Lecture #3

Point of today’s lecture is to help with our developments for our doco. Treatment is due in a few weeks.

Every clip that we watch we need to do a lot of deconstruction about it and reflect on them. We started off with another segment of a doco. Talking about time and the past.

3 questions: When we ask ourselves these questions we may all come up with different answers…we will have different opinions. In our treatments we should all note what we want to come out of the film…
Why are we going to make this film? – We want to tell some kind of story, something interesting, something beautiful. We might have done some research and we just want to explain to the rest of the world about that particular topic.
What’s going to happen in it?
How could we describe what’s going to happen in it?

“The thing that can salvage the documentary amid the meaningless glut of images is Form.” – he makes a great point that it is something we need to really concentrate on.
“More important still is the personal vision of the director.”
– Pawel Pawlikowski –

Here comes another clip:
last week we saw a doco that glorifies drinking. We are watching this sequence to offset last weeks clip…
When the two subjects are being interviewed(mother and son) – would have been relatively candid. When we watch the main subjects interview you can tell it has been set up. Going through her lines. She has notes. They would have gona through many interview processes.

‘The Thin Blue Line’ – another clip
Shows that you don;t have to be locked in to the traditional informational style of documentary. You can recreate – but have to be careful you don’t rely on acting skills. Interesting to compare it to drama. Smaller budget. It is shot on a shoestring, it is reasonably accomplished.
AND ANOTHER CLIP…will notice that there is quite a lot of intercuts. One person is saying something and another is contradicting the other, or they could be agreeing, or they could be conflicting slightly.

In documentary there is a lot more space to experiment.

‘Metal y Melancolia’ – a clip
The director and the camera operator don;t miss a trick. They have their techniques sorted out. Its a difficult thing to hand hold camera, and move the way they did. From one shot to another. You get the feeling the subject has shown the ‘trick’ to someone else before.

The point of the last clip is to show us the tricks of the trade. The tools that we have, the weapons we have in our arsenal. All the different ways and techniques.

Interviews: Audio as voice, over, music, soundscapes, drama, montage

So that’s all…folks.


More on concept

Sitting here on train and my brain is going crazy thinking about my documentary. We haven’t decided on a story yet. I feel, however, that my idea is strong and even if we don’t get to do it it would be good to flesh it out perhaps for the future.

Anyway, the doco is on my sister. An incredible person. We are introduced to her as any regular 23 year old girl. She studies psychology, has a steady boyfriend and does yoga. As we go deeper and deeper into her life and get to know her and understand her a little more we suddenly find out her real passion in life. The thing that she loves doing and couldn’t live without – pole dancing. it’s a pretty interesting twist to a story that will keep the viewer engaged and hungry for more. Elli is an advanced pole dancer. She doesn’t do it as a stripper but simply for exercise, enjoyment and empowerment. It’s an interesting thought because people generally match pole dancing with stripping but it is totally different for Elli. The visuals will be stunning as we see her upside down, hovering, spinning and doing the splits. It’s seriously an art form…

That’s that for now. I have more to expand on but my train is arriving at Melbourne central.


Lab #2

A documentary by Cuban filmmaker, Santiago Alvarez – ‘Now’.

In a sense he is a renegade filmmaker. Known for making a lot of political work. Lots of his work is made from found material (pirated stuff), things he has stolen, acquired. Things from other people doco’s, fiction work and he bends it for his own purpose.

Optical printer – majority of the effects are done on an optical printer. Had to be reprinted off the original material and you use the device. They are all planned. Very intentional.

This documentary along with many others demonstrates how a documentary can take a number of forms.

The next doco we are watching is by Charles and Ray Eames – famous for their furniture and their ply wood chair. The film is from these designer’s office.

‘A Rough Sketch’ – pretty interesting, whacky, odd piece of work.

‘Powers of Ten’ – The same with a different narrator…

Very nice lab. We have all our groups organised and I am very excited and happy with who I am working with. We all seem like similar thinking people. Should be good!


Now we are going through some of our concepts that we cam up with over the past week.


First Doco Conecpt

Here is my very first concept for a documentary:

We follow the life of an ordinary young lady with very interesting and unusual talents and interests. This girl has been involved in 4 different university courses, travelled the world and is super athletic. She is currently studying psychology and is a qualified yoga teacher. And by the way, she is also an advanced pole dancer. Not in the stripping sense but simply for exercise – her fitness and strength is breathtaking. She is considered one of the best in her class.

