Skip Nav

How to Write a Reaction Paper to a Documentary

Tips on how to write a reaction paper to a documentary

❶This is a documentary about the ever increasing water crisis in our world today; what is causing it, the consequences, and how to stop it. To do so, you will have to be analytical.




Shed light on a little-known subculture. Some documentaries aim to cast light on a small or relatively unknown group of people whose community is quirky, bizarre, gripping, or otherwise fascinating.

The subcultures that are the subjects of these documentaries may be made up of people with a common hobby, similar life circumstances, a common background, or some other connection. There's virtually no limit to the types of stories you can tell with these sorts of documentaries — some are funny, some are sad, some are exciting, and some are a mixture of all three.

As an example of this type of documentary, check out The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. This movie dives into the bizarre world of professional video game players by following the story of a newcomer who hopes to unseat the current champion. Show the intimate side of a famous person. Some documentaries are about the lives of famous or influential people who shaped the world.

These documentaries often try to expose the "behind the scenes" trials and tribulations of someone who has a larger-than-life reputation in the public consciousness. The best of these sorts of documentaries use extensive research and interviews with experts or people close to the subject of the documentary to show the audience a side of this person that they're not already familiar with. One great example of this sort of biographical documentary is the film Tupac Resurrection.

Using home movies and interviews with dozens of people who knew the rap icon including some with the rapper himself , this documentary humanizes the figure who has since become almost legendary, showing him as a sensitive, intelligent, often conflicted individual. Document an important event as it happens. Some documentaries give the audience an insider's view into an important event with audacious on-the-ground footage and interviews with the people directly involved in the event.

Sometimes, for this type of documentary, the filmmakers "embed" themselves with the people participating in an event. For instance, for a documentary about a war, the filmmakers may travel with a platoon of soldiers, filming day-to-day life on the front and documenting dangerous confrontations with the enemy as they happen. For instance, concert documentaries like Stop Making Sense simply document a band performing live on stage in this case, The Talking Heads. If well-made, these types of documentaries can be just as captivating.

Expose the dirty secrets of those in power. Some documentaries aim to take on the status quo by exposing the corruption, hypocrisy, and evil actions of powerful people or organizations. These muckraking documentaries generate outrage by showing how the stated goals of those in power differ from the actual outcomes of their behavior. Often, these documentaries will use the stories of individual people negatively effected by the actions of those in power to give a face to the harm caused by the actions of the powerful person or organization.

This type of documentary can be especially difficult to make because powerful people will naturally use their resources to resist being painted as greedy, stupid, or evil. However, with determination, lots of research, and daring reporting, it's possible to make a documentary that sparks righteous anger in the audience. As an example of this type of documentary, see Hot Coffee. This documentary investigates the infamous story of the woman who sued McDonald's after spilling hot coffee on herself and several other similar stories to show how the media, wealthy corporate interests, and the politicians they bankroll work together to erode the power that ordinary citizens have in the civil justice system.

Dig up new information on historical events. Some documentaries tackle people, places, and events from history, rather than recent or present ones. Because the subjects of these documentaries are often already gone, these types of films rely more heavily on research and interviews with experts like professors, authors, and so on than other documentaries.

However, it's still possible to tell a compelling story about the past that's relevant to the present by illustrating the link between the two to the audience. One recent documentary that does this well is the film The Act of Killing. This documentary makes powerful statements about the human capability to commit evil by covering the filmmaker's attempts to get the perpetrators of an Indonesian genocide to reenact the mass-killings they participated in.

Some documentaries simply try to capture something exceptionally unique. This can be an event that most people aren't aware of, a person who isn't famous but still has a fascinating life story, or an interesting piece of history that's been lost to time. The best of these types of documentaries make statements use their unique subjects to illustrate larger points about the way the world works or the way people are are.

One great example of this sort of documentary is Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man. By telling the story of Timothy Treadwell, a man who voluntarily lived in the wilderness of Alaska with grizzly bears and was eventually killed by the bears, Herzog paints a picture of one man's odd relationship with nature that resonates even with audiences that would never consider doing something similar.

The first step to writing your documentary is to educate yourself about your subject as much as you can. Use books, online writings, and especially primary sources which have the benefit of providing information directly from the people involved in the subject of your documentary to become an expert on the people, places, and things your documentary is about. Knowing all about your subject makes it much easier to find a compelling "angle" for your documentary to take.

In addition, having a good knowledge of your reference material will allow you to know what information you want to present in your documentary and the sources you should attribute it to. If you're unsure of where to start, try going to a local university and contacting a professor who's an expert in the subject of your documentary. Though they may not know everything you want to find out about your subject, they will usually be able to tell you where to look to find this information.

Make your point with a lean, logical progression of information. In their own way, documentaries tell stories with characters, settings, and plots, just like narrative films.

Your documentary should have a beginning, middle, and end that work together to convey some sort of logical message or "point" to the audience. In short, your audience should tell a "story" as directly and efficiently as possible.

