rolling documentary thread 2020

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A look at the current state of the documentary industrial entertainment complex. I suppose I'm not surprised by anything described here, but goddamn this is grim.

But then, a red flag: Gibney started to get notes from the streamers “that tried to scientifically rationalize the process,” he says: “‘Our algorithm states that by minute 10 you should do X, Y or Z.'” In the meantime, he admits, his company attempted to industrialize its production process to meet the streamers’ demand. “Both us as a production company and then soon the streamers themselves were trying to reintroduce formulas,” Gibney says. “And suddenly we realized that that was the road to perdition.”


“My fundamental rule for editing used to be, before I even talk about structure, I want to screen every frame of footage,” says filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills; Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes). “In today’s fast-paced, highly compressed editing schedule, not only do I not look at all the footage, but the editors working on my shows often don’t look at all the footage.”

According to labor group the Alliance of Documentary Editors, an ideal edit schedule for a traditional documentary is about a month per 10 minutes of finished work, or nine months for a 90-minute film; editors who spoke for this story report recently being asked to complete films in five to six months. Several doc producers have introduced the role of “story editor” or “story producer,” a job commonly found in reality television but not traditionally in documentary — which some believe is intended to save time and help edits hit particular story beats.

Other reality television techniques are creeping into the field, such as “frankenbiting,” or the practice of editing different parts of dialogue together. Documentary editors often edit out “ums” or “ahs” for clarity purposes, but multiple sources say that in some cases — still rare — subjects’ words can be pieced together to punch up dialogue or help facilitate a story arc. “Frankenbiting is part of the process of editing to a certain degree, but what I’m talking about is something where the reality of what we’re seeing onscreen is often a fun house mirror version of reality,” says one veteran documentary editor. “For me, the most concerning is the fact that I’m seeing this at companies that are run by veteran documentary filmmakers who should know better.” Artificial intelligence is also, somewhat controversially, helping docs to re-create voices, or at least their likenesses. Morgan Neville’s Roadrunner had an AI model of Anthony Bourdain’s voice speak words he had written in email, while Andrew Rossi’s The Andy Warhol Diaries used an AI-actor hybrid to foster the illusion that the artist was reading his own diaries.

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 18 September 2022 23:53 (one year ago) link

six months pass...

I'm over two hours away now, so probably won't get to see anything, but this used to be the highlight of my film year:

clemenza, Thursday, 30 March 2023 19:01 (one year ago) link

eight months pass...

there are two Twin Flames documentaries now? also is there a newer thread than this?

sarahell, Friday, 1 December 2023 04:24 (five months ago) link

There should be a thread for junk viral docs, definitely, stuff like this and Fyre Festival, Tiger King, etc.

active spectator of ecocide and dispossession (Eric H.), Friday, 1 December 2023 14:22 (five months ago) link

Basically I really want to talk about the Rustin one that’s on Netflix… and it looks like no one else does? Oh well.

sarahell, Friday, 1 December 2023 15:58 (five months ago) link

As in … not comparing Rustin to the other ones, but I want to talk about it

sarahell, Friday, 1 December 2023 16:00 (five months ago) link

three months pass...

I'm writing about a few of the big World Premieres from CPH:DOX in English this year, if anyone's interested :)

Frederik B, Monday, 18 March 2024 15:15 (two months ago) link

Heard on the radio last week that Toronto's Hot Docs festival is on life support. They'll go through with this years (in April/May), but next year is up in the air. Genuinely sorry to hear this: never cared a bit about TIFF, but for a decade-plus, until I left the city, Hot Docs was the highlight of my filmgoing year.

clemenza, Monday, 18 March 2024 15:58 (two months ago) link

two weeks pass...

Really liked Modernism, Inc., about industrial design artist Eliot Noyes. He must have shown up in a Philip Johnson biography I read last year, but whatever I encountered there I'd forgotten, so it was all new. A story I always respond to: a period of great influence and achievement, the moment passes--there's a 1970 conference where Noyes' world is challenged and found egregiously wanting (unlike many in a similar situation, he gracefully steps aside)--and then 50 years later, a documentary pops up and you see him for the great artist he was. Claudia Weill unexpectedly turns up in connection to that conference.

(Xpost - Weird follow-up story of 10 programmers resigning from Hot Docs.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 2 April 2024 01:22 (one month ago) link

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