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The 6 Types of
Documentaries
Poetic
Documentaries
• Poetic documentaries started in the the1920s and they are basically
what they sound like. This type of documentary focuses on
experiences, and images as well as showing different points of view
of what the world looks like in different eyes. In form and content,
you can make this sub-genre very unconventional and experimental.
The main goal when creating a poetic documentary is to create
feeling instead of truth.
• Poetic documentaries offer an important lesson by experimenting
with all of the elements of creating a documentary by using creative
compositions such as difficult juxtapositions and different ways of
storytelling. A great example of this is Terrence Malick’s Voyage of
Time. This includes a variety of ambiguous, poetic, abstract imagery.
• If you want to move away from the reality of a situation, people or
inner truth, the poetic mode is the best way to go. This shows the
audience an abstract, subjective, representation of reality which you
can achieve through extra visuals and a narrative that is created to fit
the mood of the documentary instead of making more logical and
linear.
3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3
2
Expository Documentaries
• A lot of people consider expository documentaries a ‘proper documentary’.
This form of documentary is there to inform and/or persuade their audience
and it includes the ‘Voice of God’ narration which is in contrast to poetic. The
elements of this documentary include interviews, illustrative visuals, some
reality and some graphics and photos. Having a scripted narration helps to
connect all the elements as well as unpacking a theory or an argument.
• Straightforward expository style is the best way to share information or a
message for those who are wanting a more direct form of storytelling.
Because the audience isn’t encouraged to interrogate the given images and
narrative on their own, it can be argued that a preferred meaning is
constructed. Even though some people that this theoretically misrepresented
reality, the intention of this form of documentary is to educate their audience
which shows that research had been taken to present a specific view.
3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3
3
Participatory Documentary
• In a participatory documentary, there is a relationship
between the film-maker and the subjects they’re talking
about which is clear to the audience. Asking questions
and sharing their opinions, the film-maker can be seen
on the screen quite frequently. This form of
documentary started in the 1960s and increased in
popularity in the 1980s and still is to this day. Nick
Broomfield and Michael Moore often starred in their
own films with the leading role which had significant
financial and critical success.
3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3
4
Observational Documentaries
• This form of documentary started in the 1960s.
To shoot in low light, they use smaller cameras
and faster lenses and attempt to document
their subject with as little intrusion and
intervention as possible. To shoot in low light,
they use smaller cameras and faster lenses
and attempt to document their subject with
intrusion and interventions little as possible.
This is the most popular form of documentary
to be analysed and it is most commonly
referred to as cinema verite, direct cinema or
‘fly-on-the-wall’. A grumpy man known as
Frederick Wiseman worked on the background
from the 60s and created a documentary
called High School.
• When the audience watches an observational
documentary, they can come to their own
conclusions so they are not manipulated by
visuals or voiceovers. They are able to create
their own conclusions because the images
they use are simple observations. A lot of
people agree that this form of documentary
shows a more accurate representation of
reality.
3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3
5
Reflexive
• Reflexive documentaries have evolved since
the 1980s. As Bill Nichols wrote, this was to
provoke audiences to question the authenticity
of documentaries in general. However, it had
challenged assumptions and expectations
about how it is formed. They focused on how
and why the process of making films is
constructed in certain ways. In the 1992 Aileen
Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, Nick
Broomfield focuses on getting an interview with
Wuornos. Louis Theroux explored the process
of how to get access to celebrities in a reflexive
documentary.
3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3
6
Performative
Performative documentaries are more personal and
focused on the subject ideas and they are of importance
to the filmmaker or the subject. This is the opposite of the
objective documentary. A performative documentary
shows more of a larger social, political or historical reality
but through what they have experienced. The filmmaker
becomes a personal guide in their own documentary and
it shows more of a raw emotion.
3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3
7

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The 6 Types of Documentaries.pptx

  • 1. The 6 Types of Documentaries
  • 2. Poetic Documentaries • Poetic documentaries started in the the1920s and they are basically what they sound like. This type of documentary focuses on experiences, and images as well as showing different points of view of what the world looks like in different eyes. In form and content, you can make this sub-genre very unconventional and experimental. The main goal when creating a poetic documentary is to create feeling instead of truth. • Poetic documentaries offer an important lesson by experimenting with all of the elements of creating a documentary by using creative compositions such as difficult juxtapositions and different ways of storytelling. A great example of this is Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time. This includes a variety of ambiguous, poetic, abstract imagery. • If you want to move away from the reality of a situation, people or inner truth, the poetic mode is the best way to go. This shows the audience an abstract, subjective, representation of reality which you can achieve through extra visuals and a narrative that is created to fit the mood of the documentary instead of making more logical and linear. 3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3 2
  • 3. Expository Documentaries • A lot of people consider expository documentaries a ‘proper documentary’. This form of documentary is there to inform and/or persuade their audience and it includes the ‘Voice of God’ narration which is in contrast to poetic. The elements of this documentary include interviews, illustrative visuals, some reality and some graphics and photos. Having a scripted narration helps to connect all the elements as well as unpacking a theory or an argument. • Straightforward expository style is the best way to share information or a message for those who are wanting a more direct form of storytelling. Because the audience isn’t encouraged to interrogate the given images and narrative on their own, it can be argued that a preferred meaning is constructed. Even though some people that this theoretically misrepresented reality, the intention of this form of documentary is to educate their audience which shows that research had been taken to present a specific view. 3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3 3
  • 4. Participatory Documentary • In a participatory documentary, there is a relationship between the film-maker and the subjects they’re talking about which is clear to the audience. Asking questions and sharing their opinions, the film-maker can be seen on the screen quite frequently. This form of documentary started in the 1960s and increased in popularity in the 1980s and still is to this day. Nick Broomfield and Michael Moore often starred in their own films with the leading role which had significant financial and critical success. 3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3 4
  • 5. Observational Documentaries • This form of documentary started in the 1960s. To shoot in low light, they use smaller cameras and faster lenses and attempt to document their subject with as little intrusion and intervention as possible. To shoot in low light, they use smaller cameras and faster lenses and attempt to document their subject with intrusion and interventions little as possible. This is the most popular form of documentary to be analysed and it is most commonly referred to as cinema verite, direct cinema or ‘fly-on-the-wall’. A grumpy man known as Frederick Wiseman worked on the background from the 60s and created a documentary called High School. • When the audience watches an observational documentary, they can come to their own conclusions so they are not manipulated by visuals or voiceovers. They are able to create their own conclusions because the images they use are simple observations. A lot of people agree that this form of documentary shows a more accurate representation of reality. 3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3 5
  • 6. Reflexive • Reflexive documentaries have evolved since the 1980s. As Bill Nichols wrote, this was to provoke audiences to question the authenticity of documentaries in general. However, it had challenged assumptions and expectations about how it is formed. They focused on how and why the process of making films is constructed in certain ways. In the 1992 Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, Nick Broomfield focuses on getting an interview with Wuornos. Louis Theroux explored the process of how to get access to celebrities in a reflexive documentary. 3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3 6
  • 7. Performative Performative documentaries are more personal and focused on the subject ideas and they are of importance to the filmmaker or the subject. This is the opposite of the objective documentary. A performative documentary shows more of a larger social, political or historical reality but through what they have experienced. The filmmaker becomes a personal guide in their own documentary and it shows more of a raw emotion. 3 / 2 0 / 2 0 2 3 7