervene in order to save a life or lives, in many situations such as disasters and conflicts that may occur around the world, they could act to save without capturing the images or capture these images and the images framed and circulated by news agencies in such a way that the audiences interpret these representations and their causes and affects in accordance with the beliefs and understanding that the producer intended.  Although when considering whether to capture the images or not, photojournalists and documentary filmmakers should take into account if any atrocity or incident has been staged for a propaganda agenda.

Over the last few decades international news production has developed a strong link between international news coverage and official foreign policies pursued by certain governments.  As well as this, the flow and content of this news coverage has the power to influence an audience's knowledge and perception of other countries and its people especially when an audience has little or no first hand knowledge of these countries or no other means of gaining information about these countries.  There is also the distribution and production of internal news that provides an unbalanced news flow from developed to developing countries that creates information dependency of the developing countries and negative coverage of developed countries.

Western news agencies such as Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France Press operating out of New York, Paris and London dominate the stream of international news flow.  In the 1970's 80 percent of this flow emanated from these sources.  Since the fall of the Berlin Wall the effective collapse of communism and the proliferation of local, regional and global media and some increase in competition in the second tier of news agency hierarchy by some national news agencies such as Spain's EFE and Germany's DPA.  This percentage has remained much the same in the ensuing decades, the structure of raw news media market remains dominated by these western news agencies.

Since the 1990's with third world countries in financial crisis alternative news agencies such as Pan African Press Agency, Inter Pres Service the Non-Aligned Press Agency Pool are almost non-existent resulting in a weaker service of news agencies.  This created an imbalance of news flow, negative coverage of developing regions and information dependency/  With western news agencies influencing what news gets into the news flow and the standard of content, form and presentation of news.  This gives credence to the argument that the structural dominance of the big western agencies produces negative coverage of developing countries.

In 1959 the leading Slovenian newspaper Delo (Labour) was established.  For more than fifty years it has been involved in active co-creation of the Slovenian public space; it covers politics, economics, sports, culture and social events.  In 1991 Slovenia gained independence from Yugoslavia.  Like most former communist countries converting to capitalism and democracy it brought about changes in media/mass communication and public rhetoric.  News coverage of developing countries fell and this coverage became negative news with photographic presentation also changing from neutral to symbolic.  These press photographs are used to create and enforce a use and them national interest and identity rhetoric.

In 1980 Slovenia was still part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Delo mirrored the government's social political position despite being a country both politically and geographically of the second world it shared and voiced many of the third world's concerns.  It also provided comprehensive information and interpreted and critiqued so called negative phenomena in society for its readership and wee a means of social education.

During this time Delo and the rest of the Yugoslavian media took a mutual stance in reflecting international news and became prominent members of the Non Alighted Movement and dedicated to building horizontal communication among Non Alighted and third world countries and stimulated news flows.  Information exchange between third world countries that was unmediated by the big 4 western news agencies and had a network of correspondents and stringers throughout the world to balance the big 4 major agencies and reflect a Non Alighted position on power centres of the world. 

After 1991 when Slovenia gained its independence from Yugoslavia Delo maintained a network of foreign correspondents and stringers throughout Europe, the USA, the Middle East and China as well as most major cities.  This was in order to continue to provide a national interpretation of world news - it would also send special correspondence together with a photographer to cover major international crises, conflicts and in depth reporting on political and topics.  At this time along with the media industry there was a remarkable shift in its reporting of developing countries, Delo articles on the developing world dropped.

One of the changes in international news reporting is the increase of press photography used to strucutre and narrate the news with use of symbolic photographs.  Whereas in the 80's photographs of events and their aftermath were objective mid shots and static.  Photographs of politicians were head and shoulder portraits, this has also changed to symbolic photographs such as the use of less formal portraits and the use of photographs that have no real connection to the event reported.

This style of symbolic photography substitutes story telling and validation for interpretation and creates inequality in visual presentation of developed and developing countries and becomes a vehicle to deliver a message of us and them.

News photographs often being the first message that an audience sees perform an important function in international news coverage and the switch to the use of symbolic photography with the ability to elicit emotional response is becoming more and more preferirnt in the changing media.

By Patrick Reilly.

Week 5 

After the week 5 sessions on how to edit Raw images we are all aware that it all starts with a cameras raw image file which is when the photo contains minimally processed data from the image sensor. The photo is normally processed by a raw converter within the camera settings where precise adjustments can be made for the conversion to a "positive" file format such as JPEG for reasons like storage, printing, or further manipulation on editing programs. These are then uploaded onto a computer where each photo has two versions of itself, one being a Raw file and the other being a JPEG.

During this session we we’re shown the basic ways around how to use Photoshop raw editing program. We we’re all satisfied with the skills we had been taught but to be able to become comfortable and confident when using the raw editor you need more than one try so I went and experimented more in my own time to improve my skills in using this program.

I experimented with each of the tabs available on Raw editing program. Firstly I played around with manipulating the highlights/lights/darks and shadows of the image like shown in the example below. I liked the look of the image when the highlights where enhanced dramatically, adding lots of brightness which creates a sense of shock and power to the photo.

To demonstrate how professional photographers use raw editing in their images I used examples form one of my favourite photographers Eleanor Hardwick.

The photographs by Eleanor on the left show how she has played around with the highlights and darks of the image to enhance the colours. As you can see on both images the skin colour of the subject had an orange tone, the colours of her fur coat and the colour of the grass have all been enhanced with the highlights/lights/darks tab in raw editing.

