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Documentary Interviews

One of the lectures we had recently was about filming interviews for documentaries. I always thought this was pretty standard: sit someone down, get them to chat, intercut with archival footage or still photographs, perhaps throw in a little Ken Burns zoom if it's a really important point to be made, and you've got yourself a documentary. What I realized amidst our filming exercise was that these are not the documentaries that I particularly enjoy watching. In fact, the documentary films that I have made in this style are only enjoyable to me because I can watch them and constantly try to fix them; otherwise they would seem quite bland. One of the reasons I clung to this structure so ardently was because I was having a hard time "showing" instead of "telling". This is particularly challenging for me in terms of documentary film making. However, my group for this project raised some good points and helped me to understand some (embarrassingly obvious) techniques to combat this hurdle. 1.) Choose only the most important piece of dialogue, and then whittle that down even more.

2.) The actions that the subject does can be symbolic of what they are talking about. 3.) Give the viewer time and space to process the images that they are seeing - there does not always need to be a constant dialogue or explanation. Sometimes (most of the time?) subtext is more powerful than the actual spoken text. Below is the video (titled "Pilgrimage") that my group created where we utilized these three key elements:

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