Formats: Broadcast and interactive doco comparison

This blog post looks at two different styles of documentary in order to compare the filmmakers approaches to story structure, editing, style and audience experience. Additionally, I will be discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each platform. To do this, I will be examining the VR film Bashir’s Dream (2016) directed by Angel Manuel Soto, as well as the Oscar-winning, Netflix original Icarus (2017) directed by Bryan Fogel.

Bashir’s Dream is about a 14-year-old Syrian refugee who wants to play basketball, get an education and travel- but, above all else, he just wants to escape his situation. However, Bashir’s health, environment and refugee status is preventing him from getting the one thing he needs to chase his dreams of a better life, surgery. This documentary takes audiences on the characters inner journey, by virtually placing us in his world. In the first act, we are told his backstory and, in a way, experience his environment. The second act depicts Bashir’s lowest point which is then lifted by his aspirations that are shared in the third and final act.

The filmmaker uses a childlike hook to approach the ‘heavy’ story through emphasis on the use of animation, VR and Bashir’s fantasy of becoming a basketballer. The advantages to this VR style of documentary making is that the audience is privy to more of the story and message. In this case, the message being conveyed relates to social awareness, specifically geopolitical matters and the VR nature amplifies the subtextual meaning by implying a sense that these issues cannot be escaped. The downfall of this platform, is that audiences aren’t going to see and comprehend everything on first viewing. Not only can they miss things, but they can now choose what they want to see rather them exactly what the filmmaker wants to show them.

The filmmaker uses a childlike hook to approach the ‘heavy’ story through emphasis on the use of animation, VR and Bashir’s fantasy of becoming a basketballer. The advantages to this VR style of documentary making is that the audience is privy to more of the story and message. In this case, the message being conveyed relates to social awareness, specifically geopolitical matters and the VR nature amplifies the subtextual meaning by implying a sense that these issues cannot be escaped. The downfall of this platform, is that audiences aren’t going to see and comprehend everything on first viewing. Not only can they miss things, but they can now choose what they want to see rather them exactly what the filmmaker wants to show them.

Icarus, on the other hand, is presented on a more typical platform, streaming. The Super Size Me style film is a participatory documentary whereby filmmaker Bryan Fogel sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports. The audience watches on as Fogel takes his journey to a whole new level following a chance meeting with Grigory Rodchenkov, a Russian scientist. Rodchechenkon helps Fogel carry out his doping experiment which transforms the film into, yet another, geopolitical expedition.

This documentary encompasses the codes and conventions that audiences expect when viewing this particular genre. The rough footage and handheld shots convey the raw and real style which is defiantly an advantage of this platform as audiences get what they expect.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s