When it came to experimenting with the basic tabs it was about adjusting things like the exposure/brightness/contrast and recovery all these are used to fix or improve small mistakes created when capturing the image. For example the original photo may have come out underexposed or over exposed so I would use the exposure tool to adjust it to what you want your picture to look like.

My next step was to experiment with HSL/Greyscale tab which contains Hue/Saturation and Luminance which are used to change and manipulate the colouring of the photo, for example change it to black&white or any other colour depending on what look you want for your image.

These are some more examples of photographs where Eleanor takes away the saturation from her images in raw editing to change them to black and white. The top two B&W images don't have as much contrast as the ones below it, this is because Eleanor would of enhanced the contrast during raw editing on the bottom two images and on the top two she would of just left them with the soft B&W effect.

Another tab available to us on the Photoshop raw editor is split toning which is about adding a filter evenly over the whole of the images like shown in the example I’ve done below. I played around with the Hue and saturation of both the highlights and shadows evenly across the whole picture unlike on the HSL tab where it manipulates the colour of particular parts in the image (for example the just the colour of the green top could be manipulated).

These 3 images by Eleanor show how she has played around with the hue and saturation colour tab to create a coulour filter effect of the photographs. As you can see she has manipulated the reds and blues in the image to create the coloured effect on them, this ads uniqueness and creativity to the photos, also giving them an old vintage look.     

With the lens corrections tab I experimented with the lens vignetting tool. With this tool I can create a dark smoky outline around the image which is good when wanting to draw or pinpoint a certain area of the photo or to simple guide then eye line of the viewer.

These last two examples also by one of my favourite photographers Eleanor Hardwick, they show how she has used vignetting in some of her photos. She does this the same way as I have demonstrated above. This vignetting effect is done on Photoshops raw editor, the dark shadowy effect created around the photograph is used to pinpoint and draw attention to the subject in the photos. For example the vignetting on Eleanors photos are drawing the viewers eyes to the icecream van and to the girl floating in the middle of the water.  

By Monica Gameiro.

 Week 6

One of the most important aspects of creating a documentary is showing the journey of whatever/whoever the subject is. Whether that be person, the filmaker or the documentary itself. This can be seen in many examples of not just the fact that the documentary contains a journey but why they want to make that journey in the first place. The best examples are documentaries such as Werner Herzog's 'My Best Fiend' which shows the relationship between him and the German actor Klaus Kinski. It shows the journey that they have been through to reach that 'love-hate' relationship that they have to ultimately deciding that despite it all, he does love him as a friend. We went through them on this journey to find out that they do actually like each other. This is in poetic mode so this is a journey in metaphorical terms but still a journey nevertheless.

A more common example would be something like 'Pinfall' where they have a beginning setting the goal or setting the journey so to speak. And they can clearly see the finishing point of where they want to get to at the end of the documentary. So we as the audience go with the subject as he trains to become a professional wrestler and the ending is the show where he successfully competes. This is the point he wanted to get to so the documentary follows the point and gets to that point to create a journey. Most documentary films will follow this basic structure of beginning, middle, end. Starting point, travelling, destination and so on. 

The one real problem with documentaries are the reality of the them. How real is the reality? There are certain documentaries that use a blend of real life events with re-enactments. The one big flaw with re-enactments is how much can they be trusted. No matter how well it is acted, we are never really going to find out exactly what it was like for the people there unless we were to see the actual people that have been through the situation. But even then, they can tell us as much as they can remember and they may be influenced by the fact there are cameras there and are being asked questions. They can choose what information the documentary can have and not have.

When making our documentary, the norm of documentary film making would be to have closure to the documentary. Introduce the problem or issue and walk the audience through it creating empathy to have closure at the end. This way the audience feel like they have helped and cared in some way by watching the film. Alternatively, we could make the documentary to tackle exactly the same issue but not provide closure. In fact, we could completely rip apart the relationship between the audience and the film. It ends with ambiguity and very different intentions. The latter is definitely the view Jill Godmilow but I tend to disagree. I think that if you attempt to harm the relationship between the audience and film and not provide closure, it leaves things to open. Creating closure to the documentary (depending on what documentary mode it is) creates empathy with the audience. After watching it, they feel like they have come away with something and hopefully feel more knowledgeable and have sensitivity to that subject from then on. With the no closure technique, it may create quizzical thoughts but they won't know what to do with that information. 

For more information on OFCOM and BBC guidelines as well as competitions, etc. Vist the Database Documentary page which I completed. 

By Dale Stewart.

 Week 7

After watching Prison Valley, directed by Philippe Brault and David Dufresne. I was greatly inspired by the media storm feel of the documentary. The way in which the documentary flowed and kept the audience continuously stimulated and entertained was really interesting. The web documentary is a genre that I had never come across before but found myself really enjoying it. The site really got the audience involved including social networking sites such as Facebook and Titter to create accounts. Giving the chance for the viewer to create an account in which they can watch as many videos as they wanted to and then leave the site to come back at a later date to watch more. I personally think that this relatively new genre of documentary which had elements of a game like feel, in the interactive choices the audience got to choose what path they went down to watch the documentary is very successful. In this modern day and age when people seem to have no spare time on their hands it seems to work effectively. The continuity of the documentary style and the website made me think of our own film and the importance of continuity in our own work. We need to make sure that the film, website and promotional trailer and it's supporting promo material all compliment and match each other. 

