Perspective In Filmmaking

When shooting a movie, a filmmaker has many choices. Casting, script, cinematography, set, props. The most important tool the movie maker has at his disposal is the use of multiple takes to get a scene right.

If one were to define a movie they would probably say a series of videos that tells a story, which would not be untrue, but would be ignorant of what goes into the creation of this story.

If one were to define a documentary they would probably say a series of videos that tells you about something real. Is this a story?

When shooting a documentary the film maker has few freedoms. The documentarian works within the framework of reality, attempting to capture the world as it happens.

In the modern era there are many people between the camera and the silver screen; from editors to sound directors to agents etc… the contemporary documentarian is virtually nonexistent beyond the domain of film festivals and vignette contests. The perspective of the documentarian is as unique as the perspective of any person because it does not embellish or accentuate. The viewer entrusts the documentarian with their view of the world while trusting the movie maker with their emotions. It is a simple battle of logos and pathos. Documentaries are to depict things in their actuality.

The most important difference between documentaries and movies is the level of preparation. While a movie is shot in a controlled environment with as many redos as possible, a documentary is shot in the location of it’s subject and has no margin for error. Shot’s out of focus? too bad. A documentary, to be a piece of the genre, must use it’s imperfections to it’s advantage. At the same time the cinematographer in the shooting of a documentary has to be impeccable. In order to  capture a scene in it’s entirety, and to then convey that scene in it’s entirety, the audience cannot be focusing on a protruding branch or shaky frame.

What defines a film, and subsequently separates it into genre, is it’s objective. A true documentary aims to give the viewer an objective eyepiece, as if they were there, in order to give the viewer the freedom to make sense of it in their own way. There is no true movie because a movie is just a story told with cinema.

The most important distinction to make between the two mediums is that movies are not made to represent reality, rather simulate it.