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Directing the Documentary, 5th Edition by Michael Rabiger

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Chapter 6Elements and Grammar

Screen Language

People often think of screen language as professional packaging. Used as techno-wrapping, it can easily make a film mechanical and soulless, but whenever we see a sensitively shot and visualized film, we sense a questing human intelligence is at work. This is because the film’s language arises from the maker’s interests and sympathies, and he or she is using it in an emotionally integrated way. Let’s see how this works.

Imagine you go to your high school reunion and afterwards find a little cam-corder that someone has left behind. It has no name on it, so you run some of its footage to see to whom it might belong. You see what another former student filmed. The camera is his eyes and ears, and he ...

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