Posted by: Jordin Ruthstein | February 27, 2010

True/False panel discusses future of documentaries

Five documentary directors sat down in a panel Saturday to discuss the future of documentaries. Sam Green, Adam Curtis, Michael Epstein, Chase Whiteside and Eric Stoll spoke about past and current projects they have done for audience members at today’s panel “Film Forward: Where Hasn’t Documentary Gone?”

All of the directors focused on ways to engage media in new ways and how they try to capture an audience. Although many of them have similar views, they each had different techniques to engage and inspire their audience.

Green explained how he wants to make his documentaries into something “you can only experience if you’re there.” He also expressed his love for films shown in theaters where you can watch and really engage in what the film is about.

On the other spectrum, Stoll and Whiteside talked about their use of the Internet as a medium of communication. For them, the Internet allows the opportunity to reach audiences all over the world in an easily accessible and affordable way.

Epstein works to engage his audience. He showed a clip from one of his documentaries in which the audience goes on a walking tour along with the documentary to actually view the locations in the documentary. He said that his documentaries “always have the audience doing something.”

Curtis focused on the quality of the storytelling. He focused on the idea of making sure you having valuable information and quality. He said, “You are making films to show people what is going on in the world.” At the same time he pointed out the value of YouTube’s “Sneezing Panda” video, which he regarded highly. Unfortunately, Stoll and Whiteside don’t feel the same way about these online videos, and the “cat video” sensation was a large topic of the discussion.


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