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Expository documentaries are documentaries that
speak directly to the audience through an authoritative
commentary by voice-overs, presenters. Expository
documentaries are informative and rhetorical but offers
an objective point of view. The codes and conventions
of an expository documentary are voice-overs which
addresses the audience directly to the documentary,
footage that counterpoints the voice-over, continuity
editing in order to link the footage together. Another
convention is that the person who provides the voiceover for the documentary has lots of creditability or
with a profession that the topic of the documentary is
about. An example of a creditable yet well-known
personality that viewers tend to trust is someone like
David Attenborough.

An example of an expository
series called Life which was
produced from the National
Discovery Channel in 2009. David
Attenborough narrates the documentary series through
different wildlife habitats also he uses the form of
voice-overs to express all of the facts whilst the visual
images compliment what he is narrating. Also David
Attenborough gets all of the footage on location
meaning that the documentary is much more trusted as
you can actually see what actually happens. David
Attenborough is trusted as a narrator as he is wellknown for making wildlife documentaries meaning that
he is a credible expert on the wild life topic.
Name (2009) 6 types of documentary. Available at:
(Accessed: 18 April 2016).
amythechooch (2010) Allison Blake. Available at:
http://www.slideshare.net/amythechooch/modes-of-documentaryconventioamythechooch (2010) Allison Blake. Available at:
National Discovery (2016) Life (bbc 2009) ep 7 hunters and hunted - David
Attenborough documentary. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW1c730QKs (Accessed: 18 April 2016).

Observational documentaries are documentaries that
spontaneously observe a situation or life of someone.
The codes and conventions of an observational
documentary are the use of handheld cameras as they
can follow someone around depending on the
documentary topic, hardly any interviews, hardly any
voice-overs, and long lengthy takes tends to be used.
Also another code and convention is that it will use
synchronous sound during filming. Observational

documentary tends to follows the lives of real people

almost like a reality TV show.
An example of an observational documentary is MTVS
Teen Cribs which is tours of houses and mansions of
extremely wealthy teenagers and their families. The
whole documentary / Reality TV style show uses the
convention of the hand held camera that will follow the
main characters or the family around to give the
audience an insight to the day to day lives of the
famous/ wealthy family. The
show isnt scripted at all and
the producers of the show
arent allowed to interfere
with the action that goes on in
the house when the teenager
is showing the audience through the camera around
their house.
Name (2009) 6 types of documentary. Available at:
(Accessed: 18 April 2016).
amythechooch (2010) Allison Blake. Available at:
(Accessed: 20 April 2016).
Deb Reynolds (2012) Murals on teen cribs. Available at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kn0ZpREQ8Pg (Accessed: 20 April 2016).

Interactive documentaries are documentaries that try
to get the audience actively involved with the
documentary. The definition of interactive documentary
is the communication between the documentaries itself
with the audience so it can get the audience involved.
The codes and conventions of an interactive
documentaries includes that the documentary film
maker or presenter interacts actively with the topic that

the documentary tends to be about, interviews being

very dominate on the topic of the documentary. Other
conventions include the use of archive materials in the
form of footage, newspapers, letters etc. also
interactive documentaries mainly use hand-held
camera and always shoot on location. The documentary
film maker tends to be part of the documentary
meaning that they are visible to the audiences.
An example of an interactive documentary is Louis
Therouxs Miami Mega Jail
(produced by the BBC in 2011).
This documentary is an
documentary because the
presenter which is Louis
Theroux investigates in a jail and interacts with the
inmates of that jail he visits. The camera shots seen in
this documentary are quite long meaning that the
interaction is stronger when Louis is talking to the
BBC Brit (2015) The prison code - Louis Theroux: Miami mega jail - BBC Brit.
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cnk9T3EOsgk (Accessed: 21
April 2016).
Dictionary (no date) The definition of interactive. Available at:
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/interactive (Accessed: 20 April 2016).
amythechooch (2010) Allison Blake. Available at:
(Accessed: 20 April 2016

Reflexive documentaries are documentaries where the
film-maker fully acknowledges that they are indeed on
camera just so they can give the audiences narrative
guidance and advice on the topic that the documentary
is about. Reflexive documentaries allows the audience

to gain an insight to the filming process of the

documentary as the audience will be aware of the
pressure undertook during the production of the
documentary as well as raising awareness of the many
issues that the film maker may face during the filming
process. Reflexive documentaries are typically based on
real events or real people meaning that the
documentary will be much more truthful. The main
codes and conventions of a reflexive documentary is
that there are no editing or any special effects its only
just what the camera films in real life and also the filmmaker fills the role of the interviewer and takes the
audiences with the camera through different situations
and stories.
An example of a
reflexive documentary is
Louis Therouxs Weird
Weekends documentary
(Produced by David
Mortimer and the BBC),
which has an odd way of
film making as Louis
Theroux is in front of the camera as the main
interviewer and can sometimes participates in what
someone is doing in the documentary. In this
documentary he uses many codes and conventions of
the reflexive documentary genre as he uses a handheld camera following where the action is and what the
film-maker is doing who sometimes appear in front of
the camera as the main interviewer, making the
documentary more reflective as the film-maker will talk
to the camera about what they think about the topics
and what problems they face during the documentary
filming process.

howardsmithh (2012) Buditobon. Available at:

(Accessed: 20 April 2016).
Dione Traynor (2016) Louis Theroux weird weekends S01E07 survivalists.
Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke8FZjf9klM (Accessed: 20 April

A performative documentary is a documentary that
fully acknowledges the emotional and subjective
aspects of the context of the documentary and
addresses them towards the audience in an emotional
way. The emotional subtext of the context allows the
audiences to have different meanings towards different
crowds of people in society. The codes and conventions
of a performative documentary is that it uses both onscreen presenter and voice-over presence, often low
budgeted documentaries, uses aspects of investigating
journalism to gather up useful evidence and
information for the audiences to be aware of.

