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Our Last Lecture

• Note on Course Requirements


• Old Syllabus
• Fourth paper eliminated
• Three – the third due before May 10
• Average of three = 40% of grade
• Comprehensive Final Exam = 40 %
• Next Week
Exam
• Be on time
• Part of exam will be to respond to
videos
• Much of it multiple choice
• Or short answer or short essay
• Review - http://jmsc.hku.hk/blogs/
Review
• Elements of Style
• Some original film makers
• Ken Burns
• Errol Morris
• Nick Broomfield
• Ross McElwee
• Michael Moore
Review
• Reflexive Film Making
• The film - as much about the filmmaker
as about the film subject
• Les Nouvelles Egotiste
• Compare American “Gonzo” journalism
of 60’s, 70’s, 80’s Hunter S. Thompson
• Moore, Spurlock, McElwee, Broomfield
Review
• Errol Morris

• http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/play-it-again-sam-re-enactments-part-one/index.html?th&e

th
Review

• Cinema Verite’
• Direct Cinema
• Jean Rouch
• The Maysles Brothers
• Frederick Wiseman
Influential CV Filmmakers
• Jean Rouch (1917-2004)
engineer Africa, journalist with AFP
• Chronique d'un été (Chronicle of a
Summer) 1961
Albert Maysles (1926 - )
• Since 1955 has directed/produced more
than 40 documentaries
• The Salesman (1969)
• Grey Gardens – (1976 and updated in
2006 on DVD)
• Gimme Shelter (1970)
Frederick Wiseman (1930 - )
One critic said
• “Frederick Wiseman is arguably the most
important American documentary filmmaker
of the past three decades. A law professor turned
filmmaker in 1967, Wiseman, in his most dramatically
powerful documentaries, chronicles the exercise of
power in American society by focusing on the
everyday life.”
• http://www.zipporah.com/

• An argumentative, self promoting &


uncompromising filmmaker
Frederick Wiseman
• Wiseman films: (more than 40)
• Institutional subjects
• Titicut Follies (1967)
• High School (1968) *
• High School II (1994)
• Near Death (1989)
Disciples of Wiseman
• In Hong Kong and China, Wiseman
has influenced film makers like Tammy
Cheung.
• Secondary School (2002)
• Also Zhou Hao, Senior Year (2005)
Development of Cinema Verite
• From the mid 1950’s onward
• First in film /then video tape
• Cameras became smaller
• Less obtrusive
• More flexibility for the documentary film
maker
• Allowing Direct Cinema to develop
The Debate
“Truth” in documentary films
• Can you capture truth
on camera?
• Does the camera affect the subject of a
film
• How much structure should a film have
• How much intervention by the
filmmaker
Review
• Variations in Direct Cinema Style
• Pure DC – observational, no narration, no
interviews, few titles, as little
intrusion as possible
• CV – setting up some situations,
directing, some interviews, no narration
• Permissible to impose, intervene in the
pursuit of truth – issue 1st raised by Flaherty
• Most work a combination of all CV forms
• Final directors decisions in editing room
China Filmmakers
• CCTV http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbDPWwILEWw&feature=related

• Independents
• Motivations
• Wu Wenguang
• Hu Jie
• Zhao Dayong
China Filmmakers
• A mixture of CV – with little intervention
• Un-narrated films with interviews and a
good deal of intervention
• Some disciplined
• some western critics might find overly
long and undisciplined
• Rebellious
• Focus on history and underclass
Your Film
• Making a documentary film
• Elements for success
• A story to tell
• Financing
• A strong visual conceptualization
• Strong characters
• Strong dramatic arc
• Distribution and promotion
Dramatic Arc
Your Film
• Making a documentary film….
• Difficult
• A few examples of broadcast documentaries
with simple ideas and execution
• Daughter From DaNang (2001)
Principle ingredient a single character
with a good story to tell

• Good Morning Baghdad (2003)


A dangerous place and a clear POV
Your Film
• The Vehicles for distribution
• Film Festivals http://www.documentaryfilms.net/festivals.htm
• TV
• Channel 4
http://www.channel4.com/news/about_us/filmmaking.html

• Discovery Channel First Time


• China Film Makers Project 2003-05
http://corporate.discovery.com/news/press/05q3/050708r.html
Your Film
• How to books and courses
• Directing the Documentary
by Michael Rabiger (2004) 4th ed.
Further Readings
• A lot out there
• On line surfing
• http://www.docurama.com/

• http://eidolonfilms.wordpress.com/

Interesting debate about a new film called


“Billy the Kid”
http://movies.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/movies/05kid.html

http://billythekiddocumentary.blogspot.com/2007/08/documentary-film-
truth-marketability.html
And finally …
• Thanks for your attention
• Questions?
• Exam next week
• Be on time
• Peter Wintonick: CV: Defining the
Moment (NFB)
Documentary Dollars
• Fahrenheit 9/11 $120 million
• Sicko $ 24.5 million
• Roger & Me $ 6.7 million
• Other big films
• March of the Penguins $ 77 m (#2)
• An Inconvenient Truth $24.1m
• Super Size Me $ 11.5 m [65g to make?]
Source: boxofficemojo.com