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Codes and conventions, market research and target audience for documentaries. Victoria Emerson. CHOOSE A DOCUMENTARY. SPELLBOUND. THE DYING ROOMS. J.K. Rowling – A Year In The Life. SPELLBOUND - codes AND CONVENTIONS…. INTERCUTS.

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Codes and conventions, market research and target audience for documentaries


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    1. Codes and conventions, market research and target audience for documentaries Victoria Emerson

    2. CHOOSE A DOCUMENTARY SPELLBOUND THE DYING ROOMS J.K. Rowling – A Year In The Life

    3. SPELLBOUND- codes AND CONVENTIONS… INTERCUTS Intercuts were used frequently in Spellbound, to make the interviews more substantial and informational, whilst making it appear more interesting. PASSIVE/INDIRECT MODE OF ADDRESS In the footage of the actual competition, candidates used passive mode of address to make the audience feel like they were observing, rather than being fully involved. This also helped the protagonists, as they didn’t have to worry about where to look. This adds to the realism of the event, whereas if the contestants had looked at the camera during the competition, it would have looked staged.

    4. SPELLBOUND- CODES AND CONVENTIONS (continued) PROFILE SHOTS This Documentary in particular, featured a heavy amount of profile shots. These shots enable the audience to familiarise with the subjects, by observing the facial expressions close up. In this case, it helped differentiate between the protagonists and the other contestants. INTERVIEWS Spellbound featured a lot of interviews, as it followed 8 different families, specifically the contestant children, as well as experts (previous winners). This helps to reinforce the seriousness and importance of the subject matter, it also helps the audience to gain some understanding of ‘Spelling Bees’ and why Americans endorse it so much. The winner: NapurLala

    5. Spellbound – market research An interview that the BBC did with Jeff Blitz (director) reveals the market research he had to do before filming/producing Spellbound. http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2003/10/10/jeff_blitz_spellbound_interview.shtml Q: How long did it take to find all the subjects, and how long did you shoot for? Q: How did you encounter the national Spelling Bee competition? A: I saw the Bee on ESPN in 1997. A: We researched for about a year and shot for over six months. Q: How did you go about choosing the children you'd be filming during the documentary? A: I did spend months handicapping the spellers. I studied which kids had gone far in 1998 and were young enough to return. Then I examined the words they spelled in 1998, trying to figure out which of these kids had lucked into the later rounds and which really defeated some truly hard words.

    6. Spellbound – Target Audience Though the Documentary heavily involves children of between 8 – 13 years, it also features parents. This Documentary would target a global market, because the subject is one that defines the United States of America, and other countries may have never experienced it before, therefore making them more interested in the process. The target market for this Documentary would be either students the age of 6 – 14 who are interested in spelling, or parents, because this is a niche topic, which means only those who are interested in spelling would choose to watch it. Contestant: Harry Altman

    7. THE DYING ROOMS – CODES AND CONVENTIONS HANDHELD CAMERA The Dying Rooms emphasises a ‘top secret’/urgent agenda in their narrative, meaning camera people would not have had time to have set up the tripod properly, or used fancy equipment. Most of the footage, if not all of it, was taken handheld. This makes it seem more realistic and makes us take the situation more seriously. INTERVIEWS Many of the local people interviewed had their faces blurred out, or their voice distorted, so they could not be identified, which makes the audience feel pity or fear for their wellbeing, and realise the harsh reality of the situation. Those interviews contrast heavily with the experts, who were sat conveniently in front of bookshelves which made them appear to be far more intelligent.

    8. THE DYING ROOMS – CODES AND CONVENTIONS (CONTINUED) CLOSE UP SHOTS The Dying Rooms use a frequent amount of close ups, which allow the audience to feel an intense sympathy for the children, because there is less background, meaning facial expressions are more emphasised.

    9. The Dying rooms - Market Research ONLINE SUCCESS The Dying Rooms was a film to hit success, meaning it wasn’t released in the cinema, nor was it released on DVD. The film became an online success. The film’s aim was to uncover the situation in China – not to make a profit. The Documentary exposes how they gain more information, as the Documentary progresses.

    10. The dying rooms – TARGET AUDIENCE The nature of the Documentary would be too gory and mature for any person under the age of sixteen. The content and images are graphic and would be too explicit for children to watch. The Documentary targets adults, specifically parents, as parents can relate to the children and would be more likely to sympathise.

    11. J.K. Rowling – a year in the life – codes and conventions ESTABLISHING SHOTS Establishing shots are used frequently to communicate whereabouts Jo is located. An example of this is at the beginning where it cuts to the city, building and flat room she is in. This shows that this place is particularly significant to her, and to the Harry Potter franchise. PROFILE SHOTS Profile shots are used to mark the importance of character and give the character depth. The profile shot pictured to the right began severely, with only one eye visible to the viewer (which often makes the audience feel comfortable), but the camera pans around, therefore allowing the audience to warm to her – essentially. NATURAL LIGHT: A sign of purity, often used in Documentaries to reinforce a sense of realism.

