I’ve been promising this for a couple of posts now so it is about time I got around to addressing the voice. Pre taking on the challenge of making a documentary, this was a concept I’d never consciously been aware of and certainly never given it any thought. I was aware that some documentaries felt different to others, but I didn’t know why.
The simple answer is that the voice is the drive of the documentary. It is often the documentary maker or the main subject but there are nuanced ways of achieving this.
We can have the documentary maker on screen clearly leading the action and doing most of the talking a la Michael Moore.
Or we can have the documentary maker on screen acting as an interviewer who directs the action with well placed questions, this time Louis Theroux is a good example.
Then there are documentaries like Sync or Swim, which is a BBC Storyville documentary featuring Dylan Williams but does not feel like it is driven by him.
Finally, there are documentaries where you hear a collection of voices talking about one person or topic, sometimes including the voice of that topic, with no central narrator except the occasional bit of text. This can be seen in another Storyville story about the amazing Randi Exposed: Magicians, Psychics and Frauds.
What will I choose? This is something that I have been asked repeatedly by my tutors and something that I have had to put a lot of thought into. I can imagine myself making a Louis Theroux style documentary around this topic as I am very comfortable in the martial arts world, but I wan’t this to be about women in the arts and if I include myself too much it will become about me and my experiences of women in the arts and interactions with female martial artists. I’m not sure that’s what I want.
What I do want is to be lead by Gemma’s voice with as little of me on screen as possible and I don’t want my voice intruding (I mean my actual voice, who doesn’t hate their own voice on camera?). But I am cogent of the need for there to be evidence of me in the film as I don’t feel it is right to hide that I am a man talking about women and their experiences.
So yes, all going well the documentary will be Gemma’s voice, even if it is me putting it together.