Thursday, 18 June 2015

Conventions of a Documentary

There are numerous conventions of documentaries, obviously changing depending on the genre of the document itself. Here are a few that range across almost all of the genres.

Voice Over
Voice overs are generally used to give extra information that is not initially shown just through the footage. In most cases the voice overs are authoritative, giving the viewers a sense of them having an extended knowledge of the subject. Voice overs can be varied in terms of style, in some cases they can be more serious and other times they can be more comical, this always depends on the theme and genre of documentary but it can have several different effects that bring great success to the documentary. Example of documentary film makers that use voice overs within their documentaries are Louis Theroux and David Attenborough, these are both very different with their styles of documentaries but they both use voice overs to achieve the same effect. Within David Attenborough's documentary "Planet Earth" he uses voice overs to describe actions on the screen in a much wider detail, both informing and entertaining the audience. Louis Theroux doesn't seem to use voice overs to inform his audience as much, however he does use it to entertain, in some cases using comedy and sarcasm to do so.

We intend on using this convention within our documentary in a more humorous way, this is because the theme of our documentary comes across quite funny in general.

Real Footage of Events
Documentaries are generally non-fiction representations of the idea, and the reason for this is due to the fact that most of them use Real Footage of Events, this is basically the opposite of set ups and aims to achieve the most natural form of footage and as close to real life as possible. These are generally used in order to make things more believable, and to gain the viewers' trust and as a result entertain them much more. A specific example of a documentary that uses Real Footage of Events is Louis Theroux and the Nazis, throughout this there is footage of Louis speaking with some of the Nazi people and at some points being subliminally threatened to the point where it doesn't appear safe for him to be there. Due to Louis' reputation people knew that the footage being shown was actually real, and not set up in any way.

This will be a crucial part of our documentary as we want to make sure it is as believable as possible and that people are going to be able to relate to it fully.

Archive Footage
This is the use of footage that has previously been filmed, not specifically for the use of the documentary it is currently being used for, however it is still in the same subject and works well for the storyline. These pieces of footage have to be shot prior to the documentary shooting to actually be classed 'archive' this can actually be anything from a day to right back when cameras where first invented. The effect this has on the documentary is that it gives it a broader range of information and also some form of historical context. It helps the film maker get information that he may not have been able to get himself so it can make things much easier to a certain extent. An example of where archive footage is used is 'One Night in Turin' a documentary about football. The footage used is actual footage from the game, that was shot years ago, but is used again in this documentary to give a better idea of what happened and as a result have a much wider coverage.

We plan to use archive footage within our documentary to give a bit more information about the students, we will try and find Harry playing a rugby game and Sami performing a stage show. This will make sure the audience know their backgrounds.

Interviews are a core part of documentaries and are used in 95% of all of them that are produced. The interview normally consists of the documentary film maker asking the subject questions, and the response is then followed by another question. This can be done in several different ways, the Interviewer can sometimes be on screen, asking the questions in a much more personal manner, or off screen and the subject answers the questions to the person standing behind the camera. The purpose of an interview within a documentary is to add another layer of information about the topic, they are normally done with someone who is heavily linked with the idea of the documentary itself. For example, Louis Theroux 'Behind Bars' constantly has interviews with the Guards and Prisoners, who are both heavily linked with the theme of the documentary.

The style of interview we plan to use is where the interviewer is off screen and the interviewee looks at him whilst answering the questions, we think this is the better idea for this type of documentary because it is all about the two students, so we want to focus to be solely on them.

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