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Documentaries - Rsace Film School
Documentaries are non-fiction movies that are produced with the intent of documenting reality,
creating social awareness, instilling empathy or enlightening viewers on foreign topics. With such
wide horizons, it’s not surprising that these kinds of productions have been around right from the
infancy of film-making.
6 Genres of documentary films
Documentaries can be categorized into 6 genres.
Poetic documentaries focus on the visuals to set a certain tone or mood and elicit an emotion
through the experience itself.
Expository documentaries are more factual supported by footage and that ‘Voice of God’ narration.
It’s often meant to bring awareness and sometimes persuade viewers into action.
Observational documentaries often uncover deep truths about the subject, by observing them
unobtrusively in their most private moments.
Participatory documentaries see the filmmaker being as much a participant in the film, as his
subject/s, either simply by asking the questions from behind the camera or actually being on screen
... documentaries focus on the filmmaker’s connection with his audience by showcasing the
actual production, editing, and interviewing of the subject.
Performative documentaries tend to focus on a filmmaker’s interactions with the subject often
juxtaposing these to historical or political issues. It uses personal experiences to share emotional
How to get your subjects comfortable
For your subjects to open up, it’s really important that they feel comfortable with you to talk freely.
Try and retain the element of surprise, by initially telling them only enough to get their interest
piqued. Leave them to come up with their own stories through the natural course of the interview.
It’s important to be a keen listener, without anticipating their answers. Sometimes even the
awkward silences speak a lot.
How do you actually shoot a documentary?
Once the subjects are at ease, you want to begin shooting the documentary. Writing, shooting,
editing, and producing – you could do it all, but it’d be best to befriend talented people who can
assist you. Find an engaging subject that you yourself are passionate about so that the hours of
exhaustive research don’t leave you bored. Instead of just throwing out information, try to make the
content entertaining to evoke an emotion from your audience. And remember, your stories don’t
always have to concern the nation. Local stories can be worth telling too.
Ramesh Sippy Academy of Cinema and Entertainment (RSACE)
Backed by more than 4 decades of filmmaking, Ramesh Sippy founded RSACE in an endeavor to
share his experiences with aspiring students of cinema and entertainment. The institute attempts to
bridge the gap between hands-on wisdom and theory by collaborating with knowledgeable
professionals. Tied to Mumbai University, students of RSACE can earn degrees and diplomas in
direction, screenwriting, film production, animation, and visual effects.
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