Overall, I am satisfied with what I have produced.

I wanted the look and tone of the documentary to reflect an investigative genre. I wanted to drive my narrative along with a performative piece-to-camera and accentuate the points made with telling interviewed talent. I re-wrote the script numerous times in an effort to allow the issue be as open and thought provoking as possible. I didn’t want to load the story with any pre-conceived notions as per the example watched during the semester about cyber-crime. I wanted to avoid fixing on an obvious news-style angle and to then drum this home. In my opinion, doing this greatly diminishes the credentials of a worthy documentary and instead reduces it to a partisan news report. I wanted to make a journalist style documentary, but avoid a TV news report format.

Unforeseen production problems involving cancelled talent meant that the shooting schedule had to be rejigged. This meant the piece to camera (PTC) had to be shot before the interview was shot. Speaking as the writer and performer, it would have been much easier to write and perform the scripted piece after the interview had been shot. This way the final draft, and the performance itself, would have been more consistent to the narrative flow. As it was, at least the script had been refined enough to allow the option to shoot out of sequence even though this wasn’t the ideal option.

I referenced Jasmine’s progress quite closely as she too was conducting interviews in her production. Hers were to be more intimate and personal than my objective and removed presence, but I was interested to follow how she was going with them all the same. As well I was interested in James’ hoping to glean some degree of inspiration from his use of a poetic theme and the visual ambition of his project.

Pre-production

My visual reference for the documentary was Errol Morris’ The Fog of War.

Using this I was able to better imagine where the interview sat within the documentary as a component of the narrative and how to frame it dramatically – with music – within the context of my subject matter.

It provided me with an understanding that the interview was the key aspect. I, performing as the narrator and as the on-camera presence, would act out questions within the world to which the inquiry is being made, and then throw to the the talent for a response.

In this regard, a script was written, which included two performative pieces to camera and an outline of overall structure. The performative pieces were intended to be the key narrative points of conflict and inquiry designed to establish motive. As set forth in Nichols. Around these I decided to compose a series of poetic montages that visually depicted tight, congested and crowded city scenes. These were to be shot steady, on a tripod and also hand-held to convey a sense to the audience as being part of a busy, bustling, claustrophobic city dominated society.

My script references were the theories of Ferdinand Tonnies and Delanty, particularly the assertion made in an early production note that:

Both Tonnies and Delanty present a dichotomy between society and community as existential concepts. The two are distinct and serve particular purposes. “Two kinds of associative life”.(Delanty, 32)

I wanted to investigate how exactly these states differed and settled upon a hypothesis that the descriptions offered could be classified, anecdotally, as distinctly male – in the case of society, or female – in the case of community.

Production

I conducted two interviews but decided to include only one in the final cut.

To include both I decided, diluted the narrative. The two interview talent were quite different. Including both would have lessened the clarity of the narrative or required a longer running time. I wanted to cap total running time at eight minutes, figuring any longer would be a disincentive for potential viewers to watch.

As much of the production was to be done alone, I opted to greatly streamline my equipment requirements. The finished documentary destination being online meant that TV broadcast quality wasn’t necessary. I was able to shoot on a high quality, yet very portable HD video camera with a radio microphone jack capability. I wanted my audio to be good quality and unambiguous as the interview subjects and the pieces-to-camera were key narrative hinging points. The interviews were arranged and factored into scheduling.

The first interview with Dr. Jan Garrand went smoothly. I wasn’t entirely delighted with the responses, feeling like they were overly academic and dry. She was reluctant to ascribe to my requests to discuss anecdotal similarities of the descriptions of society and community as being male and female.

The second, with Dr. Andrew Carroll was canceled. Fortunately, he was able to put me in touch with a surrogate, Dr. Danny Sullivan. I was fortunate that Dr. Sullivan was able to be interviewed at short notice and that his specialty was the forensic examination of rage where it involved crime, sometimes murder. He was a great, engaging, and quite interesting subject who was able to offer some nice insight and prestige to my finished product.

Voiceover performance was another key creative component.

These were read to accentuate and add to the piece-to-camera’s. These required quite a great deal of performance, in that they needed to be scripted and read with dramatic emphasis to make them engaging. Narrative strength and flow was a key creative aspect in recording these.

Music was made using audio recordings of street-scape and mixing in a simple, slightly ominous, foreboding beat.

Post-production

I was looking forward to loading everything into the workstation and starting the edit.

The script proved vital. The edit went quite smoothly and was without many real hitches due to the script being re-drafted and refined four times in pre-production. The refined script was an invaluable blue-print during the edit.

