In his chapter “Toward a Poetics of Documentary,” Michael Renov outlines the four tendencies of documentary. He attempts to place these tendencies within theories of poetics in order to show that they are products of historical, cultural, and even technological contexts. As a result, these tendencies serve as a way to see how to widen [...]
Scholars have been trying to classify documentaries for decades. One form of classification is their distinction from other types of filmmaking, such as fiction films or experimental films. Another form is trying to group documentaries into their own categories. In his book Documentary Film, Paul Rotha indentifies four documentary traditions. These are listed and described [...]
Suggestions welcome in the comments below. Writing, Directing, and Producing Documentary Films and Vidoes, Alan Rosenthal. 4th edition. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press, 2007. Directing the Documentary, Michael Rabiger. 5th edition. Focal Press, 2009. The Documentary Filmmakers Handbook: A Guerilla Guide, Genevieve Jolliffe and Andrew Zinnes. New York: Continuum, 2006. Making Documentary Films and Reality Videos: [...]
Duke University: MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts Syracuse University (Newhouse School): Documentary Film and History University at Albany: Documentary Studies Program University of Utah: Documentary Studies George Washington University: The Documentary Center New School: Graduate Certificate in Documentary Studies New York University: Tisch School of the Arts Stanford University University of North Texas Wake [...]
If you are looking for a starting point, here are six books about documentary that provide a broad overview of its history, study, and current issues. The links go to Amazon. Documentary Film: A Very Short Introduction By Patricia Aufderheide, this book provides the most compact and most thorough account of Western documentary’s development. If [...]
Documentary theorist Bill Nichols suggests a multi-part answer to the question, how does a documentary get defined?
The word “documentary” poses many challenges in providing an quick definition. Here are some definitions from various reference guides and textbooks.
As a type of film or television develops, makers find certain techniques that become useful or effective in creating texts. These techniques get used again and again, and eventually they are associated with and are used to define certain types of texts. The techniques then become known as conventions. Documentary has its fair share of [...]
Each semester I ask students what they think or know in general about documentaries. There are two running themes to the responses. One is that documentaries are “educational.” The other is that they are “not entertaining,” or worse, “boring.”
Studies in Documentary Film: An academic journal devoted exclusively to the study of documentary film. Documentary: The journal for the U.S.-based International Documentary Association. DOX: A publication of the European Documentary Network.