Came across this interesting term this week: standard documentary technique. A standard technique can be simply speaking to the camera. Is there also a standard documentary?
I saw someone asked, on Google, is [insert movie] a real documentary? When someone inquires if a documentary is real, they are asking is it normal? Normal is really standard. But by asking this question, one thinks it may not be a documentary even if it looks like it.
Therefore, is there only one standard kind of documentary?
Standard is conventional in other words. There are conventional documentaries which are well established. I would call these standard. And there are unconventional documentaries which break new ground somehow. These are unexpected.
An unexpected documentary or unconventional documentary is still used from the same, or similar, materials as the conventional, but the techniques the so-called unconventional documentaries employ overwhelmingly differ to conventional forms.
Conventional documentaries are not the only “real” documentaries if real means the only ones made or the only acceptable ones. Unconventional documentaries are real as well. They exist, but they are not standard. They may not be “normal” as conventionally seen. But they are still real documentaries.
Yet, unconventional is not only the domain of the unconventional. Even conventional documentaries can have moments that are somehow new or fresh. Seeing something new or different than what one expects can be surprising as what one has been watching is the conventional style of doing things. One can be surprised in watching conventional forms as they happen to contain unexpected elements, such as insertion of unexpected scenes.
But what counts for me most is when the documentary is so gripping I am immersed in the story unfolding and unconventional techniques can sometimes aid in this digestion and conventional forms can also be just as gripping.