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Codes and Conventions of a Documentary



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    A documentary is a broad term to describe a movie that in some way “documents” or captures reality. Documentaries are often used to reveal a usual, interesting or unknown angle. Purpose of documentary: – Documentaries concentrate upon actual evidence. – Documentaries film real people, real life events and also explain historical events and scientific discoveries. – The documentary presenter often acts as a representative for the public.

    The documentary puts forward an argument or a case through which the audience expect to learn something. – The documentary filmmakers hope to reveal information to the audience, this would most probably be something that the audience is not familiar with or unaware of about the past or present. Documentary conventions: Voiceover: – The voiceover is authoritative and interesting in some way or another which encourages the audience to think that the person speaking has specialist knowledge in this particular field of the documentary.

    Peoples such as: David Attenborough are often used as his voice is welcoming to the audience making them believe that this is what they should pay attention to as these are the ‘right’ views on what he is saying as he is qualified in this field. ‘Real’ footage of events: – Documentaries are essentially seen as ‘non-fiction’, so all events presented to the audience are seen to be ‘real’. Interviews with ‘experts’: – Documentaries interview experts it is used to authenticate the views expressed.

    Sometimes the interviewee may disagree with the message of the documentary, although the film maker will usually disprove them in some way. Use of text/titles: – Documentaries usually use words on screens to anchor images in time and space. It is a quick and cheap way of conveying information. Documentary styles: Expository form: – Uses a narrator to address the audience. Observational mode: – Allows visual material to tell its own story without a narrator. Reflexive form: – A sophisticated documentary style which reflects on the production process itself. Participatory (interactive): – Documentary maker interacts with topic.

    Codes and Conventions of a Documentary. (2016, Dec 10). Retrieved from

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