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Research Analysis

By John Pierre

The project that I will be making is a documentary about racism the idea is to raise awareness and understand and questions people’s attitudes towards racism, I would like to also find out about immigration and how difficult it can be to an asylum seeker I feel by speaking to lots of ethic and social origins of people I feel I can gather views and attitudes.

For this research analysis I’ve been asked to critically analyse three professionals in that feature in the media product that I am trying to produce, the three I’ve chosen are Russell Brand who is a very intelligent and articulate individual who is extremely charming when speaking or interacting with an audience in any form he’s also not scared to questions people’s attitudes in order to show awareness and stupidity.

The next person I’ve chosen to analyise is Jonathan Ross because he is a great TV chat show host as isn’t afraid to depict himself as the fool in order build a bond with the audience, he’s also very confident and doesn’t come across as star struck when interviewing well know Hollywood stars because he’ll use there gimmick to add comedy for example when Will Smith was on the show during the time of the film ALI he proposed that him and Will should have a rumble this for Jonathan was just to build confidence and make it show the interview wasn’t in the normal format that you’d always see in interviews with stars.

As the idea of my finial major project is to make a documentary about an issue, which has the nation dived, as people are undecided on

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representation of the British public views and opinions on the subject of passive or intentional racism.

The documentaries that I find myself watching the most are the ones that are shown on BBC 3 show the ones that appeal to me the most are based on culture and unfortunate circumstances. In particular one presenter that caught my eye was Stacey Dooley because she is very charming and almost angelic this is because of the way she connects through her body language and mannerisms towards her audience with a soft voice. She uses emotion and passion to connect so when she flies out to under developed countries she gathers views, to find out why people feel under pressure this is something that I’ll be doing therefore watching her documentaries give me and idea on how to treat people with delicate procures and how to challenge the people who have such strong beliefs on issues that may be conflicting to the general publics attitudes. As this documentary was based on racism I thought best to watch a documentary based on the topic of racism. This would enable me to gain articulate opinions and to use the footage as an aid when it comes to editing the final piece and how to structure the documentary. One documentary that I viewed was Aryan Brotherhood and in short this showed me the horrific views from individuals locked away in maximum security prisons. The main point that the group seem to be making is not only being of another race wrong and not pure but that they objectify anyone of a darker complexion to be animal, although no one can chose there ethnicity or the point in time in which they're born. The documentary also showed me that personal experience throughout there lives had an impact on there views. They also heavily focused on making there group into a business through drugs and the use of protection for other inmates as this particular group was run from the prison. They also targeted certain people based on there background this enabled them to make approaches for new members, as they would look to expand. The use of imagery on there bodies would also help define rank. They

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had trademark shamrock with 666 with A B either side of the shamrock tattooed on there body, they also used the image of a Viking to depict the influence they had enforcing the statement that was implied through violence. When planning out this project I had to take a look back at the technology that people would have had and how television has evolved therefore making it easier to have self made television as the generations progress, as people are being breed into a digital world therefore making it harder to control and censor what the masses see the can lead to documentaries that expose important issues such as child labor. Back in the 80’s and 90’s equipment such as a video camera where considered luxuries and the only way to get your voice heard was through speeches, campaigns or through press releases.

In today’s in world technology has evolved to the point where everyone and anyone can own a video camera and tripod and making these interesting films to raise awareness on under reported issues and now where in the digital world social media controls peoples views instead of corporate media companies that’d brain was the people as now people can document themselves through social media. An example of technology helping people release that it’s now in the hands of the people is the Kony 12 campaign, which has gone out to the masses and its made people in politics take action by making it a government issues which is a very difficult without signing a patrician.

The CEO of News Corporation Rupert Murdoch gave a speech in 2008 about the changing times of the media a bright future it has although he was a quite reflective of the old ways.

