Documentary Film — Until The End
OrWhat Can A Cameraman Say About Life In Fresh Air
Based on his experience as a director of photography and the observations made at the shooting of the documentary film Life in Fresh Air, the author compares the work and results of television productions with independent productions of epic documentaries, films shot over a long period of time. He begins by analysing crucial points of reference of HRT documentaries, considering the limitations of the production, pictorial standard and the standard involvement of film crews. He concludes that production results in pretentious and stiff presentational style, and notices that visual standard, as some sort of certificate of quality, give some films phoney dignity.
Contrary to the television productions, the shooting of Life in Fresh Air was a free choice of the auteur team, not a task. Therefore, their approach was full of enthusiasm and quite uncompromising, which made it appear ’unprofessional’ and ’an outcast of the trade’. The author pinpoints the exclusivity of such films and their disengagement from the systems of production. He goes on to stress the unselfishness in working practice: members of the team were not (as is normally the case) focused exclusively on their jobs — such productions ask for universal filmmakers.
He finds digital video to be the ideal medium for this kind of work because it allows for great working comfort and a (relatively) discreet shooting procedure. He lists rules for cameramen’s behaviour that make the camera ’invisible’ even when shooting a close-up. Although they planned the content and the appearance of the film, the author thinks that shooting procedure was conditioned by the visual style of film rather than by the initial concept. He also states that the difference between the picture of a public TV documentary picture and this film lies in the degree of acceptance of norms. He defends the imperfections in film, claiming that they verify the fidelity of footage. Uncritical aspiration to perfection he discards as a misconception of film trade. The imperfections of this film arose from the long period of shooting, an enormous quantity of footage and the inflating of the picture, but they are also a result of the attempt to catch natural reactions.
The author decides that a decrease in technical engagement in filming contributes to a more relaxed communication with the protagonists and thus improves the quality of film in general. He signals the importance of director’s social skills and his role as co-producer and co-director. In conclusion, he states that documentary film asks for practical authorship (director and cameraman) in one person.