Questions on ‘Shaping the Real’

12 Sep

Shaping the Real

Modes of Documentary



How are ‘modes’ different to ‘genres’?


Unlike genres, modes can describe the actual historical world in a variety of ways. By using a variety of different modes, the same thing that is being documented can be shown in from different perspectives and ways that you wouldn’t normally see otherwise.



What is a ‘hybrid’ form of documentary?


A hybrid form of documentary is when film makers use more than one mode in the same film. This is often done on purpose to give a specific effect and can easily be achieved now because of all the modes being available for use.



What is the earliest example of expository documentary?


The earliest example of expository documentary is ‘Nanook of the North’ which was released in 1922.



What is the ‘Voice of God’? What is its role in documentary?


The voice of god in a documentary is a voice over which usually put on top of images of footage being play. The purpose of ‘voice of god’ is to tell the viewer exactly what is going on. The voice often has a strong authority over the viewer and is made to sound very believable, hence the use of the word ‘god’.   In older documentaries such as Nanook of the North titles are used because of the technical limitations at the time.



What is the relationship between the script and images in a expository documentary?


The script will link to the images shown in an expository documentary to make it flow. The script will also make the viewer sure of the situation that is going on in the scene. The script and images will be synchronised so that events happening can be understood. Some footage without a voice will without a doubt make little sense and would be of no interest.



Is the commentary presented as subjective or objective?


The commentary is presented as objective which means that the documentary is showing information in a completely non biased way. The documentary will be showing both sides of the argument and will not persuade the viewer to take sides.



Explain the choice of narrator in most expository documentaries?


An old view of the ideal narrator would be someone who is a white, middle aged and middle classed man. How ever nowadays there is no restrictions as to who narrates a documentary, however it is almost essential that they speak in standard English and have an easy listening tone to their voice.



Why should commentary have such a telling impact?


Commentary should have a story telling impact because it helps the viewer understand the images in more depth than they would normally. More points and facts are pointed out when commentary is along side images.



Give and example of how commentary can powerfully re-interpret footage.


One famous example would be the beating of a black motor cyclist named Rodney King, four police men took part in the beating. The lawyers defending the police officers used commentary which pointed out very subtle things which wouldn’t have been noticed normally.



What does ‘anchoring’ mean?


Anchoring means that the voiceover is being carried out in a way that allows it to present information in a rhetorical style, this will usually impress the viewer.



Why do film makers sometimes restage or reconstruct events?


Film makers may sometimes restage or reconstruct events in documentaries to give of an impression that the film makers want to give. An example of this is in Nanook of the North when the film makers asked the eskimos to reconstruct an iglo just so that the filming equipment could fit inside. Obviously this wouldn’t be told to the viewer as it may cause a sense a deception, the film maker wouldn’t want to be accused of lying. The changes usually tend to be very subtle and not noticeable enough to cause suspicion.



What technical reason did early film makers have for reconstructing events?


In modern times it is almost certain that footage of an event will be present due to increasing advances in technology which enable almost anyone to film from mobile devices. Back in the days of even the 1990’s amateur footage of certain events wasn’t really available because of the lack of technology, instead reconstructions were used and are still used. Reconstructions made it possible for documentary makers to show past events in the way that they want to. An example of this would be from ‘Road Racers’ in 1984, in the reconstruction the main character was shown riding an old bike to give the impression of him living in a previous time period. In reality how ever he rode a very modern high speed motorcycle. Examples like this show that film makers can exaggerate certain events and emphasise key points.



Is re-enactment usually acknowledged in the expository mode?


Re-enactments are often used in documentaries to help the viewer understand the event more clearly, the viewer may also interpret a different opinion from watching reconstructions based on facts than real amateur footage of an event.



Why did the film maker ask the motorcycle racer to change bikes?


The film maker asked the racer to change bikes because he wanted to put a different message out the audience, he wanted the audience to believe that the racer came from a more traditional, simple background. Top of the range bikes were available in his area and his hometown was not as stuck in time as the film maker wanted it to be portrayed as.



What are the advantages and disadvantages of using stereotypes in documentaries?


An advantage of using stereotypes could be that it makes it easier for the audience to understand a situation more.

A disadvantage would be the fact that stereotypes are becoming overused and are starting to portray people as being something they are not. The viewer believing these stereotypes is like having false knowledge of reality.



How can re-enactments create generalisations?


Re-enactments create generalisations by simply portraying characters as being not what they truly are in reality and instead being what the filmmaker wants the viewer to believe them to be.



How does filming something several times help expository film makers with editing?


By filming something several times it enables the editors to have a widened selection of raw footage to use. They also do this so that they make is easier to switch to different camera shots with a smooth transition and generally make the documentary flow.



What is the difference in continuity between expository documentaries and fiction films – ie. What dominates the order of images?


The difference between expository documentaries and fiction is that the order of images depends on different things entirely. The expository documentaries will rely on being accompanied by a narration or a voice over on top of images. The narration of the documentary will have main priority on top of the actual footage gathered.



In expository documentary the narration always seems to have a constant dominance over the actual images seen on screen, even though the visual factor may have a very strong effect on the audience the narration is the essential backbone to the expository documentary. With out it there would simply be no sense of direction or structure to the documentary, the amazing visuals and special effects will mean nothing without the narration.



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