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The Art of Fact: An exploration of the relationship between theory and practice in documentary filmmaking

Marley, K (2017) The Art of Fact: An exploration of the relationship between theory and practice in documentary filmmaking. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

This practice led thesis is an exploration of the ways in which theory can inform practice in documentary filmmaking. Section 1 of the thesis provides an embedded review of literature in order to offer the reader a critical evaluation of the theoretical debates that have informed my documentary practice. This section analyses issues associated with definitional debates on documentary film, while also addressing the formal features associated with what Bill Nichols (1991; 2001) called modes of documentary. The work of particular filmmakers will be discussed, namely Dziga Vertov, Jean Rouch and the city symphony makers of the early 20th century, in relation to how their ideas and film work have had a major impact on my own approach to filmmaking. Section 2 is the practical portfolio of work itself and acts as an exploration of theory within a practical context. The audio-visual texts include, A Film About Nice (2010), a dawn-to-dusk city symphony, which focuses on capturing the everyday life of a European city. It echoes the tradition of the City Symphony makers of the early 20th Century, however the significant difference here is that I explore some of the visual techniques adopted by the filmmakers and explore them within a sonic context. This film can be seen as an exploration of the impact rhythm has on signification within film. Mechanized Deconstruction (2011) is a recording of a live performance at Documentary Now 2011. This was my first venture into producing documentary films within a live context, via the use of DJ/VJ technologies. There is a cine-poem, which acts as a collaborative approach to documentary, combining the work of the poet and the work of the filmmaker. It also acts an example of how some of the techniques I have developed during the live performance of documentary have had an impact on the documentary films that I have since produced. The Mill (2016) adopts a similar structure to The City Symphony, however this film can be seen as an Industrial Symphony, in that the focus here is on the rhythm, movement and the sonic dimension of the machine. In many ways this film can be seen as that which encapsulates the essence of the formalist approach I adopt when producing documentary films. Driven By Machines (2017) uses footage from The Mill and provides an example of how a filmmaker can de-familiarize actuality footage through post-production technique. This film acts as an ode to the abstract filmmakers such as Man Ray, Len Lye, Viking Eggelling and Hans Richter, all of who used actuality footage and abstracted this footage through manipulation techniques available to them at the time. In summary, Section 2 acts as an audio-visual explication of theory within a practical context. Section 3 is a critical reflection of the practical portfolio of work. Here I aim to explain how I have used certain filmmaking techniques as a way of exploring some of the theoretical concepts outlined in Section 1. This offers the reader an opportunity to gain insight into how theory can inform practice; as such the reader of my films is able to gain insight into authorial intention, therefore the reader is able to make a more informed analysis of my practical portfolio.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: documentary; filmmaking; practice based research; Dziga Vertov; City Symphony
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN4699 Journalism
Divisions: Liverpool Screen School
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2017 14:04
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2017 14:04
Supervisors: Papadimitriou, L
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/7607

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