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Task 3: Unit 27 LO2.

Conventions of a documentary
Identifying modes of documentary is a way of categorising different types of
documentary and is similar to genre categories in feature films. There are overlaps in
the different modes and documentaries will often feature conventions from more than
one mode.

Expository documentaries speak directly to the viewer, often in the form of an
authoritative commentary employing voiceover or titles, proposing a strong argument
and point of view. These films are rhetorical,
and try to persuade the viewer.
Key Examples of Expository tradition in
documentary include: work of John Grierson
and many nature documentaries.

Documentary maker follows the person around to observe the events that happen in
their life. The purpose is to simply observe life
Techniques Editing: Post-production editing using a notebook-style format is used to
emphasise the main parts of the show and also makes it more interesting visually for
the viewer Sound: Music helps to engage the viewer Camera Shots: A variety is
used especially long shots.
Location shooting- handheld cameras.
Long takes dominate Synchronous (direct)
sound recording No voiceover (in its purest
form) No interviews Documentary makers
presence is hidden Subjects pretend they
are not being filmed. (The Swenka, Etre
Avoir, Mitchell & Kenyon)

All interactive documentaries by definition draw the filmed people and events
into direct contact with the film maker.
The content of the interactive documentary is based primarily on interviews, which
draw out specific comments and responses from those who are filmed.
An interactive documentary that is made well will allow the filmed people to express
their opinions and views, and the film maker may juxtapose one opinion with a
contrary opinion, therefore offering the spectator a balanced view.
Sometimes the film maker is the main person on screen, which may serve to hold
the documentary together.
The film maker may appear on screen and will,
formally or informally, ask the interviewee
questions. Here, both film maker and
interviewee share the same space and the
spectator can see them interacting with one

Interact with subject; interviews dominate but tend to be formal- literally on the run
questioning; use of archive material- stills, news; footage, newspaper headlines,
letters etc.; Location shooting- handheld camera; long takes dominate; synchronous
(direct) sound recording; voiceover- usually by the documentary maker; documentary
maker is visible to the audience- intervenes and participates in the action. (Louis
Therox, Michel Moore)
The films of Michael Moore - here the filmmaker directly engages with the material
being addressed, he becomes a character in the documentary - an essential part of
the subject
Nick Broomfield's work, such as Kurt and Courtney (1998), Living with Michael
Jackson (2004) Bashir

Reflexive Mode calls attention to the assumptions and conventions that govern
documentary filmmaking. Increasing our awareness of the contractedness of the
film's representation of reality.
The processes of negotiation between filmmaker and viewer become the focus of
attention for the reflexive mode . . . we now attend to the filmmaker's engagement
with us, speaking not only about the historical world but about the problems and
issue of representing it as well.
The reflexive mode is the most self-conscious and self-questioning mode of
Reflexive documentary sets out to readjust the assumptions and expectations of the
audience, not to add new knowledge to existing categories
It relies on techniques that jar us.

Performative Documentary maker (and crew) interacts with the subject. The
documentary maker comments on the process of making the documentary. The
documentary is often shaped in to the narrative of an investigation or search - which
their may be no satisfactory conclusion to. It addresses the audience in an emotional
and direct way. Subject matter often to do with identity (gender, sexuality)- rather
than factual subjects.

The producers of nonfiction or documentary forms of media base their arguments on
claims of truth, actuality and authenticity.
As viewers, we expect certain conventions of these kinds of media whether they are
based upon the codes of journalism, on one end of the spectrum, or the norms of
reality television programming, on the other end--with various types of documentary
film falling in between.
What do we expect from these types of media forms, veiled in "truth," authenticity
and objectivity (for the most part)? The norms for nonfiction film and television
include unscripted dialogue, unstaged action, real people (i.e., not actors playing a
fictitious role), and naturally-occurring behavior and events, including natural
emotions. We may expect the narration or reporting to be scripted, but not the
embedded events themselves.

Commonly known as a Docudrama, it is a television or movie dramatisation of
events based on fact.
Representation of actual historical events
Focus on the facts of the event, as they are known
Use of literary and narrative techniques to flesh out the bare facts of an event in
history to tell a story
Some degree of license is often taken with minor historical facts for the sake of
enhancing the drama
A good docudrama does not abuse dramatic license, and avoids overt commentary
and explicit assertion of the creator's own point of view or beliefs.