Announcements. Exams will be distributed in your section meetings after next Tuesday. Screening in Section: Crisis , (Robert Drew & Associates) Richard Leacock, James Lipscomb, D.A. Pennebaker, & Hope Ryden, 1963
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Wed Feb 13, 7pm, Free
Vis Arts Performance Space
A presentation by an alternative Television collective that has been active since 1981.
Every media-object can be understood as a document. (The Great Train Robbery?)
Documentary can be understood as a set of practices of media-making, distribution, and viewing/reception.
The Internet Archive: http://archive.org
“Documentaries are the creative treatment of actuality”
- John Grierson, Critic and Filmmaker
“Documentaries are representations of reality” - Bill Nichols, Historian and Theorist
“Documentaries are performed reality” - Stella Bruzzi, Historian and Theorist
Images: Disparate image and sound sources (original footage/recordings, archival, dramatized, photographs, paper documents)
Organization: Development of idea / argument
2. Stand for or represent the interests of others
3. Make a case for a particular view or interpretation
“Since there is nothing natural about the representation of reality in documentary, documentary filmmakers are acutely aware that all there choices shape the meanings they choose” Aufterheide
The history of documentary is a history of media producers creatively struggling with how to represent or engage reality.
Some key concerns that have driven decisions about formal conventions:
Technical changes have shaped these conventions as well, such as availability of lightweight camera, introduction of TV and video, etc
Documentary historian and theorist, Michael Renov:
1. To record, reveal or preserve
2. To persuade or promote
3. To analyze or interrogate
4. To express
Out of what (public) contexts and for what reasons do these tendencies develop?
What means do filmmakers use to achieve these ends?
“The importance of Documentaries is linked to a notion of the public as a social phenomenon”- Aufterheide
Who is “speaking” about or for whom is an important characteristic of documentaries:
I (film/media-maker) speak about them to you.
It (media) speaks about them to us.
I or we speak about us to you.
I facilitate them speaking to you/us/themselves.
These six categories are suggested by Bill Nichols
Inuit Broadcasting Corp: http://inuitbroadcasting.ca/
(A contemporary example of self-determined media)
The Drifters, 1928, John Grierson. Great Britain. A film on herring fishermen. Influenced by Flaherty’s films; sought to apply the form to local/national issues.
The River, Pare Lorentz, 1937. Produced for the Farm Works Administration to promote the Roosevelt’s New Deal and the TVA.
Listen to Britain, Humphrey Jennings. 1942
Example: Rain, Joris Ivens, 1928 (Dutch)
Cinema Verite (and Direct Cinema to a lesser degree)
2. Don't produce the surface of things: have a real subject and a real analysis -- or at least an intelligent proposition – that is larger than the subject of the film. If you forget to think about this before starting to shoot, find it in the editing room, and then put it in the film, somehow.
3. Don’t produce freak shows of the oppressed, the different, the criminal, the primitive. Please don't use your compassion as an excuse for social pornography. Leave the poor freaks alone.
4. Don’t produce awe for the rich, the famous, the talented, the highly successful: they are always everywhere and we feel bad enough about ourselves already. The chance to envy, or hate them, in the cinema doesn't help anybody.
5. Don’t make films that celebrate "the old ways" and mourn their loss. Haven’t you yourself enjoyed change? How are the "old ways" people different from you?
6. Keep an eye on your own middle-class bias, and on your audience's: don’t make a film that feeds it. Remember that you are producing human consciousness in people who are very susceptible to suggestion... and alone in the dark.
7. Don't address an audience of "rational animals": we have not yet evolved beyond the primitive urges of hatred, violence, and exploitation of the poor and the weak.
8. Try not to exploit your social actors: just being seen in your film is not enough compensation for the use of their bodies, voices and experience.
9. Whatever you do, don't make "history". If you can't help yourself, try to remember that you’re just telling a story -- and at the very least, find a way to acknowledge your authorship.
10. Watch that music: what's it doing? who is it conning?
11. Leave your parents out of this.
Early West Coast Video Collectives