“When consumers like you are deciding which content you want to see and when you want it”

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this shows that even the CEO in News Corporation is beginning to realize the potential that modern technology and has almost accepted that the media can no longer control what people see because everything is online making it accessible twenty four hours a day seven days a week. He also went on to say,

“To stay ahead of the competition a media company need to diversify geographically so it can reach more people, it needs to diversify by more platforms which is why we brought MySpace”

This indicates that a new digital technology enhanced with social media will be the future to controlling the masses.

The codes and conventions of documentary all depends on the market and the message that you’re trying to convey. This will determine the content that show and how far you take it all depends on purpose for example, if you create a war related documentary you’ll find the presenter will spend time with both sets of groups that our fighting but they will concentrate on certain issues for example if they’re rich it will focus on political matters as this is usually their reasoning. However when time is spent with the other group which you’ll find is usually out gunned and poverty stricken they will focus on living standards this is done to show contrast and keep the viewer interested. They usually follow certain subjects and constantly challenge people on the spot as this questions there integrity.

When creating a documentary it’s also code for the presenter to build a connection this usually will ease the contributor and then they may expose more than you first thought which is often vital. Also when building trust with you contributors, it’s important not to violate the trust by misrepresenting them as this would be unethical and damaging to your outcome. An example would be making a film about a person from a different social class and making fun of them once you’ve made your

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product. The reason for this would be as you would of mislead the character that you chose to study as you would of told them it’s for a different purpose other than the one you intended.

Another code that each presenter must consider is how you’re going to film the contributor as you may want to use a full crew consisting of two or more camera men multiple sound engineers. Although when you film on your own you create a more intimate atmosphere which can lead to more exposed feelings about personal or conflicting issues. However there are pros and cons with both it all depends on the overall object that you’re trying to achieve I found that most documentaries related to culture seem to use a very small crew of three or four people. An example would be segments in Idiot abroad as the whole focus of the show is on culture and Karl Pilkington.

When making a documentary the camera shots that are chosen are also vital to the succession of the video as the shots chosen can invoke emotion. For example if you’re doing a documentary on BMX riders you would try to get camera angles that seem dysfunctional and unorthodox this would refer to the atmosphere that you would expect to see on screen, as they’d use lots of different colors to depict and urban feel. Therefore making a documentary in a town centre you would expect to see a variety of shots such as mid shot when the presenter is giving a speech or making gestures. Another shot frequently used would be panning and tilts as they act as filers but set a scene.

Each documentary should feature real life footage as most are nonfiction the reason for this is to make them seem real to raise a point or awareness this also adheres to the rule of not misrepresenting your contributor as this could cause you to be involved in a legal battle.

The setting you chose to interview people with is also key to the fluidity as it ties in with the idea of mise en scene of the documentary this is

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because it sets a scene and entices the meaning of what the interviewee is saying making it seem real for example you wouldn’t have a school teacher giving an interview at a race track as it would take away the meaning a distract the viewers’ attention to what was being said. Another positive of picking the right environment is the audio that you will pick up for example if you interview someone at their home its likely to be quite which provides clear audio in contrast to interviewing somebody next to the motorway. Along with making the audio right and the setting right the way the lighting is set up can also be key unless you’re going for a realistic raw footage approach this would work for war related drama or sports related as the viewer needs embrace the audio and visual as one.

Voiceovers are often used as they can give an authoritative and personal perspective, voiceovers usually contain key facts or tell the viewer what there about to witness on screen this can be effective as they can act as rhetorical questions to questions the viewers thought on the particular subject.

The best documentaries usually feature interviews with experts as this adds to the realism of the issue or point that you’re trying to make people agree to, although the use of experts can invoke a mass of crowd opinions and views. However their views can be crucial to your point or show another side of the issue, that you’re informing people about. They’re also a norm that we expect to see as they show a subjective view and authenticate the documentary.

The use of colour and text in documentaries are often a cheap way of conveying a message through anchorage to footage or images these can also as filers whilst people give the viewer a voiceover there effective because they’re something that you’d expect to see on a regular everyday news report as the text they used usually feature stats.