We don’t see any conventional speaker-to-interviewer footage but rather voice over while we see the story on screen. She is introduced at the beginning staring into the camera and we hear her voice but her mouth doesn’t move. There is music throughout the documentary and we hear this girl as she tells her story.

There will be plenty of visuals of her day-to-day life and intriguing, eye-opening shots of her skills and talents.

8K Radius

Something I was extremely involved in over the holidays and is extremely relevant to what our main focus for the semester is was 8K Radius – Stories from near. The project involved the Classic Cinemas in Elsternwick and director Clayton Jacobson (Kenny). The idea was to connect the community and put local identities on the big screen. The concept was to find people within an 8 Kilometre Radius of the Classic cinema and tell their story.

So, that what happened. 9 ordinary people living in the city of Glen Eira were found and Clayton Jacobson beautifully created 9 mini documentary’s about their lives. Some of the personalities included a Kiwi dog walker, a burlesque costume designer and milinner assistant, a rat fancier and a polish vodka bar manager. Such interesting stories were told and these people were put in the lime light.

The project premiered at the Classic CInema for the Glen Eira Storytelling Festival. The 9 documentary’s are currently showing before every feature film at the Classic for the next few months. Every week a new documentary is shown. Jacobson masterfully tells these people’s stories in such an engaging, moving way. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and it in a way has started a whole new way of cinema – hyper-local content. It’s so interesting to me.

This project has really inspired me for this course and it has really got my mind ticking and working. I love the way Jacobson made the doco’s and i feel that i want to mimic his style and take on a new story but execute it in a similar fashion. No conventional face-to-face interviews or boring, cliched ways. We get introduced to the subject at the beginning and we see footage of their day to day doings while they speak/narrate over the top. The vision should be the main priority. Anyways….i thought it was a very original way of cinema and very relevant as we are studying documentary this semester…and in my eyes, this is the best form of it.

Here are some links if you want to get some more information or even catch one before a screening at the Classic. Here are articles from The Age and Bayside Magazine and here is some information from the Classic page. Enjoy!!

Lecture #2

Let’s do this. Film TV2. Week 2. Lecture. Go!

This lecture and the next 3 or 4 are designed quite purely for us to develop our documentary and how we’re going to go research and write it. WE will be shown a few films and Paul we let us know why it interests him. We have to deconstruct various work. We have to work out what can be done in these magical 6 minute doco’s. We will be shown various genres, styles forms and cultures. Nothing worse than producing the exact same sort of doco’s.

This first documentary we will be shown is Australia’s most successful surf film. It premiered at the Sydney Opera House. This scene is exciting for many reasons, artistically, mechanically etc. This surfer has a dream…

Immediately the music kicks in…very appropriate surfy music. We are shown what looks like a junk yard. The subject has long blonde hair and is wearing very scruffy-like clothing. Its a very rough, raw scene. Colours are very subtle and washed out. Music stops suddenly when car is crushed in junk-yard. Shift in music and scene. We hear birds and colours are brighter as we hear the subject talk and describe his doings. He speaks very fast as if he is reading something. He seems very odd and eccentric. Suddenly there is another shift as he mentions he wants to fit in some surfing later that day. We interchange between beautiful surfing scenes and him continuing to weld and create his boat. Again, a new song. In terms of the filmmaking we can see a big chunk of it is staged. The director is conscious of shooting drama. We see the glance of the black man looking at him in the 44 gallon drum. It is set up and we therefore are led to believe that he is looking at him and thinking how crazy he is when really the man may not have looked at him at all but simply glanced to the side.

This next documentary is by a Chilean filmmaker. Has a unique way of telling a story. Immediately exquisite shots of telescope. Close ups and then shots of the moon with a stirring score. We shift to a little home. Such a stark contrast between the universal moon and a small local home. We hear birds and dogs barking in the distance. Such beautiful lighting and strong colours. Such a soothing storytelling voice/narrator. This director, to me, has made what seems like a boring topic into an intriguing one. The shots, sounds and storytelling make it so compelling and breathtaking. It has a mystical, secret feel to it.

Here’s some little pointers of what we need to do and work on:

  • Narrow the focus – deepen the film
  • Always seek the centre of your film by assuming that you may not have it.
  • Narrowing its scope always benefits a film because it makes you seek and expand its essence.
  • Tightly focussed films that go deep are always beteer than broad ones.


Everything imaginable, apparently, went wrong with this film. The treatment did not match the film at all. Despote all this the film turned out great. Very moving and emotional.

Seeya next week! Or at the tute…