The documentary then led me onto further research into the genre Web Documentary, which enabled me to understand fully what the genre conventions where. Some of these were that the documentary would be viewer led and not necessarily have a linear narrative as well as the multimedia format. 

While researching further into the genre I came across a website called MultiMedia Documentary: http://www.multimediadocumentary.com/#!?page_id=2  Which is a fresh way of creating and distributing multimedia films and is open to anyone who is interested in film or photography.

I also came across this documentary Remember Me in the form of a Photo Essay, it really hit me, firstly because of the truly inspiring photography, with every image creating meaning for the viewer. Secondly because of the subject matter, having had to watch a close family member pass away in a very similar way, the documentaries aim was to document the families journey as well as act as support for others going through the same problems. The fact that the film brought me to tears and I felt great empathy for the family and friends that Carolynne had left behind shows in itself how successful it is, I will keep the documentary with me for a long time, it left a long lasting memory. I aim to create a documentary that will effect the viewer in such a way that they feel such empathy, i feel if we are able to do this we will be very successful. The use of dynamic, emotive photography and sound of interviews with the family was so simple yet extremely effective, the simplicity worked very well for this documentary. There was no use of emotive music which I found very interesting as before watching the film I would have felt that you would need to use music to create emotion in the film. This is the link to the film- http://www.conmon.com/slideshow/rememberme/ 

From there I found Culture Unplugged Studios which features a 'consciousness review' underneath each film, so that the viewer can engage and offer their opinion. I think that this idea of putting a review for each film was a good idea as it shows what films have more effect on the viewer. This is a link to the website an example of a film with the review underneath it. http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentaries/watch-online/festival/openingFilm.php   

I also came across a Web Doc about everyday objects and how they have their own stories, it engages the viewer by asking you to lead the film by typing an objects name or scanning it's barcode with a smartphone to view a video. I thought that this was a really unique and interesting way of getting the viewer to think about everyday object in a new light as well as showcase different filming techniques and styles. An example of this is the use of still observational filming compared to the camera moving with the subject or object.  http://codebarre.tv/en/#/en/film/13

I also found a site called Interactive Documentary which is an archive of many Web and interactive documentaries. http://codebarre.tv/en/#/en/film/13 The site was started as a blog for a PHD to try to follow all Interactive genre films however the person who started it has since stopped as there are now too many to count. I found the site very informative about many documentaries and found it interesting that people would create a blog just for documentary films. 

Another example of a really interesting Web Doc and interactive website is Small Towns Big Stories which is about a number of different small towns that have stories to tell and the viewer can pick and choose which film they would like to watch, they include video, stills and sound. I really enjoyed watching these short films as they offered something new and interesting, the towns are from different parts of the world, and I found I learnt a lot about different problems in other countries. It was watching these films that really made me realize just how interactive and we are now able to find out about a tiny town all the way on the other side of the world with just one click of a mouse. Almost making me feel as if I was a part of the community although I am thousands of miles away from them, most importantly it made me empathize and feel for the people in the locations.  http://bigstories.com.au/#/story/recovery/film/scra-strathewen-community-renewal-association- Link to the site and film.

The interactive, poetic Documentary Insitu is a film by Antoine Viviani of the urban space in Europe. The viewer can pick and choose what chapter they want to watch or watch the whole film through. They also have the chance to view a participatory map of all of the locations featured in the film, that they can upload their own videos onto. It also features a blog that allows the debate to go on after the film. http://insitu.arte.tv/en/#/about

The poetic style of the documentary makes it very artistic and interesting to view, an example of this is the use of many tracking shots that are very darkly lit, giving an eerie feel to the piece alongside the chilling choir voices singing over the top.

The use of sound in this documentary is key, an example of this is the use of a repeated scraping sound that a character makes in it, that is then created into a rhythm, which creates a climax and flows into the next video. Canted angles, close up's and Breaking the Edge shots of body parts that are used in the film add mystery and intrigue. I really enjoyed watching this film, it kept me interested and engaged as well as wanting to find out what was going to happen next or even trying to figure out what was happening in some of the shots. The film in my view seems to give the viewer the chance to make their own interpretation rather than telling the story really obviously. It works really well in portraying the feelings or sounds of urban areas, the loneliness and isolation that someone can feel even though they are surrounded by hundreds of other people. The issue of time and how no one ever seems to have any and always seem to be in a rush is another key example in this film, shots used to portray this are tracking shots which make you feel you are following someone and then they cut to another person rushing in a different direction. There are also mid shots used on an escalator watching the people pass by as if the viewer is actually there and that people are just ignoring you as they walk past. The audience has the chance to click onto the film while it is still playing and interact with it, it gives you the chance to click on a person and hear what they are thinking, I found this was a really innovative way of making the viewer think about how so many people in cities don’t talk to each other or keep their thoughts to themselves.

http://vimeo.com/25353373  - link to the trailer.

Money Wars is visually rich, the sound, diegetic and non diegetic, and image match perfectly. There is very strong imagery used in this short documentary, which really makes the viewer think about the messages behind the film of how money is being used when we don't have enough because of credit cards and banks being greedy and the governments not always doing the right thing by the people to make more money. The use of slow motion is very lyrical and connotes memories and it adds a sad atmosphere to the film. This is also complimented by the many shots of lights that blur in and out of focus. http://www.moneywarstv.com - Link to the site and trailer.

http://mediastorm.com/publication/african-air  I found a beautiful short film on MediaStorm Called Africa Air made by George Steinmetz who has been travelling around almost all of Africa's countries for over 30 years and he made the film with images and video. In his own words he says "my work in Africa is a love poem for the continent" He claims he was trying to record the beauty he see's there and hopes people will respond to it. I was really drawn in by this film firstly because I share a love for Africa like the filmmaker but also because of the simplicity and the beauty of the film. I am greatly inspired by the film and it has given me hope to try to create a simple yet beautiful and eye-catching trailer for our documentary. The composition of the photographs and video footage is extremely well thought out and shows how professional the team is. The only problem I thought that my group and I might come across was the time constraint on the trailer, we will have to really think carefully about what we are trying to portray in our trailer and the message we want to put across and focus the images, video and sound on these aims.

