Most television drama today is very predictable because it’s been seen many times before in different forms. However, as Marc Shmuger has made clear through his work, documentaries give a real and rarely-heard voice to issues existing today that are anything but predictable. Documentaries speak truth, and even the powerful have to listen.
There Are Many Stories Out There
Every year, hundreds of documentaries are made that tell relevant stories that can create social impact or create awareness. Unfortunately, most of them never get seen by the general public because the films are not widely distributed. Because of this, many filmmakers look first for the possible impact the story will have rather than selecting a topic and using their talents to create an impact.
One way to bring more issues to the attention of the public is through the Internet. A focus on making short documentaries that can be downloaded on to smartphones is gaining popularity in Europe and Asia. At first, filmmakers were worried about losing their creative rights if their films go viral online, but with direct marketing strategies and partnerships with other sponsors and sources, they can show their work without losing integrity.
Documentary films are a way to combine real stories with all the drama of fiction and none of the predictability. For example, the story of a boy finding his way out of poverty through athletic ability is gripping especially when all the twists and turns of his life are true. Not only can a film document the boy’s journey, it can also include the impact of politicians, journalists, social workers and the media on the boy and his family as they find a better life. The story is gripping, but the facts surrounding the story are eye-opening for people who have never considered the real path out of poverty.
Push the Agenda
Documentary filmmakers use their art to push serious agendas that most people will never see. From child labor and sex slavery to environmental issues and healthy farming, these films turn a light on practices that need to be stopped. A film is the best way to bring these issues to people because it makes them easier to understand. Some people believe that documentary films are the most important medium for social change available today.
Art or Money
Ordinary TV and films are made to increase profits. Even if they bring a pertinent social message, they will flop if they don’t bring money too. In order to be successful, the TV programs or films may also need to be politically correct. Documentary films don’t require such a big budget to start with and are often funded by concerned individuals and institutions. Since they are focusing on the facts, there is very little or no concern for offending anyone. The food production business is one example of an industry that documentary films have exposed to the public. When people see how their crops are grown and how their meat lives and dies, it has a big impact. This is one reason these films don’t get wide circulation on TV or in theaters, but when they are seen online, they change lives.
Documentary films are alive and well, and these filmmakers do society a great service.
Don’t you agree?