Original comment by Michael:
Just a footnote to western causal thinking, Korsakow system and non-lineal storytelling. “Leviathan is a documentary horror film painted in expressive primary colours on a black canvas.” Horror is a genre. apparently documentary is a genre too.What would a non-lineal, second-order constructivist, documentary be like?In an 8 Min lineal, western-causal documentary its possible to explain in depth the background of ocean acidification (see link below from day before). The author tells a story, develops an argument and provides evidence. We understand (as intended). It makes sense and is adequate use of media to choose this format to convince people.Now what would a second-order, non-lineal documentary look like? Is there a story? Does the author convince? How do we create meaning? Even the raw data, the interview questions, would have to be different, wouldn’t they? Or would it be possible to simply re-edit a traditional film?
Matt Soar pointed me to your interesting questions, he thinks I might have helpful thoughts on that. I will give it a try. I start from the end:
Or would it be possible to simply re-edit a traditional film?
No, you might want to use the same raw material (I like the term data!), but the material that is used in the end of the process of making a linear film is usually already that much structured and loaded with opinion, that any “open narrative” would look stupid in comparison (we tried that a lot in student projects in the beginning of Korsakow).
Editing a linear film, authors should better cut away everything that does not serve their narration. “Kill your darlings!” – “Cut away the useless stuff!” But who decides what is useless? – “The author” you might answer, but I argue: it is the Story! – The author knows what he likes (his darlings) the Story tells him to kill them, if they don’t fit – the story.
In an 8 Min lineal, western-causal documentary it is possible to explain in depth the background […]. The author tells a story, develops an argument and provides evidence. We understand (as intended). It makes sense and is adequate use of media to choose this format to convince people.
Yes! This is the power and the beauty of linear filmmaking. The author has researched a topic and thought about it carefully and then builds it into a film that effectively and convincingly transports his conclusion. Wonderful!
My personal experience being a (one time) linear filmmaker: I researched and thought long and carefully but I did not get to one conclusion. Patterns evolve. Meaningful and hopefully helpful thoughts. But nothing that I would like to squeeze into a conclusion. Nothing that I want to put in concrete for the next 100 million years. Not even for the next 10 years!
Entering a diner with Matt Soar and David Reisch on the way back from our Korsakow-retreat in Ontario, last week, we talked about dinosaurs: “Isn’t it funny?” I asked, “Dinosaurs will look different in the future.” The way dinosaurs (or the imagination that we have of them) changed over the past. Dinosaurs looked different before there was plastic to model them and they look different as we have 3d animation; scientists come up with new scientific evidence all the time. The skeleton stays the same, the way we envision it, changes. Same goes for ancient cultures, or telephones or anything. Anything you can imagine. Do a thought-experiment. What stayed the same over 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years?
What I feel I can do, as a documentary maker, is to collect evidence, think carefully about it and also state my (hopefully helpful) thoughts. I am the author and I decide what my darlings are and I narrow down the raw-data to a point where it is effectively consumable. I do everything that an author of linear films does, just not the last step: I don’t put it into one argument or story.
Why? Because I realized that Stories allow certain arguments and others not. I don’t want to explaining that here, but in a nutshell: Stories like extremes. And I personal don’t like extremes ( maybe because I myself am so normal ).
I know I don’t speak for all nonlinear documenter or webdoccers, there seems to be currently a strong tendency in using nonlinear (better multilinear) storytelling for telling Stories that make a point, that try to convince people, that raise awareness (against windmills). ( Funny, I just wrote the last line, looked up and out of the window – I am in a train – what did I see? Windmills! ).
I really hope this stupidity is soon over and we can enter into the (flexible) world beyond the linear story.
Again: Linear film is cool and will be. But there is more, that can be explored!