Bill Nichols operates with six types of documentaries
- – the explanatory form
- – the objective form of manufacture
- – the participating form of manufacture
- – the performative mode of manufacture
- – the poetic mode of production
- – the reflexive form of manufacture
They will all be presented below. In many cases, documentaries will draw on different forms of production and not stick to a single one.
Explanatory presentation (classic)
An omniscient narrator is used to speak directly to the viewer. Typically, the omniscient narrator is a voice-over in that it can be heard but not seen, but there are also examples of the omniscient narrator acting in the film as a person. The narrator’s role is typically to explain and illustrate what we see.
But the narrator also explains to us which contexts we should see, so that what we must see and perceive is organized clearly by the omniscient narrator. Therefore, the omniscient narrator voice gains a higher status than the image page, as it is the voice that convinces and explains us, and the image page serves as evidence of what the narrator tells us.
It is the narrator who concludes to the viewer in his attempt to convince the viewer of the perspective a film has put on a given event. It is with the narrator that we have to find the main claim and the image side serves as evidence. In this way, the explanatory presentation can be reminiscent of the reportage, where it is also the journalist who ties the news together and concludes on what the interviewees say to the camera.
The explanatory form of appeal appeals and uses / builds on common sense; the cultural values that are found essential and agreed upon at the given historical moment. But it can also try to be an argument in a debate about a given cultural value.
Observational mode of manufacture
The narrator is implicit here, and the observational film is a recording of life as it does now and then. In the pure observational mode of presentation, there is no voice-over or commentary as in the explanatory mode. There will also be no definite interviews. The viewer sees what is and what is happening.
It is as if the camera has been turned on and set up, but the characters do not detect it or at least do not relate directly to the camera. Here is a problem of reality: can we be sure that the filmmakers appear exactly in front of the camera as they would without the camera? Would the filmed act differently if the camera did not record? Basically, we can never determine that, because we have nothing but the record of sticking to it (we cannot be present ourselves, and if we were, this could of course also affect).
Another problem is of an ethical nature: The instructor only records what is going on and does not interfere in the course of events, but should the instructor intervene if the writers expose themselves or others to danger? The writers would not change their behavior if the instructor was not present and therefore they would expose themselves or others to danger, whether the instructor was present or not.
If the instructor intervenes, then she also intervenes in the writers action and changes them, thereby making the instructor no longer observant, but indirectly becoming part of the action. One side effect of intervening is that the movie will be different from what it would initially show.
Participating mode (personal)
The participatory production depicts what it is like for the film producer to be in a different environment – or contains interviews by one or a few people who claim to be in a different environment. One not only observes the other environment from the outside (observational mode of production), but goes into the other environment and feels how the other environment is on his own body.
The viewer expects an insight into what it is like to be in the other environment, and it is based on the basic premise that the viewer can identify with the person visiting the other environment. The interview is used – it is an essential element for participatory production in the meeting between the film producer in the other environment.
Documentary articles based on interview are also categorized as the participating form of production, although the producer is no longer visiting the foreign environment, but instead is filming testimonies from the environment – without an explanatory voice-over.
The performative mode of questioning is what knowledge is. It emphasizes the complexity of our knowledge and our understanding by emphasizing the subjectivity and the affective of our knowledge. Emphasis is placed on the subject’s experience, understanding and memory, which differs from the actual story. That is, the tension between the subjective experience and what really happened is the focus of the film.
For example, it may be the opinion of a population group – a social subjectivity, for example oppressed or misunderstood such as minorities, gay lesbians. The performative mode of production sounds like the slogan: we talk to ourselves about ourselves, rather than talk about them to us.
Documentary articles within this genre typically do not constitute an argument with a general claim in the common sense, but try to show the difference in perception of an event or differences in perception, and most often the performative mode of production will emphasize the subjective and break with the conventional narrative. production form.
Poetic mode of presentation
This type of documentary originated in the modernist avant-garde art. The poetic form of presentation does not adhere strictly to time and place, but is more loosely grounded and provides an experience of coherence by juxtaposing elements that are not juxtaposed in time or place.
Therefore, there is not necessarily a course of action, nor do persons, characters, appear as concrete persons or characters with psychological depth, but contribute to the perception of an experience. The form of poetic presentation is an expression of a different form of argument than in the other genres, with emphasis on: tone, affect (influence) and mood rather than creating a clear argument.
It becomes more form and experiment with the form and what you can get out of the form – for example, it is a documentary about speed rather than a documentary about a specific train or a documentary about the shadows that a sculpture creates, rather than a documentary about sculpture. The instructor reproduces reality on the basis of fragments, personal impressions, incoherent actions and loose associations, and so there is not the same meaning and wholeness that one usually associates with the traditional narrative.
The reflexive form of illustration illustrates problems in showing the viewer the historical, real world – a form of meta-film. It relates to how we represent and represent the world, rather than to what the world looks like, and it points to the documentary as a construct that is not reality but precisely problematizes the documentary’s reality rendering.