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Old July 19th, 2009, 06:40 AM   #61
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Sound Actuality

A very interesting thread!

My angle is that documentary is not by definition necessarily journalistic (that seems to have crept in as the norm during the 1950s). The inventor of the term, Grierson, described it as the 'creative treatment of actuality' which is a very helpful precept. If you watch early docs they have no problem with all sorts of artifice - the silent 'Man with a Movie Camera' (Vertov) and 'Berlin: A City Symphony' (Ruttman) are my benchmarks still. I use all types of creative sound treatment as ultimately I think sound is more evocative and affective than the images so consequently concentrate on non-synchronous sound (but still diegetic). I like to promote the idea that there is nothing wrong with the concentrating on aesthetics in documentary and a poetic approach to this. It isn't journalism or making any attempt to convey an ultimate truth but a subjective impression of actuality.

Funnily enough despite using all kinds of sound manipulation I very rarely actually 'fake' sounds in any way (that just reminds me of why I hate so many movies - the highly exaggerated hyper-reality Hollywood approach to sound and image is horrible) - why not use a different approach to practical problems like poor sound such as a 'metaphorical' sound or even silence!!
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Old July 20th, 2009, 06:54 AM   #62
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If you are interested in the ethics of artifice/re-enactment in doc making - check out Errol Morris' blog posts at
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