While reading the PDF by Charles Forceville about Source-Path-Goal Schema I found that I needed help in understanding what the theory meant, as a dyslexic person I learn using visual aids. When I found the diagrams on the PDF that explained the theory in short as tables, I found that I was able to understand the theory much more clearly than before. http://www.signsofidentity.de/fileadmin/abstracts/forceville.html   

My understanding of the Source-Path-Goal Schema is that it is one of the most important schemes with regard to making sense of a story. It structures the concept of a JOURNEY (start, path and destination); it shapes the viewers understanding of a QUEST (Aim, development and achievement) and a STORY (beginning, middle and ending). It is similar to the way in which we move from A to B on a daily basis, we travel from somewhere with the aim to get to somewhere else, whether this be physically or emotionally. What I learnt from reading the PDF was that the JOURNEY, QUEST and STORY more or less follow the same Source-Path-Goal schema and that they can intertwine, making it seem as though the JOURNEY and the QUEST are more important when in actual fact it is the STORY that makes the whole film come together. The schema works best with the genre of Road Movies such as Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967) and Natural Born Killers (Oliver Stone, 1994), both of these films start with the characters having starting on a journey physically as well as emotionally. In Bonnie and Clyde the characters are escaping reality of the depression when there was no money in living a dangerous and wealthy lifestyle as well as physically travelling around America to escape the troubles they leave behind. The documentary genre Autobiographical Journey Documentaries, which represent the film maker (usually the narrators) literal journey from one place to another, it is normally shown through JOURNEY with shots through cars and shots of their feet travelling as well as QUEST, hearing what they aim to do through their travels through narration and pieces to camera and STORY how it all comes together to tell the viewer what the film maker is doing and learning or achieving and what they have overcome. This type of documentary gives more power to the filmmaker in voicing their own opinions, as it is their journey they are undertaking and they don't necessarily have to show another side to the story. Narrators usually know the outcome of the story and look back with hindsight, which they did not have at the time of shooting. The Source-Path-Goal Schema structure creates a rich and multidimensional narrative, which in the end gives the viewer an interesting and exciting film to watch, going through what the filmmaker had to do and overcome. Speaking over the film turns their quests into stories and the scripted diegetic and non-diegetic narration show the transformation process.

By Zara Kirkpatrick.

Week 8

In this week we looked further into the style of digital technology and the films that can be made using DV camera. A hybrid of genres is created and the concept of realism is questioned. We also look at how to conduct a perfect interview, considering techniques, tips, do's and don'ts.

Aesthetics of Realism

The birth of Digital Technology has led to a new genre of documentary making, a somewhat grey area between the black and white of truth and realism, creating a hybrid that has taken shape and adopted by many modern practitioners. It has a bad reputation of falsehood that follows it everywhere it goes and this leads many to disbelieve any form of media shot on a DV camera due to its breaking of conventional tactics applied by renowned practitioners. That being said it’s also, in some respects, more reliable than traditional methods due to its immediacy and intimacy. With a DV camera you can be anywhere in the world, see an event taking place and whack the camera out and shoot instantly; something you wouldn’t be able to do with standard doc cameras. Plus the ability of mobile filming as well as access to secretive filming also make the DV a reliable source of documentary.

For years documentaries had always been created roughly the same way using similar conventions and rules that all that had knowledge of them followed like an unwritten law. Initially used as a tool for observational filming relying on objectivity and knowledge and established facts to spearhead the content. But over the years it has seen many transformations in various modes, deviating from conventions but not directly breaking any. Since the dawn of the blockbuster back in the mid 70’s there has been an unstoppable juggernaut of yearly movies released during the summer that the world stands still for and awaits, in awe, as cars fly through the sky and explosions come at every turn. This has been so installed into our culture that we accept and expect it, making it (despite the cost) common practice in the industry. The knock on effect from this was that many fiction films now adopt non-fiction aesthetics as it is no longer conforming to do so. This usually leads them down the path of documentaries as they are the most tried and tested form of non-fiction media. So then a hybrid is created, a medium that no longer falls into categories but instead combines them; providing both the reliability and immediacy of DV filming with all the advantages that come with it and the breaking of rules that has become synonymous with DV movies.
The method has become so popular that some prophesise the demise of celluloid and the traditional, grand old filmmaker instead replaced with the young hopefuls equipped with the latest handheld kit. This take on the industry can be looked at a few ways: though a very realistic approach that already has evidence in the boom of DV films that have hit our screens I personally doubt the foresight of the death of legends such as Spielberg and Scorsese. Because whilst there are many handheld, genre hybridising, low budget films about nowadays rarely any of them are, in fact, any good. The simplicity of making these truth splicing films with a device as great as the DV camera has led anyone into the belief that they can create the next masterpiece, usually with terrible results.

