American Vandal is a Netflix mockumentary series parodying true crime documentaries such as ‘Making a Murderer’. It is about a kid who was expelled from school for spray painting 27 dicks onto teachers cars. However, he claims that he didn’t do it so two students make a documentary trying to prove his innocence. And I found this series very helpful. It came out as I was planning my documentary, so I watched the whole thing in a day for inspiration. The series does an excellent job of satirising and breaking down the codes and conventions of documentaries. I found this useful as it allowed me to focus on the common tropes of how documentaries are made. The things that stood out to me the most was the way interviews are filmed. It inspired me heavily and has influenced the way that I will be filming the interviews in my film.
In my short film I will be conducting a series of interviews. This got me thinking on what kind of lighting I will need to use. I will be hoping to use a basic background, maybe just a simple black backdrop, however I will need good lighting to light the subjects of the interview. I will be using 2 cameras, both in a similar position however one will be more zoomed in on the subject and they will both be to the right hand side but diagonal to the subject. This means that I will need to use 3 sources of light. One in front, one to the side and the final as a backlight. This will mean that there are no shadows on the subjects face, as well as providing a high quality professional looking set up for my interviews.
Long shot is a 40 minute documentary that was just added to Netflix. It tells the story of Juan Catalan, who after being wrongly imprisoned for murder must prove his innocence. Luckily, during the filming of an episode of the HBO series ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ some footage was captured that was able to back up his alibi. This short film was directed by Jacob LaMendola and uses footage from news reports and interviews as well as footage from a baseball game and the episode of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’. I found the footage used in this film to be very inspiring for my short. All of the footage was relevant and linked to what was happening on screen. The story was very engaging as well, and even though the film was 40 minutes, it moved very quickly and kept my attention the whole time. Other than that, this film was pretty basic. Nothing was outstanding, however nothing was bad. There was some stuff that was quite inspiring. As I said I liked the visuals as well as the engaging story.
This short film is a docmentary that takes place over a year and is told through a montage of the directors time in New York accompanied by a group of voicemails that he recieved from his mother during his stay. This short is the best that I have looked at so far. This film is able to evoke a lot of emotion with such a simple premise. The imagery perfectly accompanies the voicemails and the subject matter of the voicemails. For example, when his mother is talking about Donald Trump, there is footage of the protests that proceeded Trumps election. The cinematography in this is beautiful. Almost every shot (except the montage of footage from his phone) is amazing to look at. The framing, the movement, everything is perfect. This, accompanied by the music is able to make the audience feel something real. The music fits flawlessly with the visuals and really boosts the film up to such a high level. I am so inspired by this film, and I will look to it for inspiration when starting my films production.
Before I can complete the final draft for my script and story board, I must collect some research that plays an important part in my short film. This research will be conducted in the form of an interview with a handful of people, and this footage will be incorporated into my short film as well as being the main point of discussion. By doing this before finishing my script it will allow me to have a greater understanding of what I want to say in my short film and I can base my narration on the answers given to the interview questions. I will be asking people in my age group these questions, as this is the age group I want to focus on, but I will also be getting answers from people of different ages so I can get a wider range of opinions.
Are you happy?
No one is safe from Son of Sam is a short film directed by Heath Benfield and is a documentary about the Son of Sam murders. This documentary short is 8 minutes long and is told mostly through archive footage from news and other sources, but there are also a couple of dramatic recreations and interviews. This short film is very engaging, however I have some issues with it. Not much information is provided on the actual murder spree, but it focuses more on the reaction that New York City had to the murders. This causes an issue if the viewer is unaware of the murders that occurred. Although some information is provided, I think it could have benefitted from going into more detail on the case.
The use of the archive news footage works in the films favour as it makes it feel like you are being presented with just fact, as well as tying into the time in which the murders occurred. I think that this is a good way of presenting a documentary, as it provided a lot of facts as well as some emotion when you saw the victims and news articles. The interviews were also helpful as it provided some first hand knowledge and accounts on the events that took place and helped build an idea of peoples reactions to these murders. However, when the short film included the reacreation of the letters being written I thought that it took a lot away from the film. It felt cheesy and out of place in this otherwise facts driven documentary and just did not fit with the rest of the film.
I have decided that my short film will be a documentary focused on the themes of happiness. I will be using interviews, statistics and other outside research to present my ideas on the subject. This is a very personal subject to me and it interests me a lot so I am looking forward to the research and creating the final product. I am currently working on the planning documents which include the script, story board and shot list. In my short I will be not only looking at what makes people happy, but I will be investigating the more generic but somewhat overlooked question “Are you happy?”. This is a question that fascinates me. It is such an open and interesting question. Who is happy? Is happiness different to everyone? Is there even an answer to that question? This is what I want to be looking into when creating my short film. To find peoples answers to this question. To see what makes people happy. And hopefully to look into why people are unhappy.
Tickled is a documentary that dives into the world of competitive tickling. The poster is very simple. There is a huge feather in the middle of the poster, which is a sign that relates to and is associated with tickling. This gives the audience an idea of what the film is about in the most simple way possible. Positioned below the feather is the title of the film. This, again, is very basic and gets straight to the point. To either side of the feather there are quotes taken from reviews of the film. This is a way of encouraging people to see the film, as well as providing some information about the film. The top right one kind of gives some small details on what the film is about. It is written in a way which is encouraging people to see the film. There is also the logo for SunDance which is a well known film festival. This, again, encourages audiences to see the film as it gives it a level of acclaim. The tagline of the film reads “It’s not what you think.” which gives an indication that the documentary is more interesting than just people being tickled. It is also vague and intriguing. This is important for a documentary as the audience has to know that the documentary will be interesting, so that they will actually want to watch it. By using this intriguing tagline audiences will want to come and see what the film is about.
The colours used in the poster are quite basic. The white background may be used as it is a calm colour, and you do not associate tickling with anything negatively, however this is contrasted by the dark text, suggesting that there may be something more sinister to it than just a tickling competition. The font is pretty basic.
The title of the review is just the name of the film, and next to the name is the age rating for the film. Below is a one line description of the film. At the beginning of the review the writer has included information on the film. This includes the release date, director, stars, writer, distributor and running time. The article then gives a summary of the plot of the film. This is written in bold as it is important information for the reader. Then the actual review begins. It starts with a drop cap on the first letter of the first word. This was used to indicate that this is where the actual review begins. At the bottom of the page there is a graph indicating the audiences engagement with the film as it progresses, highlighting different events within the film and how the audience would be feeling at that point. This is an interesting idea and I have not seen it on any other movie reviews that I have looked at. Next to the graph is a section saying “see this if you liked…” By comparing this film to other films it allows audiences to relate this film to other films that they enjoyed. This is a way of encouraging the audience to go out and see this film. About 60% of the page is an image from the film, and only 40% of the page is the actual review. The image used is from the film and it shows Spiderman, an iconic character, and the arms of Dr Octopus, another Iconic character. The colours used throughout the entire article match the colours of Spiderman’s costume, red and blue. Like all of the other articles I have looked at the writing style is casual and informal, however this article goes into a lot more detail about technical aspects than the others. While the others kept it vague but still with some detail, this takes it a step further but still is not extremely analytical. I prefer this to the others as it has a better level of detail.