‘No one can police you any more’. It’s a curious statement, which may likely yield attention from law and enforcement agencies.
They needn’t be alarmed. Its context is that is that the era of validation, of the imposition of ‘rules’ about how visual reportage, video in particular, should be produced, is waning.
Storytelling has an inherent structural form, but it is not fixed. The circumstances by which you might construct your story depends on a number of parameters.
For example, how you feel, what the subject matter is, the period in which you were born, the general style of the subject and others. These are not new findings and are documented well in Noel Carroll’ Interpreting The Moving Image.
News and journalism however eschews many of the aforementioned qualities. How you feel about the story is unimportant to the story’s own general internal style, your editor may tell you.
So for instance, a film about war in Syria must show conflict. That could be described as a general style. But a more personal style may be that the author wants to counterpoint the film. War becomes the backdrop as the author of the film explores the human psychological condition.
La Grande Illusion (also known as Grand Illusion) is one such example in fictional cinema. It is a war film by Jean Renoir, but does not feature war. The author’s style trumps the general style.
There’s nothing inherently wrong in what news and journalism devised. It has served its purpose well and continues in appropriate conditions to do so — though sparingly. [Please read this.]
But styles change, the audiences wants something else, societies evolve, the viewer seeks new findings. News and journalism’s achilles has been to not listen to any counterview. It did this to Robert Drew too in the 1960s when Drew and friends devised Cinema Verite.
This is a video I would have wanted to have shown yesterday.
The news and journalism industry could police story form, even barricade any dissenters because they owned the only system of mass communications.
Well, not anymore. And when we evaluate what the audience wants, the innovative use of form and style points more to factual cinema.
But like most things there is a trade off. If you’re not being policed, how can you frame or gauge standards? The audience decides, yet paradoxically, I might add as one of many solutions, we could try and comprehend those conventions.
For instance the wide shot, medium shot, close-up has meaning, but is often used to convention in television journalism — for reason.
By comprehend, I don’t mean practise them, but understand what they once did and that way we can more efficiently police ourselves.
Thank you all for your kind comments.
I’m around today, if you want to engage in further debate. Here below is the film I mentioned from Syria in the presentation. Thanks to Glen and the RTE team for making this such an enjoyable conference.