But an example of a film that utilises this new aesthetic to perfect effect was The Blair Witch Project (1999), a movie that perhaps is more interesting in how it was made rather than what happens in it. This movie opened the door to endless copycats that tried to mimic the format and recreate what shocked and entertained many viewers before. It is a mockumentary, a subgenre of documentary that knowingly plays on the preconceived boundaries installed into most documentaries make up. The Blair Witch… was huge as it wasn’t obviously faked like most mockumentaries can be. Instead it took a different angle and used many shots that we would believe to be true, such as lingering on one shot for too long-quick editing suggests something was intended to be cut whereas if you leave footage there then the viewer assumes it was unintended. The use of two cameras, one that they were using to make a ‘Making of…’ documentary (more irony perhaps?) and one they were using to shoot their film, makes the audience feel as if the footage has in fact just been discovered and unaltered-this wouldn’t have the same effect with just one camera. It’s in this self-confessed mockery that the creators hope to challenge an audience’s take on reality.

The Interview

It’s important to get the best possible footage from interviews as it can determine how good your documentary can be. One bad interview can cast a shadow over an otherwise seamless doc whilst one great question or clever tactic can make your documentary bigger than you could’ve hoped. There are various styles and approaches in taking interviews and these all generally depend on situations; some styles may be better suited than others in some cases.

Past events recollection-
Asking open ended questions can give the interviewee licence to delve, in detail, about an event that might be essential to your documentary and provide a back story that you were previously unaware of which can add depth to your investigation.
Current events context for story-Asking someone how they feel about a situation can give you some great answers regarding their thoughts and feelings, adding further detail to a previously touched upon point. Sometimes this may even be the point of the documentary, looking at a specific event and gathering information and reactions on it.
Future ideals, what affect the event on subject/issue-Asking about what a person thinks will happen can lead to a perfect conclusion to an interview which may even lead to a perfect ending to a documentary.

Research-Obviously knowing what you’re talking about is essential in any interview but, going past the obvious, research can help when you want to add questions that haven’t been previously discussed; you could react to an answer with some research you did regarding it thus leading to a more informed and detailed quote.
Feeding leading questions-The first question is probably the most important as it sets the tone for the rest of the interviews. Playing too dangerously too soon may make the rest of the interview stop dead in its tracks. Open too safe and the interviewee can take advantage of you and you won’t be able to get what you want out of it. You want to strike the right balance so that the interviewer is relaxed but realises you’re not a pushover.
Reaction-Important for cutaways and adding an emotional element (if needed). Can capture an important image that goes well and can even add more content to the documentary.
Filming walk around location-A pitfall many documentaries make is the ‘talking head’. This is a still shot of a subject answering questions. No more, no less. If you were to film walking around the set/location then the answers may correlate with the imagery that you see in the frame. Also it keeps the documentary going rather than talking heads that seem to slow it down.

Role Play: This can be used when having to deal with particularly sensitive or controversial subjects. For example speaking to a racist or a domestic abuser, certain questions may cause bad reactions and retaliations and role plays can be used to prepare you for the outcome and consider every possible route that the interview could go. This could be used for any interview but is probably more useful when dealing with ones that could go badly.

What we want:
Single, strong and interesting character-
Somebody like this can carry a documentary, a larger than life character that throws out endless quotes and answers that you can actually structure your documentary around rather than feature them in.
An unusual story-People, especially British people, are interesting in things you don’t usually see, something out of the ordinary or something that seems ordinary but with a twist that changes perceptions.
Real Emotion-Despite the fact this can be staged (as long as it’s done well) this factor is crucial in getting the audience to empathise, understand or even hate the subjects of the docs. Nobody is going to care about someone who’s monotone voice and emotionless eyes bore them into a coma.
Photos that add depth-An amazing sound bite should always be accompanied by an amazing photo that adds context and fits with it perfectly. A random shot of a dog barking whilst someone is talking about their relative who has a serious illness isn’t going to work. But a shot of a dog laying by the relative whilst the audio plays over the top has such depth it adds emotional content.

Double-barrelled questions: These can be used very cleverly to gain the best possible response from a subject as you’re asking for more detail and information. It also shows your interest to the subject rather than knocking off mundane question after mundane question. Plus it stops you from constantly asking similar question so close to each other; it gives the subject a chance to talk for a long time. Yet sometimes they can backfire if you word it incorrectly and the subject feels bombarded with coming up with too many answers for one question. I think they should be used but only if needed to help develop an answer and add information.


Know who you’re talking to-So simple yet so easily missed. You don’t want to ask a lowly staff member about how the company is run and you don’t want to tell the boss of said company that it’s an evil corporation. But researching further into who you’re interviewing can lead to more questions to be asked and a better bond with them as you talk about work they’ve done or their hobbies, making them feel at ease.