    12. J.K. Rowling – a year in the life – codes and conventions (CONTINUED) MODE TYPE The mode type is a hybrid, yet it is prominent throughout the entirety of the Documentary. Jo is seen to be talking actively and directly to the interviewer. Though, the audience is not isolated because her body language is facing the camera, welcoming the viewer into the conversation. The conversation seems intimate, as if it is you (the viewer), her and the interviewer. The interviewer is also the ‘voice of God’, thus branding the mode of Documentary a hybrid between Participatory and Expository. MODE OF ADDRESS: Jo converses with the interviewer in a friendly manner, but faces the audience.

    13. J.K. Rowling – a year in the life – MARKET RESEARCH MARKET RESEARCH In an description of the Documentary on his official webpage, Runcie explains that not much market research was done to uncover J.K. Rowling’s thoughts, and that he simply spoke to her. “It’s an intimate, personal encounter, in which J.K. Rowling talks simply and honestly about her life and her writing. It was not made as a glitzy publicity film because I wasn’t very interested in making something anyone else could have done. Instead, the aim was to make something more quietly revealing, to discover what Rowling really thought, and to discuss some of the central themes of her work; childhood hopes and fears, loyalty and betrayal, chance and fate. I didn’t ask very much about magic, or quidditch, or the twists and turns of the Harry Potter story, as I wanted to get to the heart of what her writing was really about.” – James Runcie

    14. J.K. Rowling – a year in the life – TARGET AUDIENCE TARGET AUDIENCE The target audience of this Documentary is aimed at the older fans (12+) of the Harry Potter franchise, as some of the content is too severe/mature for children.

    15. TAKING LIBERTIES – CODES AND CONVENTIONS ESTABLISHING SHOTS The establishing shots summarises the environment where the Documentary is set. The bottom left picture clarifies that Scotland has influence over Britain too, and the pictures on the right hand side connote England’s eccentricity/stereotype. AURAL SIGNIFIER The music is an example of patriotic British symphony. This reinforces the images (shown to the right) and builds on the way people perceive Britain. HANDHELD FOOTAGE Hand held footage of some citizens prevented from protesting against the war is used to portray the politicians as unjust and brutish, due to their ‘manipulation of the police.’

    16. TAKING LIBERTIES – CODES AND CONVENTIONS (CONTINUED) SYMBOLIC IMAGES This image (shown right) was used in a montage, explaining one of Hitler’s schemes. The image symbolises torture, similar to what Christians believe Jesus suffered. The other image (further right) involves the Nazi symbol, implicating that a comparison is going to be made between Hitler and Tony Blair. STOCK FOOTAGE Stock footage of Winston Churchill is shown. Stock footage is used to show depth in the subject, and reinforce the idea behind the Documentary.

    17. TAKING LIBERTIES – MARKET RESEARCH MARKET RESEARCH A review from Rotten Tomatoes states: “Filmmaker Chris Atkins uses his documentary to make a case for the erosion of civil liberties in the Taking Liberties administration of prime minister Tony Blair. Atkins uses a combination of archival and interview footage to reveals a series of heinous injustices carried out against British citizens, from unlawful imprisonment, to outrageous terrorism accusations, to punishment by torture and outlawed protests. Highlights include Jack Straw's negotiations with the United States that yielded an unfavorable balance of extraditing power in favor of the U.S., and Walter Wolfgang's arrest, under the blanket of terrorism, for heckling a Labour Party conference. Original animated sequences link individual the segments, narrated by Ashley Jensen.” ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi

    18. TAKING LIBERTIES – MARKET RESEARCH TARGET AUDIENCE The documentary is heavily political, featuring explicit symbolism and also contains themes of violence and conspiracy. Therefore it is not suitable for children, or people below the age of 15. The target audience would most likely be for the more mature demographic from 30 – 80.

    19. Undercover retirement home – CODES AND CONVENTIONS TITLES This Documentary uses a title , explaining to the audience who the ‘voice of god’ is. VOICE OF GOD Narration is used in this Documentary, therefore making it an Expository/Participatory Documentary. INTERVIEWS Dispatches involved at least one interview, and it was composed in the convention manner, wherein the interviewee is on the right or left hand side, facing the interviewer, addressing the audience passively.

    20. Undercover retirement home – CODES AND CONVENTIONS (CONTINUED) MODE OF ADDRESS As mentioned on the previous slide, passive mode of address is used in the interviews. However, Morland Sanders appears to be addressing the audience directly, as an authoritive guide to the viewers. It could be argued that this could be seen as intimidating, but it could also be seen as familiarising with the audience. SUBTITLES Often in Documentaries, when they take uncover/top secret footage, the sound becomes muffled or distorted. Subtitles are an effective option, to ensure that people can understand what is being said. This is quite common in Documentaries.

    21. UNDERcover retirement home – MARKET RESEARCH + TARGET AUDIENCE MARKET RESEARCH TARGET AUDIENCE In order to gain more information on the Part Exchange option, Dispatches sent in a 79 year old actress to pretend to be downsizing her house. This was shown in the Documentary, and the entire Documentary centred around that investigation. McCarthy And Stone responded to the programme, claiming that Dispatches had not asked for consent to film there, nor had asked for permission to broadcast the footage. The target audience, due to the subject matter, would be 40 – 80 year olds, because some middle aged adults could be wanting to watch for the benefit of their elderly parents, and the elderly would watch because it concerns their wellbeing.