Documentary filmmaking has proven to be a means of exploring various aspects of the world even the topic of the content is some of the cutest animals in the world. What better way to present the stories of various species, than through the lens of a camera? Documentaries can be used to raise awareness on various issues, while also offering a closer look at the natural world. Documentary filmmaking is, in many ways, similar to traditional journalism. Both fields require researchers and analysts to collect and analyze information in an objective and unbiased manner.
Documentaries, like traditional journalism, present these facts and statistics in an objective and informative manner. Both journalism and documentary filmmaking, however, also have important differences. If you’re curious about the similarities and differences between documentary film and traditional journalism, continue reading for an in-depth overview.
Documentary Film vs. Journalism
Unlike many other forms of journalism, documentary film is not a form of journalistic reportage. The documentary filmmaker isn’t reporting facts and statistics, they’re using just the facts that they’ve documented to make an argument.
In journalistic reportage, the journalist is reporting facts and statistics, while also presenting their own ideas and opinions. In addition, journalistic reportage often includes techniques such as voice-over, cutaways, and on-screen graphics.
Documentary filmmakers, however, do not use any of these techniques. Instead, the filmmaker simply records events, places, and people, and then makes an argument using the facts they’ve documented. This distinction between documentary film and journalistic reportage is very important to understand. The best way to understand it is to think of documentaries as a type of narrative nonfiction storytelling.
What Can Be Discovered through Documentary Filmmaking?
Through the style of documentary filmmaking, the filmmaker is often able to discover new information about the natural world and human society.
One thing that documentary filmmakers can often discover, is the history of and human impact on the environment. This can be conducted through a variety of means, such as oral histories and archeology.
Another way documentary filmmakers can discover new information about the world around us, is by examining science. Through the use of cameras and other recording devices, science researchers can now film ecosystems, biochemical processes, and other scientific phenomena that are often very difficult to observe and examine.