Chronology of questions-Past, present and future. Sometimes you can go off on a tangent about a particular topic and forget where you last were on the scheduled questions. Having a shape and structure to the questions can keep an interview flowing and help you remember and prepare for what’s coming next.
Never provide an interviewee with questions beforehand-If they know what you’re going to ask them then there’s no catching them off guard, there’s no surprises and therefore no big scoop. Also they can decline you immediately if they are aware what you’re going to ask. That being said some people will not accept an interview unless you show them some questions first and so your hands are tied in this event.
Small Talk-The proof is in the pudding: small talk should be small. No big sweeping conversations and deep, intruding questions before you’ve even begun. Most people would not respond well to this and so any small talk should be kept to a minimum. But it really depends on the interviewee; they may well be chatty and up for having small talk which, if you don’t respond in kind, might put them off. It can be used effectively to build a good relationship that can have good results on the interview.
Listen to the answers-Sometimes multiple questions can be answered in one long monologue by the subject and so if you were to ask a question that they’ve already covered due to you not listening then they would get irritated. It’s easily done if you’re nervous, you are so fixated on getting the question correct and preparing for the next one whilst hoping everything is recording properly that you can quite easily miss what they say. Also they may say something you weren’t expecting and you could ask them to elaborate, thus shining new, unexpected light.
Polite persistence-It’s important to get exactly what you want from an interview and so you try to force an answer and push a question too much but you must always remain polite in doing so as the subject may react angrily if you become frustrated, after all they are doing you a favour. It’s also a good idea to suggest they need to reply if they are unresponsive, saying this documentary may cast them in a bad light lest they accept an interview to give their view.
Ask stupid questions (within reason)-We are media students but our documentaries aren’t solely based on that subject, the topics for our documentaries can vary from rocket science to marine biology most of which we probably wouldn’t have a clue about. So it makes sense to ask questions about something that may have been mentioned that we don’t fully understand. It saves for summarising the point with no idea if it’s relevant or not.
Conversing-Either a perfect tool or the one to absolutely avoid. All depends on the subject and the situation. Sometimes a conversation can be used to put the interviewee at ease and get them to feel comfortable enough to divulge certain information. However some people may not appreciate it, especially if they are being accused of something, and will be very short with you thereafter.
On/off Record-Some things that are said during an interview aren’t always meant to be said as the subject may think the microphone or recording equipment is turned off. Unless they say the immortal words ‘Off the record’ then you are welcome to use that in your documentary. But of course some people don’t want to go on record yet still want to help you and will give you unofficial information that you could use when putting questions to others.
Get evidence-If someone says they have a big scoop that could help you in your documentary then it is essential you get them to provide evidence for these claims, otherwise you could go on a wild goose chase which would waste valuable time.
Next of Kin-If you can’t get directly to the main focus of your subject or you want to add certain content then it’s always a good idea to interview close friends and relatives to provide opinions and, if it’s a difficult subject, some great emotional shots.
Lawyers and Officials-Can give you information that you would have previously been unaware of as well as offering a well-respected and reliable source that the audience can trust to be telling the truth.

Steps to shooting an interview:

1-Do all the research before you go to an interview. Questions that can be easily answered via the internet/libraries don’t need to be asked in interviews unless it’s reaction to specific information. If interviewing a member of a group or company it makes sense to check the website of these as a sort of background check.
2-We aren’t all psychology analysts but some things can be obvious. So it’s important to check the surroundings of the person you’re interviewing if it’s in their own personal space; looking at photos and cleanliness can tell you a lot about a person and therefore provide good photo ops in that context. Shoot the location as it may hold answers you wouldn’t necessarily notice whilst carrying out the interview.
3-Remain calm and polite at all times. Confrontational interviews are not a reality. Yes they can happen but this is in rare circumstances and they probably result in nothing but a bit of a show. Keep an eye on the clock and answer questions if asked but remember the focus is on them and must remain so.
4-Listen (as mentioned previously)
5-Some people will be regulars at interviews and would have already learned the ins and outs that you are trying to utilise. Again, in this case, persistence is key. Rephrase the question and get them to answer it again. A direct non-answer is better than an indirect one.
6-At the end of every interview ask two questions: “Who else should I speak to about this topic?” This can lead to further interviews and more information that you can use in your documentary that you may have not been aware of. “What have I not asked you that I should have asked you?” Some people may give a questionable remark of “I dunno, you’re the interviewer” but hopefully they would be willing to give information that you may have missed.

Further tactics:

Emails-This is probably the most likely way you will get an interview in this day and age but it’s important to adhere to certain guidelines when approaching email conversations. Be sure not to trap yourself by privately messaging one thing and blogging something completely different. If you intend to quote from an email make sure you state that this is your intention initially.
Empower them-If you don’t understand what an interviewee’s angle is then something as simple as asking their take on things and how they can be solved can help you gain an understanding.
Endure awkward silences-Especially for typically sensitive or controversial questions that you wish to ask rather than asking the question, getting the response then carrying on with the next question it might be worthwhile waiting to see what happens.
Ask for what you need-Be clear in what you’re asking from your interviewee. This stems back to the preparation before you hold the interview but sometimes it’s unavoidable that you don’t get exactly what you want. So sometimes it’s worth biting the bullet and asking point blank what it is you require of them. Some, not all, people will happily oblige.

By Daniel Ashfield

 Week 9

Nick Broomfield

Intro to Biggie & Tupac


The sounds used in the opening of Biggie and Tupac by Nick Broomfield are very important in portraying to the viewer an eerie atmosphere. The sounds of police radios and sirens as well as the high pitched tune that seems to get louder and louder build and build which put the viewer into the film, as if they are there and experiencing the scene themselves which is quite nerving. The voice of god narration that introduces Biggie and Tupac is very informal as if he is having a chat to the viewer, making you instantly relax and feel a connection with Nick. This style of narration is very interesting as the voice is introduced to us before we meet the person, however I feel that this technique works best in this type of documentary where the narrator appears in the actual film, making the viewer feel even more of a closer connection with Nick.

