jrn 572 - lecture four

of 44 /44
JRN 572 - Researching & Writing the News Documentary Rich Hanley, Associate Professor Lecture Four

Author: rich-hanley

Post on 10-Feb-2017

385 views

Category:

Education


2 download

Embed Size (px)

TRANSCRIPT

JRN 572 - Researching & Writing the News Documentary

JRN 572 - Researching & Writing the News DocumentaryRich Hanley, Associate ProfessorLecture Four

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Overview:

We will cover the principles of the narrative voice-over before we tackle the research piece because we need to know why a deep dive must accompany all documentaries.

If we know what the narrative requires, we will know what to seek in our research.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Overview:

A fuller treatment of scriptwriting including more formatting material and details on shots and sequences, , etc. will follow the research piece.

Right now, though, lets see where that research needs to go the narrative voice-over script - before we undertake that long, often frustrating process.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Overview:

Please note: the method under discussion this week is the so-called Voice of God narrative voice-over.

It is written in the third-person: an all-knowing entity who brings the story forward with expository information and information on the backstory (history of a thing).

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Overview:

Please read the assigned chapter in Bernard as it contains information not presented in the lecture.

We do not use the lecture to restate material published in the book, so please do not think of this as a substitute to the required reading.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Overview:

Also, please keep in mind the material Bernard presents as well as the material in this lecture presentation when viewing the curated films posted for the week.

Each film contains a narrative voice-over that is expertly crafted under the principles covered this week.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Review:

First a review.

To date, we have covered the history of documentary films and pinpointed the rise of the genre in the career of John Grierson.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Review:

Grierson perfected the definition of the documentary as a film based on the drama of everyday life.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Review:

The documentary film is thus a genre rooted in factual stories that are not staged and are socially relevant at some level.

In short, documentaries are factual informational works expressed in a creative way from the idea selected to pursue to its production quality.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Review:

Bill Nichols has identified various modes in which documentaries are produced.

The six are: expository; poetic; observational; participatory; reflexive; and performative.

Modes can be mixed and matched.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Review:

Bernard identified critical structural elements common to all successful documentaries.

Structure, she wrote, permitted the telling of complex, complicated stories through simple containers known as acts to make the story coherent to the audience.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Review:

Bernard wrote that structure is embedded in the narrative spine of the story.

That spine provides the supporting infrastructure around which to braid complexity yet have the story make sense to the audience.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

And now that brings us to a critical component of structure: the narrative voice-over.

We will explore its role and how it functions within a documentary film as an introduction to the process of making a documentary.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

First, it is important to note that not all documentaries require a voice-over, as we have seen this semester.

Yet most do include a voice-over, particularly in long-form works that require expository information impossible to convey any way else.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

The writing in documentary writing usually means the composition of the voice-over script, even though we have learned that writing is a flexible word as it also means the capacity to string together interviews to form a whole. Here we mean writing.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

The narrative voice-over functions as a device to distribute information to the audience, as scholar Bong S, Eliab has put it.

It serves as part of the aural motif of the story, presenting information as required to move the story along.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Lets examine the process of what a voice-over is and how it is developed to work either as a shooting script or as a script composed during or after the production process.

First, think of this as a shooting script.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

The process begins with the usual questions:

1. Why is the film being made?2. What is the message?3. Who is the audience?4. What does the audience know about the subject?5. What is the budget?

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

These factors contribute significantly to the nature of the script for the simple reason that, at the end of the day, film like any other art is a product. Artistry must go hand in hand with practicality, production technicalities and, of course, economics. - Trisha Das

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Lets say we have landed on an idea and have conducted research and determined that we want to write a piece that requires a narrative voice-over.

What is the narrative voice-over?

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Narration is the sound-track commentary that sometimes accompanies a visual image in a documentary, Das explained.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

The voice-over is generally read by an unseen person who is reading from a script.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

This style is popular because it is an effective, time-tested and inexpensive approach to presenting verbal information that cannot be otherwise communicated.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

In the process of presenting information, the script also performs several other functions.

These are:

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Functions:1. Creates the hook.2. Establishes train or, as Das describes core assertion. 3. Creates curiosity.4. Shows change, transitions.5. Creates consequence.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

When voice-overs are required, a format can be followed as revealed in the Coliseum piece posted in Lecture Three.

That format includes:

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Format:1. Inciting incident/beginning written as part of a cold open, or open prior to title sequence (Coliseum imploded)

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Format:2. Middle, serving as the expository element in between interviews, the so-called talking heads and serving to manage sequential transition shifts as the story moves from one point to another.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Format:2a. Also in the middle, the voice-over script establishes the backstory (i.e., the history)

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Format:3. End, consolidating any loose plot points and referencing the core assertion established at the start of the documentary. 4. The end can be firm or ambiguous, depending on the subject.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Through the beginning, middle and end, the voice-over script must control the three Cs:1. Character.2. Conflict.3. Change.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Character1. Presents a factual human face to the story. This can be a key interview subject or the subject itself.2. Characters are presented because they initiate events or can witnessed events.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Character (continued)3. Characters may be the filmmaker. Think of Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock or Louis Theroux.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Conflict1. No conflict, no story, no universal message delivered by a particular circumstance revealed in the documentary.2. Conflict plays out between characters, or generations or ideas.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Conflict (continued)3. The Principle of Antagonism holds for this C.4. In short, intense conflicts make for intense documentaries, and the audience likes intensity.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Conflict (continued)5. Outer Conflict occurs when the character faces external forces that must be overcome. 6. Inner Conflict occurs when the character confronts psychological or internal factors that must be overcome.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Change1. External (say, time) or internal (say, a life event) change is the motor of documentary films.

2. As Das wrote, Situation A changes to Situation B.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Change (continued)3. The first two Cs almost write themselves, but the third C change presents a fourth C a challenge the scriptwriter because it must be presented clearly and with dramatic flair even if small in scope.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Say the research has revealed the factual information for the hook, etc. and the information supporting Character, Conflict and Change are in place, what do you do next?

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Make sure you stick to writing for the screen.

Remember: only one person will read the voice-over script the narrator.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Here are some tips:1. Show, dont tell.2. Make sure action/movement are central to the work as shown.3. Dont get bogged down in needless detail that defeats action/movement.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Here are some tips (continued):4. Maintain visual pertinence. Remember, there are images, often moving images, displayed on the screen as the narrators voice-over fills the audio channel (along with, perhaps, music and sound effects).

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Here are some tips (continued):5. Maintain emotional relevance. Dont let the story drag or fall flat. Let the emotions breath by adding space and time to the voice-over script. All words all the time defeat emotion. Quiet time is good.

JRN 572 - News Documentary

Understanding Story: Narration

Here are some tips (continued):6. Keep it simple, with short, crisp sentences consisting of a single independent clause or, for a change in pacing, a dependent clause at the top of a sentence followed by a short independent clause.