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Individual Reflection


Documentaries such as ‘This is Tottenham’ or  Press Tv’s – ‘Eritrea a Nation in Isolation’ inspire me to create art that can change people’s perceptions on a subject matter. The reasoning foscreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-8-04-17-pmr those two, in particular, is undeniably due to the fact I can relate to both, they contribute in explaining my identity.

I’ve noticed that I tend to enjoy social and political challenging documentaries rather than pieces about an artist or a lollipop lady. That’s why I came up with an idea of documenting an Eritrean female freedom fighter because it hasn’t really been done the way I want to see it.

Actively trying to locate and find people to feature in your documentary is hard and takes a bit of convincing. It’s shown me how to bring out a certain level of confidence when speaking to people. Initially, the way I found my subject was through a friend who worked at the Eritrean embassy who then referred me to this interesting woman. However, at the time my idea was far too underdeveloped and the only other project that stood out to me was Yusra’s idea of ‘the Syrian refugee family’. I suppose it was because it was a similar theme to mine.


Susan Sontag talks about how photography is just a fraction of the truth.     ‘photographs are evidence not only of what’s there but of what an individual sees, not just a record but an evaluation of the world’.                                                                                              The creator has chosen that exact frame for the viewer masking the full image. From that frozen moment, the audience depicts meaning of a situation/time/era and accepts it as fact. In reality,  it isn’t 100% true but has been carefully kino-glazthought through by the photographer. Once I understood this concept, I was then aware that whatever we chose to show will infer a distinctive meaning. so as a group we had to come to a mutual agreement on what the overall message of our film will be.
This lead to experimenting with multiple angles for the same shot and deciding which one we like best in the edit. Even though they all looked slightly the same they connote different meanings to an extent.  Or Dziga Vertov Kino theory may be more relevant in this case because it is a little more specific to moving pictures/documentary
‘I am the camera’s eye. I am the machine that shows you the world as I alone see it.’               it’s basically explaining a similar point to Sontag highlighting that the camera is an instrument, like the human eye, used to show actuality.

When developing our project we had to take into consideration Ethics within the documentary. For example, depending on the audience will determine how much we have to censor. Especially because of the sensitive nature of the topic, we recognise what is appropriate to ask without compromising the families dignity. I didn’t want them to feel like they were being taken advantage of, in order for it to work they needed to be comfortable but vulnerable at the same time.

Sadly when we presented our finished project, our subject disliked it to the point that he was offended which was a real blow for us as a team.  He hated it so much that we have discouraged him from getting involved with the media in the future, he regrets bringing us into his family home, but worst of all we had lost respect from an admirable man.

This is where ethics come into play, even though we invested hours of our time, grown with the project, out of respect for the family we could not use it or put it on social media.

I can only blame myself because we should’ve got him to sign the release form straight away to give us a sense of security, now we have a perfectly good documentary gone to waste. However, it was definitely a learning experience and I am still very happy as it was like practise for a better piece in the future plus I’ve improved my skills in editing sound.


There is literally no amount of planning that can prepare you for shooting, it never goes a 100% to plan. We visualised cinematic sequences layered together to generate a well polished poetic felt visuals with an expository narrative element.

IMG_2518.JPGMentally everything was there, physically we had everything. We booked a track, dolly and got a Canon 5D out but in reality it was not needed, it did not enhance our work at all. Our work lacked authenticity because of the extent we went to construct every little detail of the documentary, it meant it lost the emotional aspect.

On the day of shooting, we introduced some spontaneity, captured the family in their element.  which was almost the opposite of what we were going to do, the original plan was to only reveal the family in the end and only have decorative shots of personal items within their home. Either way, even if it turned out to be successful we still didn’t film enough shots to carry it through the whole film.


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The majority of our time was focused on perfecting the sound, we encountered problems with the smoke alarm beeping every 10 seconds but luckily the sound workshop highlighted explained how to get rid of the irrelevant sound without affecting the subject’s voice.

