Documentary ‘mini-task’ What is a documentary? A documentary is an audio visual presentation on a certain topic; it can be information about rare animals to information about crime rates. It’s these unique, well-constructed presentations which are named as a documentary. Expository Documentaries Expository documentaries use disembodied and authoritative voiceovers, the voiceover tells the audience what it is they are watching. For example in David Attenborough’s Documentary (life in cold blood) we see many wonderful and interesting animals and what they do, however we don’t see much of David himself. This is because its an expository documentary and its his rich male voice which tells us what we are looking at and what’s happening within the documentary. Observational Documentaries Observation documentaries attempt to simply observe lived life with minimum interaction. A good example of an observational documentary is Rough Aunties which was filmed in 2008 by Kim Longinotto were she follows a group of inspiring women in South Africa who are fighting against the “rampant sexual abuse of poverty-stricken children”. Observational documentaries appear to be just someone filming what they see, this gives the viewer a clear view what it’s like for the people being observed and the viewer can have their own opinion on the matter as observation documentaries don't pick sides they just show the world what it’s like through their eyes. Interactive Documentaries An interactive documentary is very full on as the filmmaker’s presence is evident, this type of documentary will include interviews as the filmmaker will ask people questions. Therefore, with there being questions, arguments can spark and they will also be part of the documentary. A good example of an interactive documentary is Shadowlands, this was proposed and written by Elaine Hills in Feb 2012, it is a documentary about the effects of the Fukishima Daiichi Nuclear disaster which continues to effect peoples lives. The filmmaker interviews a few families on their opinions and how it affects them individually. Obviously to be able to make a documentary like this you need to be able to have people willing to be interviewed therefore you need their consent, also releases and permissions can be an issue.
Reflexive Documentaries Reflexive Documentaries tend to be the most truthful as they don't hide anything and focus on realism. Documentary texts are often exposed and the makers also experiment with them. The styles of reflexive documentaries are often associated with experimental documentaries. A good example for this type of documentary is Gambling in Las Vegas which is by Louis Theroux who is well known for interactive and reflexive documentaries. This type of documentary manages to make the audience more aware of the problems the documentary is trying to get across; this is because instead of reading facts you are actually seeing the effects and reactions take place in front of you. Performative Documentaries Performative documentaries consist of individual experiences and mixed feelings, these documentaries give us a perspective on the world that is not our own, it can be very personal and can differ from a prisoner’s life to what’s its like to be tramp. A good example of this type of documentary is Tongues United this documentary gives us an insight what it’s like to be black and gay, and Marlon Riggs’s story on how he knew he was gay and how he managed with it. Within these types of documentaries the use of dramatization is used because it shows us a different side to what we are used to, also re-enactments are used to show scenes which could not be recorded, they do this to show how something may of happened so we as a viewer can picture it better. Conclusion My conclusion of a documentary is that it should be factual and always tell the truth / give perspective from both sides. As a documentary film maker you should always show the truth and hide nothing from the viewer, when making a documentary I don’t think the ‘ends justify the means’ this is because I don’t think you should be able to lie, or manipulate to make a successful documentary. A documentary should be clear, well presented and have a truthful bond with the viewer, it’s this which makes a documentary a documentary.