The shadow becomes the substance: The documentary

By Paul Howard August 29, 2013

As a filmmaker I know that a documentary film can be described as a form of motion picture or a series of images and sounds which are intended to document some aspect or aspects of reality. However, the documentary genre, with its inherent drive to document reality, has to give consideration to how the recorded ‘reality’ is subject to the filmmakers’ interpretation. Essentially we have two distinct aspects which, in Bohmian speak are, the ever changing and evolving nature of reality itself and the objective-subjective interpretation of that reality through various means – be it through philosophy, literature, religion, science, the arts and through film-making.

In a practical sense filmmaking and documentary are a mixture of objective illustrative images and sounds that represent the factual nature of the world in which we live in combination with the subjective interpretation of the filmmaker. So rather than just presenting a series of factual images and sounds, the most interesting documentaries are, in my view, made by film-makers who can illuminate the ever changing nature of the factual world around us and hopefully, through perceptive interpretation, can potentially create a momentum for meaningful change in society.

And that is why David Bohm, as a subject for a filmmaker like myself, is hugely interesting.

Today I think most would agree that we are reading less, watching and listening more. Filmmaking, television and interactive social multi-media have captured and expanded the area of communication on all levels.

That mixture of the illustrative and interpretive can be made up of varying combinations of moving pictures, animation, graphics, natural sounds, sound effects added in post-production, interviews, music and voice-over. The tools that make up the filmmakers palette are wide and varied which give him/her a great opportunity to represent and interpret the world in which we live. By documenting events and individuals who are or have been agents for transformation in society, the filmmaker can in turn create the possibility for meaningful change by documenting those events and telling stories through this powerful medium.

Filmed images linked to the spoken word build up images that impact deeply on our minds and our subconscious. Images can inspire, set fire to our imagination. Images can create legends and destroy old ones, influence thinking and explain just about everything. No other medium can do more or have a greater impact than a well-crafted film, television programme, video or multi-media production.

The range of genres are wide and varied: from creative documentary, news and current affairs, biography, natural history, science, wildlife, entertainment, comedy and more recently the internet and social media. In all cases and across all genres, each tells us something about what’s happening in the world and maybe at some deeper level within ourselves.

So over the coming weeks and months I hope to take a look at some of the tools available to the filmmaker and the effect these can have in producing positive outcomes for the intended audience. Please feel free to comment and debate any of the subject matter or issues that may arise…

So I invite you to take the journey with us……….