Visually editing the rushes was a demanding task, what we had planned did not work in the edit. The original proposal was that we wouldn’t reveal the subjects till the very end, meaning the first half would consist of just the empty house with cinematic tracking shots and close-ups of personal household items. However, we failed to capture enough shots to illustrate this idea, but also it seemed a little fictitious maybe even forged for the reason that every shot was smooth well polished and constructed to an extent. This took away the sense of realism and diminished the empathy felt by the viewer because we have gone and detached the audience from the action

However, we failed to capture enough shots to illustrate this idea, but also it seemed a little fictitious maybe even forged for the reason that every shot was smooth well polished and constructed. This took away the sense of realism and diminished the empathy felt by the viewer because we have gone and detached the audience from the action

Addition to that difficult task, we had to insert subtitles because our subject spoke in Arabic. Personally, for me, it was painful as I’m the only person who doesn’t speak the language but I was heavily involved with the edit.  Getting all the translations perfect and in the right place took time but it’s essential in publicising a message to the outside world.

During this documentary module, I’ve learnt more than in any other module due to  the informative and engaging lectures and also seeing Meera’s work giving us an idea on the quality of work we could produce in the future.


Susan Sontag (1977). On Photography. New york: Penguin; New Ed edition.

Dziga Vertov/ Annette Michelson/Kevin O’Brien (1984). KINO-EYE. California: University of California Press. 344.

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Such a difficult process! A long and painful one because of the pure fact that there’s a serious language barrier. Editing down sound is hard enough when it’s in English but as our subject spoke Arabic it meant for us needing to also translate and subtitle our film.

Luckily Husain and Yusra understand and speak Arabic which made the practice slightly less complicated. However, it was still a struggle because phrases might vary and may not make sense to a British viewer who has different social ideologies.

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Another complication we faced is not getting enough shots because in the editing process. This wasn’t apparent till we brought the shots to the editing stage. It’s almost like we were stretching to fill in the gaps for the three-minute brief.

We wanted the whole video to be an experience, so we experimented with the sounds.When the father talks about being on a boat we created sounds on logic and also recorded some, layered it with other sounds on audition to create a feel of being on the oceon but it did not take away from what he was saying.

This project involved us three being heavily involved with the Editing Process, I was in charge of the rough edit of the clips while Yusra and Husain dealt with the Arabic voiceover and we came together to fit it together like a puzzle.


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Shooting Day’S!


When making this documentary we had to consider the mood we were portraying to the audience. We needed  the feeling of empathy to come across not on through the sounds but with the visuals. This is why we focused on the family aspect.

We explained the idea to the family but the majority didn’t want to be involved with it, only the youngest son and the father. In a way, I feel like this strengthened our idea, enabling us to highlight the youngest son giving viewers time to connect and build a relationship with our subject.

It took a couple of days of filming because the videos weren’t looking the way we imagined, we planned for a certain look but something wasn’t right. We soon realised that we were constructing every little detail meaning it lacked a sense of realism that a documentary needed to be believable. Spontaneity was definitely needed implementing observational elements to our piece.

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Production Schedule

Production schedule.jpg

The productional schedule was extremely effective, it is a simple way of communicating to the whole crew what is exactly is happening. Everyone knows when and where they need to be/ at what time and the equipment needed.

In our case, it didn’t make a huge difference as it’s only three people working together which made communication relatively easier but we could see the benefits and definitely helps me visualise how the day will play out.

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Waltz with Bashir

MV5BNjM2OTI3NzQyNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjkzNzQ5MQ@@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_.jpgA lot of people argue that this falls into the documentary category. It’s an amazing                                                       film by the Iranian Ari Folman. what a refreshing way to present truth, using animation to tell the story of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon from a veteran’s perspective.

I’m not exactly sure what form it would go under but I would guess performative because the audience is watching the event unfold even if it isn’t actually actors or real time events it paints a story.’Walts With Bashir’ reminded me of ‘Persepolis’ which I first

‘Walts With Bashir’ reminded me of ‘Persepolis’ which I first watched

Persepolis_film.jpgwhen I was 14 and absolutely loved. This funnily enough was an Iranian film based on a girl growing up during the Islamic revolution. It was basically documenting events through the girls upbringing, seeing the change through her eyes. I found it to be extremely influential and is one of the reasons I wanted to get into film from a young age.

I love that this don’t follow conventional expository style works. We get to have a new experience and also viewers like receiving information in various different forms, not everyone wants to watch David Attenborough.

I want to take this into consideration when making our documentary because it’s easy to think that documentary is limiting with the stuff you can do in terms of experimentation. It’s not and its inspired us to incorporate something unique to our work.

