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There were good and bad storytellers.

A good one could tell the same story over and over again, and it would always be fresh to us, the listeners. He or she could tell a story told by someone else and make it more alive and dramatic.
Ngg wa Thiong'o
http://www.ngugiwathiongo.com/

Documentary is not about form, a set of rules that are either followed or not, its an investigation into the nature of the real world, into what people thought and why they thought what they thought.
Errol Morris
The Thin Blue Line The Fog of War Standard Operating Procedure

CORE COMPETENCY FOR NARRATIVE FILMMAKING

coverage
the camera in the right place at the right time for the right reason

MOTION + WRITING

cinematography
motion picture photography
LIGHT + WRITING

Playwright & Screenwriter, theatre & film Director

David Mamet wrote:

Editing is the closest thing to writing. writing in light and motion, your cinematography is the first draft of your documentary story

Agreements:
No such thing as b-roll No such thing as a cutaway

Agreements:
What we mean when we talk about STORY

Agreements:
What we mean when we talk about DOCUMENTARY STORYTELLING

If this is the beginning of our story, what happens next?

If this is the end of our story, what happened before?

If this is the middle of our story: what happened, what will happen?

pick one
beginning, middle or end but must be three shots

A STORY Four relentless door-to-door salesmen deal with constant rejection, homesickness and inevitable burnout as they go across the country selling very expensive bibles to low-income Catholic families.

SALESMAN (1968)
Clip | RT 0:08:08| Cinematographer: Albert Maysles Editors: Charlotte Zwerin & David Maysles

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (1992)


Clip | RT 0:02:54 | http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104348/

ASIDE ON CHARACTER 1

Characters are the stuff of good nonfiction just as much as they are the stuff of fiction.

ASIDE ON CHARACTER 2

We, the audience:


... it's in the nature of our relationship to central figures in a narrative that we want to identify with them, even if we don't much like them.
David Denby
Review of Arbitrage, New Yorker, 24 Sept 2102

narrative cinematography
for

documentary storytelling

narrative
a chronology of events with meaning

MOTION + WRITING

cinematography
motion picture photography
LIGHT + WRITING

documentary
...the creative treatment of actuality.
John Grierson

ASIDE ON CREATIVITY

Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.
John Updike

story

Nope.

STORY is
a detailed character-based narrative of a character's struggles to overcome obstacles in pursuit of a goal or objective which is meaningful.

OT: OUR TOWN


Trailer | OT: Our Town | RT 0:02:33 | http://youtu.be/wlL2_4IbhIs

STORY OT: OUR TOWN


Dominguez High, in the infamous Compton, CA, has not produced a play in over twenty years. With no money and no stage, two teachers and twenty-four students attempt to produce Thornton Wilder's American Classic OUR TOWN.

STORY is
a detailed character-based narrative of a character's struggles to overcome obstacles in pursuit of a goal or objective which is meaningful.

ONLY WHEN I DANCE


Trailer | Only When I Dance | RT 0:03:47 | http://youtu.be/wlL2_4IbhIs

STORY ONLY WHEN I DANCE


Two young kids try to dance their way out of the favelas of Rio. Victory, for those born rich, it comes easy. For the rest of us, we have to fight.

STORY is
a detailed character-based narrative of a character's struggles to overcome obstacles in pursuit of a goal or objective which is meaningful.

THE COLOR OF OLIVES


Promo | The Colour of Olives | RT 0:02:11 | http://youtu.be/_dtE_0crg2w

STORY THE COLOR OF OLIVES


Refusing to leave land that has been in their family for generations, the Amer clan lives surrounded by the West Bank Wall. Each day Hani Amer and his children wait for soldiers to unlock the gate and allow them to go to work and school. Sometimes they wait a very long time.

STORY is
a detailed character-based narrative of a character's struggles to overcome obstacles in pursuit of a goal or objective which is meaningful.

BLUEBIRD
2nd Place: "48 HOUR FEATURE" Category | NPPA Awards, 2013 | RT 0:03:22 | https://nppa.org/spotlight/5071

STORY is
a detailed character-based narrative of a character's struggles to overcome obstacles in pursuit of a goal or objective which is meaningful.

ETHICS

documentary

Nothing gets a bigger laugh than when you refer to things like ethics...
Ron Silver

Excerpt | Pretty Village Pretty Flame | RT 0:01:58 |http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116860/

STAGING?
Can you walk through the door again but a little slower this time?

Whenever you ask someone to repeat an action, or attempt to direct someone, you are "staging". A documentary first principle: Staging action for the camera is journalistically unethical. It's can also be lazy and incompetent the opposite of creative.

Three other good reasons to not stage action in a documentary:


1. You (& your victim) will probably suck at it 2. Your audience isn't stupid 3. (see next slide)

3. SELF-INTEREST: The closer you stick to this principle, not just in documentary but in all your work, whether it's educational or corporate production, the better the final outcome will be.

SITUATIONAL ETHICS 101 When is staging not only okay but appropriate, maybe even necessary?

learning from DRAMA

coverage
event beat shot scene sequence

TEMPLE GRANDIN
CLIP | RT 0:01:20 | www.imdb.com/title/tt1278469/

THE BOURNE SUPREMACY


CLIPDELETED SCENE | RT 0:01:46 | http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0372183/

THE POSSIBILITIES
CLIP | RT 0:01:45 | John Clement

LIGHT OF DAY
CLIP | RT 0:02:15 | Rene Gilbey & John Clement

learning from DOCUMENTARY

coverage
event beat shot scene sequence

SALESMAN (1968)
Clip | RT 0:14:14| Cinematographer: Albert Maysles Editors: Charlotte Zwerin & David Maysles

What drives scene coverage?


FROM INSIDE OUT

1. Given circumstances 2. Objective 3. Conflict 4. Action (strategy/tactics) 5. Moments

21 GRAMS
CLIP | RT 0:01:16 | http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0315733/

Given Circumstances
WHO, WHAT, WHEN, and WHERE of the scene

Objective
What specifically does the character need, want, desire? What's at stake?

Who, what, where, why means nothing if you dont know what the point is.
Nora Ephron

Conflict
What obstacle(s) internal or external stands in the way of our character getting what he or she wants?

Action (strategy/tactics)
What the character(s) does to achieve his or her objective and to make thought and feelings clear.

Moments
Specific islands of import in the storys progression or arc; places in the script where moments can be made, revealed, and/or portrayed dramatically. Victories, defeats, and discoveries are often made there.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

action What drives scene coverage? reaction FROM OUTSIDE IN interaction line of action (continuity line, axis, 180-degree rule) circle of action (internal and external set-ups ) characters in relationship to each other characters in relationship to their environment shot/reverse-shot pairs the "look" entrances/exits THIRTEEN insert/detail RESPONSIBILITIES context/ambience transitions OF COVERAGE

TEMPLE GRANDIN
CLIP | RT 0:01:20 | www.imdb.com/title/tt1278469/

nine-shot story
(scene/sequence)