Stylized Trends Event Recap by News Doc Student Emily Overhoff
Documentary filmmaking is based on reality. But what if you can’t show that reality on camera? If reality was a one off event that took place in the past? If your character isn’t “natural” on camera? Or, if that reality is something intangible?
The panel discussed these obstacles they encountered in the process of creating their films.
For Tim Mitsui (The Long Night) animation was necessary to fill in the gaps for his protagonist’s tragic past. His choice of a film-noir aesthetic for animation not only served to inform the viewer of the events but also further carried the dark mood of the story.
Whereas for Mickey Duzyj (The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere) his Alex Katz meets graphic novel animation added a certain comic relief to his story about an unlikely Japanese equine national hero that cultural and linguistic differences limited.
Heidi Ewing’s challenge was to show her character, Norman Lear, as he was – not as his stage character. But as a man of celebrity accustomed to the Hollywood lights camera and action, Ewing found herself frustrated with her attempts of shooting in her signature Verite style. Lear was constantly acting and performing for the camera. So she parted from her Verite ways and made creative decisions –visual metaphors and interactive interview techniques, thereby succeeding to remove Norman from Norman Lear. And in the process debunked a grand fib he had been telling for many years!
Lana Wilson’s concern was to capture the spiritual aura of a Buddist Priest and the exercises he lead in his suicide prevention workshops in a rural Japanese village. With the help of her cinematographer (who has a master degree in lighting), special attention was paid to lighting and the pace, length and breadth of the shots. The result was a ‘textured’ image, visuals that could stand up and speak on their own to convey the calm yet surreal existence and experience of the priest and his students.
Documentary filmmakers are embracing new technology both in the production and post-production stage but also going back to basics -to the language of the visual medium and playing with the figurative as necessary means to depict and complete their stories.
News & Documentary is a Master's-level broadcast and documentary journalism track, at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. Graduates work around the world for top media organizations and on award-winning films.