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The use of sound can be very effective to the feel of the documentary they can also tell a story or set a mood this could be with the contributor or the setting of the location for example in the show An Idiot Aboard the music that they use to depict Karl is very childish as he comes across as very naïve. The use of diejetic and non-diejetic sound can influence a feeling that is felt during a documentary. For example when you interview a scientist you would use a very futuristic or political soundtrack as to oppose a urban pop sound track as the non-diejetic sound enforces meaning.

Every documentary must adhere to is preparation as you don’t want to turn up to a location without the interviewee present and not knowing the questions you will be asking so phoning ahead and using social media or the internet to prepare the interviewee. This can also relate to documentation such as contributor release forms or risk assessments doing this will make you seem professional and keep you from getting in trouble.

The narrative of the documentary can also be vital as this is something that the audience will pick up or and they will instantly realize whether its linear or non-linear meaning will the documentary tell a story from beginning to end or when the documentary is structured in a nonlinear format they will often move around different viewpoints but this can often confused people or take away the meaning as your having absorb lots of information at once which can discourage people to continue to watch. The approach that I’ve gone for is a multi-strand narrative because it fits the idea of my finial major project. The advantage with this is that it provides variety within the documentary keeping them interested and wanting to find out more from each story, although this provides a disadvantage in the way that the viewer might become disinterested as they’ll become confused I believe that it fits the bill for my particular project as it based on views and opinions bouncing of each other I believe this will be effective as it will provide the viewer with time to think about each issue leaving them in suspense.

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This is a quote from a website that I found online on how a documentary can be formed

“In our car history example, we would start off with who built the first automobile and what that car looked like people's reaction to automobiles at that time. Then, we would go through the changes to automobiles and people's attitudes”

This shows that although the narrative is linear it has elements that make it a multi-strand narrative at the same time as they are choosing to keep the topic the same but alter the focus. The reason they do this is to keep the viewer interested and make it so they provide as much information about the subject as they can.

When making documentary’s you’ll find that unless they’re about crime and punishment they’re often open and there as a source to educate people as they frequently ask you questions to make you think and educate yourself on the issue, The reason that crime and punishment documentaries can become closed is due to the impending result at the end of the show, the reason this is effective is that it provides the viewer with an end result and it is a convention of that genre of documentary.

The importance of the climax and equilibrium can be the difference from the documentary being a pass with the audience or a fail as people like to the story come to a justified end. For example if you’re doing a documentary on the war you’ll find that the running enigma that keeps people interested could be the topic for example World War two and the patriotism would be the enigma the climax would be the battle and the equilibrium would be the positive ending results where the British

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win. This is the same within documentary because the topic that you chose should be one that keeps the viewer interested therefore acting as the enigma and the climax could be a confrontation that could be impending within the documentary then the equilibrium would be a feel good ending. The representation within documentary must show reality but people who see the documentary and accept the documented facts might not always have the right opinion due to the information fed as the issue or person could be misrepresented which can cause a lot of unrest and you’ll come under a lot of scrutiny for people as this is unethical. The way to counter this is to make an unbiased documentary based on facts and statistical date but to also add the right attitudes ideas into the piece. This can all be determined on the film maker’s views as they will be the ones to choose the questions and pick sides this is something that you want to viewer to do for their self as they can contain social or other uneasy topics.

This is an incident where The Queen was misrepresented by the BBC and they had to deal with complaints and issue an official apology.