Montage archive footage

The montage archive footage used in the opening of the film really compliments the soundscape used of the sirens as the images are of the real crime scene, giving the viewer a more intimate view of the real scene as if you are present whereas in reality if you were actually there the images and scene would be much more restricted. An example of how the film tells the viewer this, is when the policeman's voice tells lookers on to keep back and stay away from the area.

Decisive moment filming event driven

The way in which Nick uses himself, the camera and crew to try to get across to the viewer just how hard it is to get information out of people can be, creates an urge and interest to the viewer. An example of this is when he says 'I had no idea how many more meals we would have to eat before we finally got Russell's interview.' It makes the viewer want to find out the answers to his questions even more and when they finally do it will be more rewarding, as they understand the struggle more. The camera crew is also used to try to make the person being interviewed answer the questions or act in a nice manner because they know they are being filmed and it may be used. When Nick goes to meet Tupac's friend who shows him Tupac's old house the camera is very obvious, showing a quick pan from the two shot to the shot of the house, I feel that this is because nick wanted to capture real reactions instead of meeting the guy and then re-shooting the meeting, he is not afraid of reminding the viewer that they are watching a film.  

Biggie and Tupac part 2


The informal manner and quick fire, interrogation nature of the questions that Nick asks Tupac's father is to try to get the right answer out of him, the one he wants him to say. As he knows what he wants him to say before he asks him the questions. This is also done because he wants to get as many questions out as he can and make them sound like they are part of the same question. I think that Nick introduces the question through voice of god because he is telling the viewer what he wants to hear but not the subject, he doesn't want to obviously make the father agree to what he says. He wants him to get there by himself, leading them along the path to the right answer. The informal nature of the questioning seems to give the interviewee a false sense of security and makes the interviewee more comfortable. The filmmaker in the shot gives a more informal feeling to the interview and shows that it is a film and how he wants to get to the bottom of the story. He also kept the tape rolling while dealing with problems such as police and when interviews got interrupted to try to keep important parts of sound and video within the film. A common mistake is turning the equipment off and then missing a vital piece of information. If the crew walk into shot while an interview is going on you must keep filming so you don't stop the flow and so you can capture everything and not miss an important moment.


http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xjv0l_biggie-and-tupac-documentary-pt2_music - Links to films

Werner Herzog

While researching into Werner Herzog I found an article on the Rolling Stone magazine (http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/the-killers-team-with-werner-herzog-for-live-concert-webcast-20120829 ) The article was about how in August this year, the American Express Un-staged series was doing it's 11th instalment, pairing famous musicians with well acclaimed directors to create live concerts streamed onto YouTube and VEVO. 'The band chose Herzog for his unique ideas and the filmmaker seems to be taking his work seriously.'- A quote from the article. Over the years other live streams had other famous directors such as David Lynch who worked with Duran Duran and Hamish Hamilton who worked with Usher as well as Gary Oldman and Jack White.

I found the article very intriguing so I decided to have a look at as many of the video's as I could from this year as well as the past years. The concept was very interesting to watch and I am sure that each of the directors felt the pressure to perform with much planning before the live stream. The lights, sets and staging were all thought about in-depth and with a lot of passion. I found that the shows were visually rich with the use of colours and visuals on screens behind performances working in synergy.   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=pubn3UHiCfQ - Link to the article

Death Row - Werner Herzog (TV series)

Death Row is a documentary series on Channel 4, follows Herzog uncovering the stories of inmates in America as they await their execution over the period of a year. I watched the first episode of the first series, centered on the inmate Hank Skinner who was sentenced to death 18 years ago for multiple fatal stabbings. The documentary series portrays to the viewer what it feels like to know how and when you will die, which is a very surreal and haunting prospect.

I felt challenged morally when watching this documentary as I found I constantly changed my opinions throughout the film. One moment I would be against the inmates and feel disgusted by what they allegedly did and then the next I felt empathy for them and wanted a better life for them. I think that the documentary is very engaging and thought provoking in this way.  

I noticed that Herzog used similar techniques as the aforementioned director Nick Broomfield, in the way they ask questions through interviews. They both seemed to ask questions that many others may not get away with, they seem to develop a trust and bond between their interviewees. In this case Werner was only allowed a maximum of 1 hour per visit which was approx. every 5 months so he had to cut in when Hank waffled about a subject that was unimportant, a very brave move from the director, in order to get the answers he needs and wants from his primary. An example of an answer that he got from Hrank was ‘Time really has no meaning here’ which was then matched with a poetic still shot of a flock of birds flying over the prison, representing their freedom and the inmates restriction behind bars. The match of the words and sound in the piece and the imagery is inspiring and beautiful, a specific example from the documentary is when the prisoners talk about the windows being unclean and then there is a shot out of a window not in focus, in the POV of a prisoner.

The main spine of the documentary is as follows – Intro to primary, we get to know them as a person. Their past is then shown and the viewer starts to understand why the subject is in prison. Driving shots are shown to the viewer to convey the journey the primary has been on or will soon be going on to the infirmary. This is also because the genre of this documentary is almost an autobiographical documentary, following the director on a journey of discovery, following the source-path-goal schema. Finally the film tells the viewer what happened to the primary after filming to end the episode, looking in the past.

Post productions sounds added to the film such as dogs barking with no visuals implies the atmosphere of a rough neighborhood to the audience. I enjoyed noticing this technique as many documentaries will match images and sounds together but this technique trusts in the audience to make their own sensible judgments through the use of sound instead. Images and video is used in the documentary which got me thinking about our own trailer for our documentary and the film itself and how important it is that still images are given movement to create flow through the film. It could be argued that this is an example of audience manipulation as well as the non-diegetic emotive music played over some of the images of Hank the primary to get the viewer to empathize with him. Another example of Werner trying to tap into the viewer’s emotions is when he uses emotive music over the top of sad dialogue, what gets Hank through prison is his ‘dreams’, audiences love to hear about people’s dreams and aspirations.