During production, I sourced a number of facebook sites that dealt with and discussed rage. Originally, I toyed with idea of producing something humorous rather than dramatic. I opted against this due to feeling that humor was probably more difficult to achieve than drama. Also, my interviews were going to be with academics and I didn’t really want to trivialise anything they would say. The facebook sites were less than serious in tone. In fact many were infested with ‘trolls’. As my film featured serious academic participants and also a personal performance, I opted not to upload to these numerous pages. I felt this would have contravened the privacy and permission agreements I had with my talent. Instead, I uploaded to The Pool, Youtube and Vimeo

Feedback from The Pool so far has been encouraging:

Hi Aaron – a fascinating and thought provoking piece and great exploration of the difference between community and society. Well crafted too, you are obviously familiar with the tropes and protocols of TV news and C/AFF stories. My suggestions for your consideration would be … given the quite philosophical nature of the content is the 60-minutes approach right? with the richness of your content I think it would have been nice to be a bit more free/associative/experimental etc in your style and visual approach – also – it would be GREAT if you could put this in the my tribe exhibition – you just need to join the ‘my tribe’ group – and then edit this piece by selecting/ticking the my tribe button in the ‘groups’ section (that way everyone in my tribe will see it) thanks for uploading!

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Delanty, Gerard. Community and Society, 2003

Tonnies, Ferdinand. Community and Society (Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft), 1857

Nichols, B. Introduction to Documentary, 2001

Advertisements

The documentary has been uploaded to The Pool, classified as a video documentary of social/ political and opinion categories. It has been directed towards the My Tribe initiative on The Pool.

Go direct to my documentary within The Pool here

Here is a dedicated blog page set up to further showcase the work


I’m unwilling to start wittering on about conflicting university deadlines, even though one of them is a thesis that requires a half dozen or so face-to-face interviews and subsequent transcriptions.

So I won’t.

One of the most taxing components of producing a documentary as a lone entity – ie, doing everything as a sort of one-man-band, is when plans come unstuck. It’s like the inner-knee cymbles suddenly coming loose in the middle of a gritty harmonica and squeezebox number.

My documentary involves two interviews. The first one’s in the can, but the second, after many push-backs and postponments cancelled. I have managed to scramble a new subject, but this will not be possible until next Wednesday – 2 days before screening.  It also chewed into valuable post-production time. I suffered a bit of film-making rage about the non-co-operation of my rage interview subjects. It has reminded me how important the producer role is and how thoroughly that role needs to be done. It’s an exhausting and often frustrating aspect of any documentary and can greatly eat into the time needed for other jobs on a project.

On a brighter note: Everything else is shot and editing is underway.

I recently watched this documentary, Deep Water. It’s about the fascinating attempt, in 1968, to be the first to circumnavigate the world by boat solo, unassisted and without stopping. Quite topical, and also one which is an excellent example of using archival footage mixed with interviews. I think the music used is pretty cool as well, and has influenced some thought on music for my project.

The book is a great read too, ‘A voyage for madmen,’ by Peter Nichols.


Due to the final destination of my documentary being a restricted file size domain – cyberspace, I have chosen to use quite portable equipment rather than full-blown cinematic standard photography gear. I have been conscious of the ultimate requirement: crunching down my film so it is easily accessed and therefore viewed. If my audience is anything like myself, they will hate having to sit for an interminable time, waiting for something to load, or tolerate breaks in streaming efficiency.

So, all my shooting is via a very portable HD  camera. The most technical shot involves using a radio-remote audio recording set-up.

This reckoning was confirmed, of sorts, in the lecture today. A digital device-using audience expects a different dimension to their documentary than when in front of their TV’s or in a cinema. Immediacy and integrity of footage is at a higher premium than audio of visual quality.

I only recently hooked into the digi-phone craze, in the past ascribing to the ‘it’s just a phone f@#kwit!’ community. Since acquiring one, I’ve been happily converted to its many benefits and recently downloaded a video app that has allowed me to shoot a series of small, episodic self portraits in that well known hand-held, lens facing towards owner style. I can wi-fi them straight to my computer at home, import them into final cut, conduct a composite, perform some simple edits, export back to my phone and then upload to twitter for distribution among my network.

It struck me, like a rain of hammer blows indenting dense wood: the documentary potential latent in equipment routinely carried by everyone is actually staggering. Especially when combined with 3g phone technology which marries documentary hardware, in the form of applications available for free, with sophisticated digital communication networking provided by phone companies.

For me, the phone function of my phone has been relegated to a secondary importance. All the other recording and digital communication aspects of it are much more interesting. I think I’m going to have lots of fun with my phone, without dialing a number.


All my shots are in the can except for two interviews i wish to conduct. Both these interview subjects have recently contacted me and delayed the shoot. I have re-scheduled, and although it will be tight, I should be able to have a rough-cut ready for presentation in the week 11 tute.

My interviews will be with:

Dr. Jan Garrand

Dr Garrard’s research is primarily concerned with understanding the socio-environmental and personal determinants of physical activity (particularly active transport) for women, and evaluation of interventions aimed at promoting physical activity. In particular, she is interested in:

• Motivations for commencing and maintaining cycling for active transport and recreation
• Differences in cyclists’ route choices according to gender and cycling experience
• The impact of aggressive and unsafe driving on active transport
• Evaluating the effectiveness of interventions to promote active transport
• Integration of process and impact evaluation measures using an adaptation of realist evaluation.