An example of a
performative documentary
is Tongues Untied,
directed by Marlon Riggs
and distributed by
Frameline & California
Newsreel. The documentary is
about a lifestyle of a proud black man who is
standing up to the world for who they are. The
documentary features some of the many codes and
conventions of the performative documentary subgenre
which is using footage of personal recollections of the
director/ film-makers emotional journey through life by
showing actors hiding away from the inflicting pain
coming towards them, this effect is extremely effective
in a way of the voice-over the footage which aids the
emotions that come with the documentary.
15, laurahillll (2012) Clhart. Available at:
http://www.slideshare.net/laurahillll15/documentary-styles-examples (Accessed:
20 April 2016).
1996, J. (2013) Codes and conventions- performative documentary genre.
Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/JLW1996/codes-and-conventionsperformative-documentary-genre (Accessed: 20 April 2016).
Gay Essential (2015) Tongues untied trailer (1989). Available at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MAIru4Bgvg (Accessed: 20 April 2016).

Realism documentaries are documentaries that
features footage and information about real life events
that has happened and would show the audiences
footage from that event to back up how real the event
was. Realism documentaries can be subjective or a
controversial concept. The codes and conventions of
realism documentaries is that it features actuality
footage, handheld cameras, interviews with witnesses,
may feature footage of the filming process like the

setting up of the camera. Also other conventions of the

documentary subgenre is that it features a voice-over
which is like a narrator to guide the audiences
throughout the documentary so they know what is fully
happening and also the types of shots used in these
documentaries are typically talking heads interviews
style of footage filmed.
An example of a realism
documentary is Supernanny
USA which is a documentary
series that thoroughly deals
with real life situations and real
life family problems. The codes
and conventions that are used
in this documentary is that it
uses a hand-held camera and it follows the family
around to get a proper insight to the familys problems.
The editing used in this documentary series are very
obvious and mainly uses talking heads shots.
93, guest 798 C. (2008) Girishgk11. Available at:
http://www.slideshare.net/guest798c93/realism-presentation (Accessed: 21 April
MorganMedia and profile, V. my complete (2012) Unit 27-Factual Programme
production techniques for television. Available at:
http://productiontechniques12.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/codes-conventions-ofdocumentary.html (Accessed: 21 April 2016).
Organic Health (2015) Supernanny US - the Mcmillion family. Available at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rweqzMGA2Ws (Accessed: 21 April 2016).

Dramatisation documentary is a documentary that
dramatizes an event and a reconstruction of an event,
novel, historic event, story for example. The codes and
conventions of a dramatisation documentary is that
they will use actors to re-enact the events that the
documentary is based on they are used just to give a

visual representation of what the event would have

looked like during the times where the event happened.
An example of a
dramatisation documentary
is a documentary from the
BBC called Crime Watch as
it wont have any actual
footage from the event in history that the documentary
is about so a re-enactment is used to show what
happened during the crime committed.
Law Offices of John M. Phillips (2016) Crime watch daily on Dr. Howard S.
Schneider, Jacksonville pediatric dentist. Available at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50IavSrjyxU (Accessed: 21 April 2016).
Kemp, J. (2011) HD95. Available at:
http://www.slideshare.net/JakeKemp/documentary-conventions (Accessed: 21
April 2016).

Narrativisation documentaries are documentaries that
have a voice-over as a narrator to tell a story towards
the audience. Narrative documentaries communicates
towards the audience of events or experiences in a
narrative form just so the audiences can understand
them better. Narrative documentary style is very
effective in telling a story and addressing an important
subject. These type of documentaries can drag on a bit
and over exaggerated depending on the topic/event.
Codes and conventions of a narrative documentary is
that they feature re-enactments of the event and a
voice over to aid the audiences of what happened at
that event that the documentary is about.
Narrativisation documentaries are documentaries that
follow a linear narrative consisting of a beginning, a
middle and an end.

An example of a narrative documentary is Murderball

(2005, directed by Dana
Adam Shapiro and Henry
Alex Rubin), because the
documentary tells
personal accounts/ stories
from multiple disabled
athletes and their struggles of
becoming athletes, this documentary tells a specific
back story of Zupans especially of how he overcame
his physical disabilities to become an athlete. In this
documentary there are lots of actuality footage to
complete the back story of Zupan and other disabled
athletes. In this example it tells a story of Zupan in a
narrative order as it starts from when he started
training with his disability to becoming a well-known
athlete competing in championships for his sport.
Codes & conventions (2005) Available at: http://mariamedia.weebly.com/codes-conventions.html (Accessed: 21 April 2016).
Kemp, J. (2011) HD95. Available at:
http://www.slideshare.net/JakeKemp/documentary-conventions (Accessed: 21
April 2016).
Hot Chick Magazine (2006) Murderball trailer. Available at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kaT5dDiISw (Accessed: 21 April 2016).