Here we are. Judgement day. After 5 weeks of analysing documentaries with my own novice eye, a bit of introspection might be just what I need.
I’ll start with the easy part – working with the class. In our face-to-face meetings, the discussions had in COAS250 have been enlightening. I’ve enjoyed hearing views from people both at my own level, and those that have studied and been a part of film, acting and editing throughout their university degree. It’s also been wonderful disagreeing about certain documentary functions and techniques, as well as being utterly confused by others.
However, in internet land, the discussions have been less rewarding. Well, they’ve been non-existent. I’ve tried twice to comment on classmates’ blogs but am still awaiting moderation. Hopefully this isn’t because my questions are insanely dull or foolish. I’d say it’s probably due to the small size of the class. Knowing everyone can make commenting critically a bit awkward. So, I shan’t hold anything against anyone for not wanting to chat with my cyber self.
Now, to what I’ve learnt. Looking over my blog posts I’ve found a few key areas or ideas that stand out.
The first is, naturally, the idea of subjectivity and objectivity and defining who’s ‘truth’ a documentary might portray. The general consensus is that a documentary, despite its possibly banal subject matter, will always be framed differently by every film-maker. They cannot help but construct meaning via expression and narrative subjectively. The notion of ‘representing truth’ has gone out the window. I now understand that documenting something will either demand a performance in the ‘re-enactment’ sense, or effect the lived experience of reality because of the presence of the camera and all its connotations.
Of course, within that first point ethics is included, as subjectivity can always transform into unadulterated propaganda being upheld as ‘fact’. But I think, for my own uses, I’ve come to consider the ethics of utilising people through the course of making a documentary as even more significant. While being unethical may affect the film, any negligent actions affecting people should probably be your first concern.
Finally, my battle with documentaries that depend on poetry and expression to convey meaning. Now, my thoughts on this have been substantially negative, but hopefully I’m growing. While struggling to be ‘entertained’ by the silent, abstract films viewed in class, I’ve definitely become more open to interpreting what they mean and seeing their value.
All in all, a tip top month.