Research – Duck Rabbit

As I had shown an interest in making a documentary, it was a great opportunity to hear from two industry professionals from the company DuckRabbit who are commissioned by organisations to make short documentaries. They described the process as fast-paced video making, generating short documentaries at to keep up with society and current trends, which complimented the approach I am taking for my Final Major Project. I don’t have the desired amount of time to complete this video documentary as well as I wish, so I have to adapt to the situation and aim to produce content efficiently. Their process is mainly making films that are commissioned by other organisations, this means the organisation works well as a business model as there always be the funding to make a specific film.

Oli from DuckRabbit showed us his first ‘duckrabbit’ film which was commissioned to encourage more people to consider a career in engineering. I noticed that the style of this video was very engaging and quite fast-paced, which matched the subject who was of a younger age. The whole effect of this editing and shooting process was that the subject appeared to be so enthusiastic about her future in engineering, the speed of the film appeared to reflect and signify a child who’s found this amazing thing and wants to get all their ideas out at once so you could share in it too.

The second film we were shown was more serious, meant to introduce the viewer in other people’s stories who have had a very different life. There were two films in this section, one of which we were shown in the session and the other which I researched afterwards because I found the first one so effective.

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Some To Kill was the first film we were shown, about this individual who grew up in a conflicted household which then left him in a negative state of mind when growing up. He found a cause in the Neo Nazi beliefs and invested in them, committing to them completely by taking up the horrific task of killing a vast amount of people in various different ways. However despite this his family still accept him and he begins to come to terms with the extreme acts he has committed and that there is an alternative choice. The aesthetic of this video is so strong, with extreme detail and clarity in the shots of the subject. The fact you can see all the lines and pores creates the impression that you are being allowed to see all of him in both body and mind. The strength created by the framing and composition implies that the individual you are hearing from has great capability, then as your hear what he has done you realise that this capacity is for both good and bad. However the friendly first impression you get of him at the beginning of the documentary invests in the idea that he is a good person overall, that this is not the face of a bad person. Various signifiers come into effect in the ending sequence, where the subject takes a journey out into the environment and walked off into the distance, we as the viewer believe that this distance symbolises his new journey and new beginnings. There is a good sense of closure to this documentary despite the serious nature of the content, it is consumable, but at the same time it makes a great impact. This is a feat I think is extremely hard for a short documentary to complete, to go into enough detail to teach the viewer whilst keeping the aesthetic and pace of the actual moving image piece quick and engaging.

“What did all this have to do with God?” is a different piece but made for the same organisation and similar to the previous in that it tackles content of a serious nature. However instead of the video focusing on the healing of the subject, it appears as though the process of making the video itself is actually a significant aspect for the subject in coming to terms with her loss. She speaks to the camera as if it were the person she has lost, further accentuating that the project is for her means rather than a commissioned piece. However the overall aim of the project is to generate awareness for the families of those who have left to pursue causes that could be frowned upon by society and ultimately by the people she continues to live around. The content of the video is quite interesting, it could be that the directors have given the subject a structure to work to or vice-versa. The dynamic of having the subject speak to the camera as if they were speaking to a specific person makes it very engaging as a viewer to watch and it also encourages us to form a connection with the subject and empathise with them as they are given the impression of being part of their conversation. This is the approach I took with some of my questions with my video, I asked them what advice they would give to a person who was approaching online anonymous communication who hadn’t had any previous content with the Internet. The responses to this question proved to be a really effective start to my documentary as it engaged people’s attention, the content was slightly cryptic so that the viewer would have to watch more to find out about the real story behind it.

Evaluation/Responses:

After considering the videos of DuckRabbit and comparing them to the footage and audio I had shot, I realised that the quality of my documentary was going to be below to the standard I would want it to be. Although I didn’t have a budget to work with like DuckRabbit do, I wasn’t putting all my effort into the documentary because I was still giving some of my attention to the image set I was also creating. Hearing Oli talk about his final year and his steady transition over to making moving image pieces over core photography practices, I realised that video as a genre deserves the same amount of care and attention that an image set would. Attempting both, as I was planning to do, would most likely leave me with two different responses to my Final Major Project, neither of which I would have been particularly happy with. If I was going to make a video documentary to the standard of what I would want to display, I would need to treat it as an entirely different project and give it it’s own timetable and portion of attention. As I am predominately working on the photographic response and have to consider another deadline in which I need to get my portfolio together, I decided that I should leave the video documentary. I would be able to pick this project back up in my own time and make a much better response to it when having a larger amount of time and a great capacity to focus all my efforts on it. I wasn’t giving the video documentary the attention it deserved because I had become slightly disenchanted with it compared to my photographic response to the Final Major Project, as it had take some different turns.

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