Top 5 Archive Documentaries

Archive material can be used in so many creative and innovative ways. Here is a break down of the best archive documentaries out there, some of the techniques they use and where to watch them.

5: HyperNormalisation’ (2016)

Director Adam Curtis is known for his blend of authoritative voice over, hypnotic music and juxtaposing archive footage and ‘Hypernormalisation’ is no exception. In his exploration of the ‘fake world’ we now live in, Curtis uses contrasting archive footage to illustrate his essay and to create new meaning. While the tone of his narration is closer to a news story, it lacks the same objectivity.  It places him in a position of authority resulting in audiences being more likely to accept what he says as the truth, despite a lack of hard evidence.

Available on BBC iPlayer or in full on Youtube

4: ‘Notes on Blindness’ (2016)

Built around Professor John Hull’s audio diary tapes, ‘Notes on Blindness’ depicts the emotional impact the deterioration of sight has on Hull and his family.

The film utilises dramatic reconstructions alongside the original audio from Hull’s tapes, rather than voice over from a talking head interview. This allows for a more immersive cinematic experience and audiences are made to feel more connected to Hull and his wife, Marilyn.

Available on Amazon and Netflix 

4:Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief‘ (2015)

Adapted from the 2013 Pulitzer-Prize winning book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, the documentary explores the secret world and the inner dealings of the Church of Scientology.

Director, Alex Gibney, provides an in-depth history of the church and in doing so presents the reasons in which people feel compelled to join.

Through the use of archive footage, some modern B-roll and talking head interviews with a number of former members of Scientology audiences are shown what happens to members as they try to leave the Church.

It is, in my opinion, the best film about Scientology out there.

Available in full on Youtube

2: ‘Cobain: Montage of Heck’ (2015)

Montage of Heck is an example of expertly utilising access. As he was approached by the subject of the film’s widow, Courtney Love, director Brett morgen had access to never before seen home footage and photographs, unheard songs from Nirvana’s archive and Cobain’s artwork and journals. Along with talking head interviews with friends and family and stylised animation the film shines a new light on the life of the music legend.

Available on Netflix  and in full on Youtube

1: Amy (2015)

Asif Kapadia’s ‘Amy’ is built up of archive footage of the star with the audio from interviews with those who know her best, including her father Mitch and her muse/ex-husband Blake. The director uses the lyrics Winehouse wrote as a narrative map to tell her story. The words she wrote reveal more about the inner workings of her mind than the other narrative devices.

The film is remarkable and will captivate audiences, whether you’re a fan of her music or otherwise.

Available on Amazon and in full on Youtube

 

 

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Musings: Pierrot le fou (1965)

Pierrot le Fou is Jean-Luc Godard’s road movie based on Lionel White’s novel ‘Obsession’. After World War II, there was a rise in cinephillia across France when Ciné clubs became popular. These clubs allowed people to immerse themselves and engage with cinema from around the world. The cinématheque Français was key to the French New Wave movement as it provided the future directors and critics with the majority of their knowledge of the film industry.

Continue reading “Musings: Pierrot le fou (1965)”

Working with Archive Film

Here is an exercise we had to complete for my course:

Working with Archive exercise – Diane Di Prima: Women of the Beat Generation from Elizabeth-Valentina on Vimeo.

Using only footage/interviews and music from other sources we had to produce a 2 minute short film on a topic of our choice. As a result, I do not own any of to footage or audio featured in this video.

In my research I found a great zine called BEATDOM . Each issue is themed and full of essays from academics, fans and creative writers with unique perspectives of the writers of the Beat Generation.  Themes include, the contribution of women to the literary movement and the Beat’s drug and alcohol (ab)use.

Continue reading “Working with Archive Film”

Life on Two Spectrums

As part of my course at UCL I recently completed a short observational film called ‘Life on Two Spectrums’. It is a short documentary project looking at the experiences of members of the LGBTQ+ community with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome. The film follows Dan ‘Tia Anna’ Kahn, a drag queen with Asperger’s Syndrome who founded A.S.P.E.C.S (Autistic and Aspergers Persons of Every Category of (Queer) Sexuality) a support and networking group to help address the needs of the neurodiverse members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Watch below or at https://vimeo.com/199202763

Life on Two Spectrums: Autism and the LGBTQ+ community. from Elizabeth-Valentina on Vimeo.

Impact Distribution: A 12 Step Guide

If you’ve got an impact project, distribution can be even more complex but it can also mean there are more opportunities available to you.

With impact projects your primary goal should be to 1) get your film seen by as many people as possible and 2) to get it seen by the right people in order to achieve the outcome you wanted when making the film.

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BRITDOC’s Impact Guide: has some great information on how to successfully merge distribution and impact in a way that in mutually beneficial, cost effective and efficient.  Impact Distribution is about compromise and ensuring that both the impact and commercial return are optimised. The two can even feed into each other, creating the widest possible distribution using marketing and press buzz helps to build strong relationships with movements, charities, the press and influencers and these relationships then help with marketing and outreach. Continue reading “Impact Distribution: A 12 Step Guide”

Vlogs vs. Docs

Vlogging is a deeply personal, informal way of connecting with large audiences. At Sheffield Doc Fest 2016’s ‘Vlogs Vs. Docs’ panel, Jolyon Rubinstein from ‘The Revolution will be Televised’ said Youtubers connect with their audiences ‘in a way that alludes commissioners’.

The under 25 audiences connects with this content because they see the people who produce them to be ‘just like them’. Their honesty is the source of their power and watching their videos becomes a part of their subscribers everyday lives.

Watching television is a laid back form of consumption whereas vloggers are able to actively engage with their community and take audience feedback on board much quicker, making vlogging much more of a two way connection. This two way connection is likely to be one of the reasons the under 25s engage with vloggers so much.

Another way in which television and vlogs are different is the level of regulation. Only recently, (as of August 2015), did the ASA implement regulations in the UK regarding product placement and branded content for Vlogs. These regulations do not stipulate that vloggers can’t enter into a commercial relationship with a brand in the UK. They do however state that if a Youtuber is including paid product placement in a video they must disclaim it. Amazingly though this is still not the case in the States, I worry about the effect these ‘advertorials’ and product placements are having on the very young youtube audience who engage with and idolise these vloggers as they might not realise the youtubers are being paid to say they love the products they are endorsing.

Companies have to deal with tough restrictions when it comes to most advertising platforms so it is no surprise we’re seeing a rise in the number of companies reaching out to popular Youtubers and taking advantage of the unregulated online space.

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However, a vast majority of vloggers are very young. Fully understanding and complying with the rules and regulations is a big responsibility and it can have considerable repercussions. Vlogger, Jonathan Joly  advised bloggers to bear in mind that ‘The internet doesn’t forget.’ and that you have to be careful about which companies you align yourself with.