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Shooting script

Syrian Refugee

Picture Sound
Black screen BBC News report
Empty house, cinematic shots of items in the house that give the audience a clue to the family. For example, child toys scattered on the floor. We do not reveal any persons. Fathers Voice over
Cuts unexpectedly to slow motions sliding shots & close ups of the youngest son playing and laughter. Emphasising the child’s happiness Father starts to talk about more depressing subjects. Which will be a contrast to the images being shown.

– Also sounds of laughter

Finally, we reveal the father with his son on his lap. The father has a very serious face while his son is optimistic about the world.


Cuts to black to a photo the family took off their house back in Syria. This gives the audience an idea on how different life is. This then leads to credits.

Voice over with hope of a promising future.


No sound


Updated Shooting script


Blank screen News report on the situation in Daraa, Syria is heard.
Image of the empty living room in which the family live in the UK. You see the Syrian freedom flag and other household items (Wide-angel shot/ Close-ups)The youngest son Omar is seen playing with his toys in the living room. (Some medium close-ups/ P.O.V’s) Father begins talking about their life in Daraa and the horrible things they saw.
Cuts unexpectedly to slow motions sliding shots & close ups of the youngest son playing and laughter. Emphasizing the child’s happinessOmar is shown looking at his work and certificates he has gotten in the short time he has lived in the UK. (P.O.V shot) Father mentions how his son learnt to adapt to life in the UK quickly as he is the youngest. There is a contrast , as the image is happy and he is talking about a serious topic.
Image of Omar outside having fun. You see him running in slow motion. ( shot using slider) Pictures of the families house in Syria is shown to give a contrast. Continue talking about their arrival in the UK and how they felt freedom to be away from the danger. Father feels he can continue his dream of his children having education and opportunities in life.
Omar and his father are seen together. Identity of the speaker is revealed. The father has a very serious face while his son is optimistic about the world. No sound

Shooting script needed to give us a rough idea on how the video may look, it is like a written storyboard.


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The Story of a Syrian Family Treatment –


Tragic news of bombs that have hit the city of Daraa in Syria is heard, along with a black screen. You hear the voice of the reporter explaining the situation. Mohamed a refugee living in the uk begins to speak about him and his families story. He explains how he used to live in Daraa along with his wife , his 3 sons and 3 daughters. His face is seen looking into the camera, as his voiceover continues. His expression shows that of great emotion. His eyes give the impression that he has seen a lot of terror. He is seen in his home located in Birmingham.

He continues to talk about his home in Syria and the life he led before his home was destroyed. He talks about how was a biochemist engineer and certain signs of the country changing as they lived their daily lives in relation to this his daily life in the UK is shown. He continues to talk about how his house was destroyed and footage is shown of his house in the aftermath of it all. For the first time, they were forced to leave their hometown and look for refuge elsewhere.

They are now living in the U.K and finally feel like they have control of their lives despite the fact that they had many things that they had to adjust to. The father states that he feels happy he can now fulfil the dream of sending his youngest to school. The father is seen with his youngest son who is 6 years of age. He talks about the rest of how he is grateful to have freedom of choice as it was taken away from him for so long. Things that most of us take for granted.

Every human being has the right to seek refuge in any country as it is a basic human right.


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A Nation in Isolation

Eritrea: A Nation in Isolation Documentary 


This was a highly anticipated documentary in the Eritrean community because the country does not get much press. The fact that it was going to be shown on mainstream T.V was a big deal and very exciting. However, on the day it was meant to be aired the documentary was nowhere to be seen and I still don’t quite know why.

It’s one of the only documentaries that talks positively about the country, I admire Afshin Rattansi for being brave and highlighting a different opinion even if a few of the facts were wrong.

For example using the wrong archive footage labelling it a different war, also exaggerating the number of lives lost.

But apart from the minor errors he raised questions and challenged previous ideas people had on Eritrea. Especially considering the fact that they actually made the documentary in Eritrea rather than relying on word of mouth like previous BBC documentaries.

I’d consider this documentary as participatory because Rattansi was actually inside interviewing and discovering the answers with the audience. It feels like we are on the journey with him.

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Week 2

Documentary Modes

  • Performative – Acting or demonstrating – creating a deeper understanding.
  • poetic – Rhythmic- Emotional- More experimental
  • Observational- Natural as if Camera was not there.
  • Expository – a Conventional type of documentary- often has a narrator.
  • Participatory – Interview involved with the subject
  • Reflexive – relationship with the filmmaker and the audience.biggie-and-tupac.jpg
  •  BiggieandTupac by Nick Broomfield is Participatory