The techniques in the film really inspired me because of how emotional it made me as a viewer and how I empathized with the character, I hope to be able to create these similar results within our film. Another example of how empathy is created is when Hank talks about his great love for his children, the passion he has for them really comes through to the viewer as well as how Hank comments on how he just wishes he could feel that love and warmth in prison from his family. It made me question whether the prison system in America is very ethical and how humans still have the right to be loved and love others even when they have done wrong.

To conclude I felt the film was extremely engaging with the viewer and very thought provoking. The end scene is tracking shots of the journey that Hank would inevitably take to the infirmary in his final minutes of life, with his voice over the top talking about the irony of the tie down team. The irony is that the team tie prisoner down and seem scary and as if they themselves are murders, however they are allowed to euthanize people who have committed the same act as them, it was a great point to end on.  

By Zara Kirkpatrick.

Week 10 

What is Animadocs?

An Animadocs also known as an Animated Documentary is a type of genre where the context of animation and documentary are put together as one, the problem with these types of documentaries is people tend to confuse themselves with documentaries about movie or television animation history which revolve around the idea of a passage or segment taken from longer work. 

Animation documentaries have been round for quite a while with the first recognised example in relation to this genre is American artist Winsor Mckay's 1918 film which lasted for 12 minutes called the 'The Sinking of the Lusitania', this was about a boat being struck by two torpedoes fire upon from a German U-boat, it was stylised around an animated silent film deliberately produced to create a anti German advertisement during the time of World War One. It was published to show the audience what happened at that particular moment including the casualty list informing them the tragic event, it was filmed in documentary style where the modern copy was released in January 1999 for DVD rental. 

During the 1920's animation or anything seen as animated was used as an educational purpose plus particular social guidance films. Society were very awkward about the sense of murder, explosions and anything highly dangerous due to the effect on the smaller youngsters, animation illustrated a brief abstract of these certain events and made them seem forgiving. Examples of these contexts are Evolution in 1925 or The Einstein Theory of Relativity in 1923. 

Furthermore the influence of animation caused companies such as Mosaic Films to start promoting and distributing Animadocs but specify in Animated short films in the United kingdom since the year 2003, they broke onto the scene with the award-winning series 'Animated Minds' which was first transmitted in November 2003 on channel 4. It was about survivors of mental illnesses mixed with fascinating but amusing graphics to climb inside the minds of the mentally distressed. Mosaic also distributed a animation film called 'Seeking Refuge' produced by the BBC is about the experience young refugees living in the UK and what struggles they come across in their life in the country. The style was completely animated but with all five testimonies explaining their life but worked with the animators who told the story visually.

Waltz with Bashir the first feature length animated documentary advertised directed by Ari Folman is an Autobiographical feature about Ari Folman, Director Israel has an appointment at a bar during the night where he bumps into a friend from the passed who is inflicted by persistent nightmares from the war in Lebanon in the early 1980's. Since then Ari had no recollection of his passed until the next day after meeting his friend he started having a flashback with him laying in the water (point of view shot), it was a mute image, demanding himself for it was him,  just a young solider with two comrades either side of him, once they take the lonely isolated walk up the beach into the city outskirts of beirut they come across hordes of women heading in the opposite direction. Afterwards he has the urge to discover the truth about this specific part in history he was attending by travelling around the world meeting his comrades who was with him in Lebanon. 

Throughout the documentary their are certainly a few hints of anti-Christianity they may not seem to striking but still little stabs in which the director Ari has managed to get away with implications of his production because the advantage of animation is it can hide it's characters to make the most condemnatory statements without attracting libel charges and other retribution.

Animation films are getting popular and popular each year, filmmakers especially are noticing the awarenesses of the audience recently in animated documentaries. The artistic side of production grows on the audience by offering a new level of visuals this is why documentary festivals such as Liepzig build a higher audience each year with their annual openings in Germany. It was one of the first known German festivals founded in 1955 also the first independent film festival in East Germant but in the past it was called '1st All-German leipzig Festival of Cultural and Documentary Films'. A separate competition at the same festival was added in 2004 specialising in Animated films for the main reason to allow contact to the industry professionals.  

By Joe Taphouse.

Week 11 


To view the diagram I created on the right in full size, press the PDF link below the image please.  

The diagram is based on tips and guidelines on how to put together documentary scripts/ proposals  & treatments.

week 11 Documentary scripting.pdf week 11 Documentary scripting.pdf
Size : 1190.193 Kb
Type : pdf

Below are some exemplar proposals and treatments which I have annotated using the notes I created previously.

Examples of a documentary proposals 
Power of their song Proposal annotated.pdf Power of their song Proposal annotated.pdf
Size : 583.083 Kb
Type : pdf
Whimsy Proposal Annotated.pdf Whimsy Proposal Annotated.pdf
Size : 811.869 Kb
Type : pdf

Example of a documentary treatment 

My Hippies treatment annotated.pdf My Hippies treatment annotated.pdf
Size : 291.441 Kb
Type : pdf

Documentary treatment found on: http://ebookbrowse.com/my-hippies-documentary-treatment-pdf-d21385756

By Monica Gameiro


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