The joy of “discovery” via document production
Deepening understanding of the subject while filming
In the research association, various students are involved in producing short documents, either alone or in teams, with a goal of one in 30 minutes. In documentary production, what to film and what theme to decide upon is chosen freely by the student(s). As it takes a long time to be completed, it’s important to continue to have a passion for documentary production. That said, various discoveries are made during research and investigation, and this will heighten one’s interest, so it’s okay if in the beginning there is only a little interest. Also, if it is a documentary, then if it is combined with filming, then knowledge in that area will increase appropriately, and understanding will deepen, so it is fine to detour in various directions. Even if those clips are not used, it was still not a waste. This is certainly a point of difference from fiction film production and writing of scenarios.
The content of the works that the students create really are a wide variety. With this year’s graduate’s productions, there were works about a grandmother’s illness, the history of women’s wrestling, a radio program where a visually impaired woman serves as the moderator, tattoos, etc. When the subjects were initially being chosen, we got the students to think about “what will be spoken about by taking that one?”, and “what will you share with others?” This was equivalent to a theme, so it can be thought of as a viewpoint in terms of what subject or target is captured in what way. This spreads it out a little and connects with society, and relates it to life.
The key to developing documentary ideas
Possibilities of documentary filmmaking in an age when anyone can become a filmmaker
Nowadays, high-resolution imagery can be taken using a small video camera, and these clips can be edited easily using a home computer. Could one call this an age in which anyone can be, or indeed is, a creator of films? What is the difference between a fantastic work and that which is not so fantastic? In the past, one could easily differentiate between an amateur and a professional, but I think that if we use those terms, it becomes instead a differentiation between amateur and mature: the difference between a deep or shallow eye for targets, the world and life. As images are recorded just as they exist, a viewer who watches a fragmentary work will be able to quickly grasp the facts. At the time, they’ll whisper to themselves, “it just doesn’t have that particular thing…”, and will gaze with a smile at the creator (as if looking at a school play put on by children). In other words, if a viewer has spent a longer time on the actual site than the director or producer, it’s unusual for a viewer to feel that their understanding of that world has deepened. We could say that this indicates an amateur work which has lost to the viewer.
Reversely, a “mature” creator is able to give the viewer new viewpoints and experiences. For a student, this is the most difficult aspect. For an adult viewer, the world which the student has worked to build up may be perfectly normal, lacking in discoveries, etc. However, that which has been experienced during the creative process, and that which has been discovered, is important to the creator themselves, and we encourage the creator to treat those findings with importance. When they watch it again, a decade or two later, it may hold new meaning for them.
The nature of the interestingness of documentary production is that, through the video camera, one searches a world which they did not know about previously, and gazes in a new light at the world around them, and makes various discoveries. I would like all of our students to experience this.