We have produced a hybrid documentary using the Channel 4 house style which takes influence from both observational and expository documentaries. We decided to go with the hybrid style as we didn’t want to convey a false perception of OCD as it would be somewhat immoral to filter the awareness the documentary would reach through uneducated bias.
However, we did want to have control of what scenes we were shooting, just not the concept they were putting forward. The actual statements made by the actors and interviewee’s are factual, as we only wanted to control the mere aesthetic and compositional elements of those scenes and shots we set up. The main reason for this is because we wanted to replicate the Channel 4 house style through our interview, framing of our subjects and overall mise-en-scene.
When considering the general C4 house style, it was easy for us to figure out particular traits and characteristics that are somewhat signature to C4 productions, like their choice of framing during interviews, or their use of narration as a form of aural transition between scenes and visual transitions. we really wanted to focus on the way that C4 frames their interviews as the style of shot draws so much attention on what the interviewee has to offer, and distracts enough attention away from the background to pull maximum focus onto the person featured, but also leaves enough subjet matter in the frame for the audience to figure out where the interview is taking place. This is clear in the example below as it’s hard to not pay attention to that male character in focus, but the audience’s eye still drifts to the background to figure out the setting he is being filmed in, which is clearly a medical room of some sort.
24 Hours In A&E:
Below is our example of the same shot we used in our public interview, as it was important to reinforce the fact that the interview were taking place in a public area, and that the interviews were candid and not setup. The use of the shallow depth of field again, draws attention to the interviewee, but still doesn’t blur the background out to the point where the background isn’t distinguishable as an urban environment. This was one of the key influences/conventions that matches the C4 house style that we’ve successfully replicated and inputted well into our production. The technique featured has pushed our level of refinement in our production, rather than forcing ourselves to hinder our level of success by having to incorporate a particular style or convention for the sake of copying a technique used by C4, just to say that we’ve used similar techniques used by C4.
As we have had to stick to the house style of Channel 4 it has somewhat restricted the format in which we have composited our documentary, if we had been given a different house style to follow we might have had to include different features that would of changed the overall dynamic of our production. It has also effected the planning of our production as our initial research was mainly focused on Channel 4 productions. The focus on the house style made us drive towards including a public perception of OCD and gave us the idea to include public interviews as Channel 4 tend to value public opinions especially considering aspects of life that effect health.
Technical aspects that were altered due to the form of our production ranges from our camera angles to our choice in audio equipment. We were torn on whether we wanted to use a shotgun microphone or a lavalier microphone to record our interview audio as they both had pro’s and con’s. through test recordings we decided that in a busy area like the city centre, the lavalier microphone would be the best choice as the shotgun microphone would have been slightly intimidating to the strangers we approached and it would of probably distracted their attention from the questions. The lavalier microphone also adds an element of the stereotypical mise-en-scene that would normally be featured in an interview, as some form of hidden microphone is usually seen in most Channel 4 documentaries.
The script was also somewhat dictated by the decision of our form as the typical form Channel 4 uses tends to use narration as a form of audio transition that links two scenes that might not normally blend together if there was no some form of introduction to the next scene. This technique is not exclusively used by Channel 4 but it is still a feature in the influential productions we researched and analyzed, so it was an element to take forward into our production. During our voice over we made special considerations into how we linked our scenes together with narration as the text had to link the two scenes together, whilst including some form of introduction into the next scene. We decided to use this form of transition as it was different from standard visual transitions and it was preferred technique used by Channel 4.
Our documentary is very representative of its form as the content of the production sticks to the style of a hybrid between the observational and expository style, our production is certainly a hybrid of the both and clearly demonstrates and presents elements of both. We have expository elements like the “Voice of God” that shows the effectiveness of our narration between and during scenes. Apart from a few scenes were text information is displayed in the frame, the narrator is otherwise the main source of spoken information that explains the narrative of our documentary, and guides the viewer into the production there watching. Regarding the observational mode, we think we took conceptual elements of the observational style as we didn’t want to change the perception of OCD as we didn’t have any reason to input bias into the production. Aesthetic elements we took from this style are a few filler shots that we filmed that were looking at our expert whilst she was typing on the computer, but apart from that we wouldn’t say that the observational mode has had much effect on our overall aesthetic style.
