Docs

SQUAWK box: Storytelling

Storytelling techniques were the topic du jour during September's Le Rendez-Vous in Biarritz. With international buyers screening French programming for days at a time, it's no wonder the future of storytelling styles was top-of-mind for attendees.
October 1, 2007

Storytelling techniques were the topic du jour during September’s Le Rendez-Vous in Biarritz. With international buyers screening French programming for days at a time, it’s no wonder the future of storytelling styles was top-of-mind for attendees.

A sampling of their thoughts:

‘There’s always a risk that you’ll have to keep doing something better and bigger, like sensationalist ‘the end of the world is coming’ programs,’ says Finnish pubcaster YLE acquisition executive, international program acquisitions Nina Tuominen. ‘I really hope that’s not going to be the trend. My wish is that the traditional documentary will exist in the future. Something without re-enactments, with good science in it; there can be elements of emotion with the editing and music, but I’m always in favor of the traditional documentary with good journalism and accurate information.’

Céline Payot, VP of international sales and marketing at Paris-based prodco Zed, echoes those thoughts. ‘We’re hoping there will be less sensationalist TV with guts and accidents; we hope it comes back to a little more traditional style. We believe there are people that want to watch traditional documentaries.’

It all comes down to having a strong story, says Swedish pubcaster SVT’s head of factual, music and arts program acquisitions Mikael Osterby. ‘You have to have a feeling of a person telling a story, and there’s going to be more of that in the future… My feeling is that people are tiring of the shock doc. I think we’re tired of ‘My twin sisters are having sex with my Martian neighbor.”

Elvira Lind, German broadcaster Spiegel TV’s head of acquisitions and sales, is uncertain about the future of blending fact and drama. ‘I’m not sure that what’s called factual drama, with the mix of documentary and re-enactment, will really develop because it’s already reached a line where you can call it fiction.’ Words that would make any doc purist cringe.

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.

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