Dr. Andrew Carroll

Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology and Psychiatry
Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist, Forensicare

Dr Carroll’s clinical background includes internships in general medicine and neurosurgery, psychiatric specialty training and consultant experience in general adult psychiatry and forensic psychiatry. His research interests include examining insight in psychosis and the patients’ self-assessment of their psychosocial needs, enhancing compliance with medication in psychosis, management of forensic patients and serious violence associated with motor vehicle use.

He has been awarded the 1998 Max Hamilton Prize at the University of Leeds for best MMedSci dissertation. In 1991 Dr Carroll was awarded the Medical School Prize in Psychiatry at the University of Oxford.


Crude – the incredible journey of oil

This is an exhaustive look at crude oil, its origins and how it has come to be the energy rich fuel which powers modern industry today.

It is presented as a series of expository episodes detailing the life cycle of oil ecology from its formation to its end use as a fuel. Animation and observational narrative detailing the circumstances represent elements – such as the dinosaur age – that could not be filmed in-situ. These serve as convincing visions of a time, millions of years ago, when the algal blooms from which oil is made-up, flourished.

The episodes are further added to by accounts given by eminent people about the formation of oil and its historical journey from micro-animal to the problematic but vital fuel which drives the gears of civilisation.

The documentary is entertaining and informative. It presents a thoroughness of research, comment by informed people and an accessible and engaging script. It doesn’t present any sort of conclusion, rather it’s a documentary without a conclusion.

Long journey – young lives is an interactive documentary that is similarly expository and observational in method to Crude. The similarities end there. Long journey uses a dramatic script and soundtrack to accentuate an already highly charged subject matter. I think it’s a bit over done and detracts from the testimony of the documentary interviewees. The animation ‘buttons’ that viewers interact with in order to toggle through episodes are not well conceived. They are a little bit jarring in terms of art-direction, appearing as clip art rather than intuitive interactive menu items. That said, the individual testimonies are engaging and thought provoking.

Us Mob

This is an educational online documentary that seems targeted towards primary school aged children. It is interactively engaging in a way that is reminiscent of the ease children have in making new friends. It is updated weekly with new content and this new content is made, it is said in the site’s introduction, with viewer feedback in mind. In this way, the documentary is ever evolving and encourages contribution messages be sent by viewers.

Us Mob is a massive production, involving a large team of variously skilled production crew. In this regard, it is skirting on ‘website’ status rather than online documentary in my opinion.

It seems the producers of the documentary engaged in participatory documentary methodology. Producer participation and direction is at the heart of scenes featuring community children performing to cues.  The website format also offers a definite reflexive tone. The scenes are repeated over and over in exactly the same manner depending on how many times they are interacted with. These have been contrived in order to progress the narrative in a style that is common and much used in website navigation.

The repetitive nature of this type of site navigation can quickly lose appeal.  As is the case, in my opinion, for Us Mob. The interaction isn’t engaging or varied enough, and the promise to update content not powerful enough an allure to get me to return frequently. I think it would be a valuable and fun learning tool for the intended market though.


This news style report could only loosely be described as a documentary in my opinion. By this I mean: The main agenda in making the film was to capture a particular news angle and then broadcast it as a current affairs style program. As such, the documentary merits were diminished somewhat.

The central protaganist – the reporter – assumed a participatory role as an investigative, primary presence, occasionally breaking to commentate in a voice-of-god manner.  He was employed to question and interview victims, parents, experts and a bully himself. His role was accentuated with dramatic reproductions to highlight the supposed issues. Dramatic music was also used to heighten senses to the occasions depicted. The tone of the reporters voice also leant an impression that he was uncovering revelatory and important news.

Choice on how to structure the film was, in my opinion, restricted due to it being decided at the outset to conduct a news story investigation. It was a typical current affairs style news report. Unlike Angela, I felt that not enough balance was offered, that the film was skewed in favor to the suggestion that cyber-bullying is a dangerous, even immoral problem due entirely to some unsaid inherent evil contained within cyberspace. The parents and victims who featured were all depicted as exasperated and confused, wrong-footed by some unknown thing.

The over-riding impression left on me after watching the film, was that the makers wanted to express a view that bullying, today, is on the increase and parents should be aware that their children are not necessarily safe at home. The nefarious effects of school-yard bullying, which they may be familiar with, is now even more mystifyingly potent than ever, courtesy of the strange influence on their children of online social networking. This is the supposed news. The internet can potentially upset your child to the extent that they suicide.

The subject of bullying in school playgrounds cascading over into the private lives of bullying victims due to the eager adoption of internet powered social networking sites is an interesting one. A documentary exploring this subject, if done impartially and without an over-riding agenda, such as the news agenda in this case, would be interesting.

This documentary left me with a lot of questions. It didn’t really answer any, rather it left me frustrated as it became apparent that the makers were interested purely in creating a buzzy news story. They weren’t interested in fleshing out the subject and offering some valid insight. They just wished to exploit a news story. Once you go down this path, it’s not really necessary to conduct any research because you can just make it fit with the agenda during the edit.