We wouldn’t say our documentary contains an authored perspective as the documentary isn’t based on a particular protagonist. We don’t feature a specific “character” as we move from case study to example without directly associating them together, the only links the examples get is the narrative of our documentary, which goes from public perceptions, case study, case study and then to an expert opinion. Our narrator also talks in the third person as the script was written in that fashion which reinforces our objective view on the matter of OCD. The narrator isn’t supposed to be a secondary voice of opinion hence the neutral tone and non-objective script.
The main conventions in our documentary were featured in both expository and observational modes. We wanted to use the hybrid style as we wanted to inform the public about the illness but didn’t want to input any bias or alternate opinions that would change the publics perception of OCD. We wanted to include the conceptual connotations of the observational mode as the style exposes the subject for what it is which is what our main intention was regarding the concept and narrative of our production. The main reasons why we wanted to include the expository mode into our style is because we wanted to have full control of what we shot and the aesthetic of how we filmed it, whilst still not inputting any bias into the narrative. We think we’ve managed to do this successfully as we had full control of what we wanted to film, but the things we’ve featured in the film are 100% factual and have no bias or false perceptions of the illness. We intended to guide the audience’s response by incorporating the narration into the narrative of the production. The narration guides the displayed narrative of our documentary which gives the audience a clear guideline to view as the narration links the scenes together. This is a common convention used by contemporary documentaries but more specifically it was a clear technique used by our example documentaries, “24 Hours in A&E” and “One Born Every Minute”.
Music was also a key part in providing a guided perception of the person displayed at the time, as the music reinforces the narrative of the production. For our public interview we wanted to display the woman in a casual fashion, whereas in our more factual interviews, we used a heavier track that is commonly used in medical documentaries. One way we manipulated the setting of our interviews was shown in our expert setting as we inputted secondary subject matter like posters and graphics in the environment to further implicate the sense of a medical environment. With regards to people, we didn’t alter their appearance or age as this wasn’t an important factor to consider as the truth about OCD is that it can affect anyone of any age. Throughout this documentary we’ve sought to guide the audiences response by inputting directional responses to questions we raise in our production as we felt this was the best way to guide and provide an informative response and analysis of the illness we’ve chosen to base our production on.
We would like to think that our documentary does follow the codes and conventions of a hybrid documentary, as it does contain conventions from both expository and observational modes. We made a script for our narrator and a re-enacted case study for our extreme case study example which are typical traits when looking at an expository documentary, but we also kept the facts unfiltered and kept a biased perspective out of the production as that would of dampened the truthful representation of OCD that we wanted to display. We wouldn’t say that the expository style has controlled our form of documentary as we’ve kept the controlled aspects of our production to the mere aesthetic elements like composition of the shot, and graphics displayed on the screen, rather than altering the conceptual representation that our production displays. We wouldn’t say that we’ve seen a disappointment in our documentary, but we think that the privacy and consent associated with filming an actual patient could of revealed a more realistic viewpoint that would gave the audience a realistic insight into a sufferer’s life. although we did include some form of semi-realistic perspective as we do have a factual based case study that we used instead of filming an actual extreme case study of OCD, as the re-enactment wasn’t false in factual information and was aimed to fit into our frame of time due to our close deadline. A clear improvement we could make to our documentary was our use of setting for our set-up interviews, as the background and setting in our experts perspective didn’t match the stereotypical mise-en-scene or representation of an expert psychologist. if we had more time and put further planning into the interview, we could set up an interview in a better setting that clearly relates to a medical environment. We feel like this is our biggest improvement we could make as the standard of interview wasn’t up to scratch when compared with our public interviews, as the aesthetic elements in the public setting gave the clear impression that that portion of the production was displaying a strangers opinions and perception of OCD, whereas in our experts interview, we had to reinforce the fact that she was an expert with graphics and secondary subject matter like diagrams and posters in the setting around her. if we could re-do any part of our documentary, we would say our main improvements we could make would be on our expert interview.