"The Documentary Genre can be personal, thoughtful and provocative."



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The Documentary Genre strives to tell a story, usually true, through a series of personal interviews. The interviews are most often cut to weave in and out of related shots. Many times these related shots are still photographs which have been converted to elegantly slow moving animations. Ken Burns, a very successful American Documentarian, is actually credited with this technique to the point that in the video editing software, Final Cut Pro, this digital effect is actually named, "The Ken Burns Effect."

Some folks actually consider this genre to be a little on the boring side. I must disagree as I find documentaries to be some of the most interesting and fascinating films I've ever watched. This is especially true when the subject matter is something you're either in agreement with, or simply very interested in. To me, documentaries are an ideal educational tool, and I'm not the only one who feels this way.

When a documentary is not serious, or necessarily a true story, it is often referred to as "Mockumentary." Many filmmakers have utilized this dryly comical bending of the documentary genre to great effect. First to come to mind would be writer/director Rob Reiner. Rob's first claim to fame was as Archie Bunker's son-in-law (aka: "Meat-Head") on the amazingly successful 70's sitcom, All in the Family. Since then he has revealed himself to be a consummate director, and an absolute master of the "mockumentary" medium. His first and most wonderful entry into this genre would be This is Spinal Tap (1984), a farcical documentary about an aging and pathetic hard rock group desperately struggling to re-ignite their once held fame.

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Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean in This is Spinal Tap

 

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