Five Modes of Documentary Representation The Observational Mode

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Five Modes of Documentary Representation The Observational Mode of Documentary Representation

Five Modes of Documentary Representation The Observational Mode of Documentary Representation

Table of Contents 1) Observational Mode of Documentary Representation 2) Observational Mode 3) Direct

Table of Contents 1) Observational Mode of Documentary Representation 2) Observational Mode 3) Direct Cinema 4) Limitations

Observational Mode “[An observational mode of representation] conveys the sense of unmediated and unfettered

Observational Mode “[An observational mode of representation] conveys the sense of unmediated and unfettered access to the world… [It] allowed the filmmaker to record unobtrusively what people did when they were not explicitly addressing the camera… [It] stresses the nonintervention of the film maker. Such films cede ‘control’ over the events that occur in front of the camera more than any other mode. ” Bill Nichols, Representing Reality, pp. 33, 38 and 43.

Observational Mode PRINCIPLES • No or little voice-of-god narration or commentary • No or

Observational Mode PRINCIPLES • No or little voice-of-god narration or commentary • No or little music external to the observed scene • No re-enactments • No or little inter-titles

Observational Mode • No scripts • No interviews AIM - to present a slice

Observational Mode • No scripts • No interviews AIM - to present a slice of life, or direct representation of the filmed events; to make the film maker invisible, that is, an uninvolved and neutral bystander

Observational Mode TECHNIQUES • Frequent uses of long take • Direct sound recording during

Observational Mode TECHNIQUES • Frequent uses of long take • Direct sound recording during filming • Hand-held camera, 16 mm rather than 35 mm

Observational Mode • Flexible zoom lens going from 12 mm wideangle to 120 mm

Observational Mode • Flexible zoom lens going from 12 mm wideangle to 120 mm telephoto positions • Fast film stocks

Observational Mode • Fundamentally a cameraman and a sound recorder team • No re-shooting

Observational Mode • Fundamentally a cameraman and a sound recorder team • No re-shooting

Direct Cinema • Strictly observational • Reliance on an agreement among the film maker

Direct Cinema • Strictly observational • Reliance on an agreement among the film maker and the subjects of the film to ‘act’ as if the camera and film makers are not present. • The film maker as a fly-on-the-wall capturing life as it unfolds.

Direct Cinema • • Robert Drew Richard Leacock Donn Pennebaker Albert and David Maysles

Direct Cinema • • Robert Drew Richard Leacock Donn Pennebaker Albert and David Maysles • American documentary filmmakers

Direct Cinema • Robert Drew • Fighter pilot during WWII and one of the

Direct Cinema • Robert Drew • Fighter pilot during WWII and one of the first jet pilots. • Commissioned to write a story from a pilot’s perspective for Life magazine. • Employed by Life.

Direct Cinema • Drew was impressed and influenced by Alfred Eisenstaedt photographer and father

Direct Cinema • Drew was impressed and influenced by Alfred Eisenstaedt photographer and father of American photo-journalism • Life photo-journalism provided a format for Drew’s Direct Cinema.

Direct Cinema • Applied Eisenstaedt’s principles of photojournalism to documentary filmmaking • Candid photography

Direct Cinema • Applied Eisenstaedt’s principles of photojournalism to documentary filmmaking • Candid photography capturing spontaneous moments in our everyday life. • As a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, he worked out theories for a film making based on candid photography. • Assembled a group of journalists and film makers

Direct Cinema Ten Commandments • • • Thou shalt not rehearse Thou shalt not

Direct Cinema Ten Commandments • • • Thou shalt not rehearse Thou shalt not interview Thou shalt not use commentary Thou shalt not use light Thou shalt not stage events

Direct Cinema • • • Thou shalt not dissolve Thou shalt not dub Thou

Direct Cinema • • • Thou shalt not dissolve Thou shalt not dub Thou shalt not add music Thou shalt not edit Thou shalt not script Complete avoidance of every sort of Film maker’s intervention

Direct Cinema • Robert Drew and Richard Leacock, Primary (1960) • It is about

Direct Cinema • Robert Drew and Richard Leacock, Primary (1960) • It is about John F. Kennedy’s 1960 Wisconsin Primary run against Hubert Humphrey

Direct Cinema • Frederic Wiseman, High School (1968) • It is a documentary of

Direct Cinema • Frederic Wiseman, High School (1968) • It is a documentary of day-to-day events that take place in Northeast High School in Philadelphia. • Clip

Direct Cinema • Albert and David Maysles • Documentary filmmakers in the Direct Cinema

Direct Cinema • Albert and David Maysles • Documentary filmmakers in the Direct Cinema tradition • Salesman (1969), Gimme Shelter (1970), Grey Gardens (1975)

Direct Cinema Nick Bloomfield and Joan Churchill, Soldier Girls (1981) Rigorous induction of a

Direct Cinema Nick Bloomfield and Joan Churchill, Soldier Girls (1981) Rigorous induction of a batch of female recruits into the US Army

Direct Cinema • Juvenile Liaison (1975) • Observational documentary on police officers dealing with

Direct Cinema • Juvenile Liaison (1975) • Observational documentary on police officers dealing with juvenile delinquency in Lancashire, England. • clip

Problems and Limitations ① Implicit and sometimes undisguised agenda at work • Primary - the

Problems and Limitations ① Implicit and sometimes undisguised agenda at work • Primary - the Wisconsin primary election, or, a class and gender divide in the American society? • High School - how a school functions, or, an exposé of the shortfall of the education system

Limitations • Soldier Girls - the training of female soldiers, or, an exposé of

Limitations • Soldier Girls - the training of female soldiers, or, an exposé of the inhumanity in treating young predominantly working-class recruits and institutional sexism and racism,

Limitations ② Observational documentaries are related in present tense. How can a past event

Limitations ② Observational documentaries are related in present tense. How can a past event be represented? ③ Observational documentaries record mostly surface appearance. Is it possible for them to penetrate into the person or the event, and therefore, a deeper level of reality and truth?