This requires deciding what order to present the information in your documentary to the audience. For example, if you're making a documentary about the drug trade between the U.

You probably wouldn't want to start with an interview with a stuffy professor — just like a normal movie, a documentary should aim to hook the viewer off the bat. Storyboard the progression of your movie. Though documentaries don't generally have scripts, they should be well-planned. Having a basic storyboard for the story you want to tell with your documentary can help you plan and schedule your shooting and give you a sense of purpose and direction.

A storyboard can also help you visualize the sorts of shots you'll want to use for your documentary. Like an ordinary movie, documentaries can use visual storytelling techniques to make their point to the audience. While a storyboard can be a great tool for a documentary filmmaker, it's worth noting that, for some documentaries, some of your footage may come from events that spontaneously occur in front of you.

Be open to the possibility of shooting footage without a plan — surprise moments that are captured on camera can make a documentary. Write an organized schedule. Like ordinary films, most documentaries need a schedule to ensure that shooting stays on-track and that all of the goals the filmmakers are aiming to achieve are met.

Your schedule should incorporate any traveling you'll need to do to complete your filming as well as an outline of any important events you'll need to be present at. Your schedule should also definitely include a timeline for any interviews you hope to conduct.

You'll need to contact the people you want to interview as early as possible to have the best chance of getting their time, so plan the interviews out well in advance of when you plan to begin shooting. Scrip any narration that will be used for the movie. One part of a documentary that is scripted is any sort of narration in the movie. Voice-over narrators need a script that clearly and efficiently explains the information that the documentary can't convey visually.

Even textual narration without a voice-over needs to scripted in advance so that your editor or animator will know what to include in the text. Some documentaries, especially those about historical figures or events, will include re-enactment segments featuring actors. If these re-enactments include any dialog, the actors will need scripts in advance so that they can practice their line delivery. If there isn't any dialog in your re-enactments, your actors will still need stage directions, which you'll need to write as well.

Be a merciless editor. Don't be afraid to cut anything that doesn't help your documentary prove its point as effectively as possible. The appropriate technique to follow is to be attentive for visual cues as well as listen for key words, main concepts and supporting evidence. For instance, it is very probable that in the beginning of the presentation, whether in a lecture or a film, the speaker or narrator will announce what the purpose is or a mood will be created.

Once you have jotted these down, in all probability, the presentation's organizational pattern will begin to emerge. Take down only essential information; keep it brief. Separate main points from sub-points and evidence. Now that you have the raw material from which your analytical essay is about to emerge, look at your notes carefully and begin to relate all of the parts to the whole.

Ask yourself what did the speaker or narrator want to accomplish as well as what information was presented. After having decided what the purpose and the thesis are, you are now ready to write. Make sure that the thesis is backed up by main points, and these, with sub-points and evidence.

Furthermore, make sure to connect all of the main points through the use of transitions so as to indicate the relationship between them. Remember to be brief but, at the same time, complete.

In analyzing a feature film, make sure that you do not merely describe its plot. The plot is merely a mechanism for packaging what the film is really about.

Again, what you will be focusing on are the themes and values that the movie advances. To do so, you will have to be analytical. Once you have decided what its themes are, each may then be illustrated through the use of events and characterizations depicted in the feature film.

For instance, the film Titanic deals with, on the surface, the sinking of a ship. However, what you will be writing about is what ideas the film advances: Each of these ideas can then become a separate topic sentence, the central idea of a paragraph, anchoring a paragraph which can be developed by alluding to situations and characterizations that are portrayed in the film.

Once you have decided what these topic sentences are going to be, then formulate a thesis which will synthesize these subordinate ideas into a unified whole.


Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Documentary Essay Examples. 16 total results. The Major Social Problems Around the World. 1, words. 3 pages. Review of Film Control Room. 1, words. 3 pages. A Review of the Documentary The 11th Hour About the Destruction of Balance Between Humans and Nature. Essay Writing .

Privacy FAQs

How to Write a Reaction Paper to a Documentary. For you to deliver a good and compelling documentary review, it is important that you know how to write a reaction paper to a documentary. Writing reaction or response papers about documentaries require students to properly understand the given material and present and argument showing how it fits into the course work.

About Our Ads

The documentary film is a genre which has connotations with "truth" and reality. Over the course of this essay I intend to use these two filmmakers use the documentary film serves as a vehicle for the promotion of self. /5(5). A Synopsis of the Documentary Live Nude Girls Unite. Live Nude Girls Unite The film “Live Nude Girls Unite” is a documentary recorded by the exotic dancers themselves that takes their audience on their journey as they try to unionize their jobs.

Cookie Info

According to the service write essay buy online essay question when to write a person's role than of appendices in heart of program. Place to write a different essay sample essays, ellie cawthorne investigates the use this resource that. Knowing how to write a reaction paper to a documentary can help you in quite a number of areas, besides passing an assignment or term paper. It is an ideal of way of enhancing your analytical and evaluation skills for better communication.