“ The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has apologised to Queen Elizabeth II and photographer, Annie Leibovitz, after a trailer for a documentary suggested she had walked out of a portrait sitting when the photographer asked her to remove her crown. The trailer shows a clip of the photographer telling the Queen, "I think it will look better without the crown because the garter robe is so..." The Queen responded with "Less dressy! What do you think this is?" The following clip shows the Queen walking down a corridor saying, "I'm not changing anything. I've had enough dressing like this, thank you very much." When this got out the Queen denied that she had walked out because the photographer asked her to take of her crown, and she went on to say that she was displeased as this could falter her reputation. The BBC

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concedes that this piece of footage was a trailer and wasn’t meant to show the queen leaving. The reason this could have been dangerous is because it would have depicted The Queen in a light that could stir and massive debate on the Royal family. Therefore it is important to make sure that you depict personal rightly to stop them being exposed to stereotypical opinions and views. When making a documentary it’s vital that you try not to stereotype people as this can defer people from your show. Stereotyping is where you generalise a group or race of people with prejudiced attitudes and thoughts. For example there is a stereotype that all Pakistani people own corner shops and smell awful now most people don’t think like this as its false but when you’re making a show on an ethnic minority it’s always good to be a neutral therefore people can hang themselves and it won’t affect you. This is an extract from an article that I read and it’s about the portrayal of Native Americans in Western films “As the portrayals of Native characters—either as primitive, violent and deceptive or else as passive and full of childlike obedience—extended to TV, novels and comics, they became familiar, comfortable signposts for much of Western civilization whenever it needed to acknowledge the Aboriginal presence. Since few people, especially in larger urban centres, actually came into contact with Indigenous populations, these portrayals, however inaccurate, had all the more impact. Though popular U.S. films rarely looked north of the border, these stereotypes etched themselves just as deeply into the Canadian psyche.” This is something that quite often within the genre of knowledge with peoples as they a breed to believe that Cowboys did everybody a great service although you study it deeper it becomes quite interesting. This exact tell us that the native Americans are depicted as “Primitive” and “Violent” this would suggest and be the reasoning that when on screen the Cowboys are all educated and the Native Americans are following a caveman story. Although this isn’t true that’s how they’ve been depicted on our screens for years therefore we now just assume that Native

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Americans are uneducated and violent due to films in which they ambush the American Cowboys. Therefore when documentaries are made in modern day they have to fit the open-minded opinions and views as that’s the current mind set people have.

The absence of social class with documentary can also make people question the reality of your product for example if you were filming in Hackney East London you’d expect to see a vast minority of people and a vast amount of people from different social classes therefore if you went and made a documentary based on the area and you made it so everybody was upper class people it would be a misrepresentation of the demographic and the absence of social class would be evident. When producing a documentary about an issue such as life styles or religions its always worth making sure you included all ethnic groups and all social classes as this not all provides the viewer with the reality and the information but also produces a fair outlook. “Social documentary photography or concerned photography may often be devoted to 'social groups' with socio-economic and cultural similarities, showing living or working conditions perceived as shameful, discriminatory, unjust or harmful. Examples include child labour, child neglect, and homelessness, poverty among segments of society, impoverished children and the elderly and hazardous working conditions. The poor, the social outcasts, or lower classes are portrayed in compassionate observation. The documentary power of the images is associated with the desire for political and social change.” This extract focus on what is to be expected and how documentaries based on social class is to be carried out or handled before distribution to a mass audience. This has now become the norm within documentary as they’re to educate and provide information to people and to sometimes advertise help but this just emphasise the point of social class. This can also be turned in to a negative prospective where the upper classes go on account to say they have no sympathy for the working class or a positive where they help the working class to make the show a feel good factor the reason they do this is to tell a story depict people in a certain way to give of a image.

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In conclusion to my research I’ve found that my documentary on racism will be on that features a multi-strand but open narrative with each social class and each ethnic group to be depicted as a neutral as this will show the true feelings. The documentary will portray everyone no matter of religion or beliefs as an equal and this could be a credit to the enigma of the documentary as I want to make the piece as real as possible. Through analysing my competitors I’ve realised that coming up with a passionate persona or simply being yourself can be of great help to the piece as it will provide and show people what you think about certain issues. The approach and the way you monitor people also needs to be kept as professional as possible to keep the viewer interested and to follow the codes of practice within documentary as they’re there to inform people.

Bibliography as followed: Dated 30/3/12

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13 _misrepresentation_in_documentary portrayals.cfm

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