Broadcasting Today

Behind the Headlines

BT J. Igiri

By Jennifer Igiri

Filmmakers Roger Graef and Magnus Temple featured on Broadcasting Today at Middlesex University in October, offering students insights into the world of Documentaries.

Being a filmmaker in the 21st Century induces a desire for an abundance of technology at one’s disposal. Temple encourages students not to get carried away by the paraphernalia, but to focus on storytelling. “…You’re still trying to tell very specific, often quite intimate stories. It’s very important that you don’t get carried [away], the technology […] is just one method of capturing human stories”.

An effective approach to documentaries, shared by Graef, is to produce “behind the headlines” footage. He advised students “instead of taking the most extreme cases that [are] shocking and tabloid-y” try and subvert stereotypes by choosing a good angle to the story. These methods will produce more compelling footage than over-sympathetic, or ‘cutesy’ material.

One of the most insightful pieces of advice given to the students by Temple, award-winning creator of One Born Every Minute and other documentaries, was that you probably won’t know beforehand if your idea will work. “You just have to go with your instincts about what’s going to make a compelling storytelling”. This is especially key as it offers students a freedom that gives scope to creativity.

“We don’t teach justice, we teach law” were the words that first inspired Graef, creator of award winning Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go and other documentaries, to begin his ‘justice seeking’ career-pursuit outside of the courtroom and behind a camera. He was inspired by films in which “nobody told you what to do, nobody told you what to think, you just had the evidence”. Documentary films are particularly powerful as they allow filmmakers to expose compelling and shocking stories, without the need to overdramatice.

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