THE FUTURE OF (ONLINE) FILMMAKING
Like every other area of life, social connections, business, publishing and art, documentary filmmaking is influenced by technological developments. New channels like Youtube and Vimeo have emerged, and have made it possible that everybody is a potential filmmaker and can share her or his works very rapidly. I-phones have made it possible that everybody is a cameraman; extremely simple programs have created millions of new editors –as teenagers.
What does this all mean for the future of serious content, for the future of narration in documentary filmmaking?
DeepFocus WebDocs specializes in ‘auteur’-webdocs: urgent matters seen through the eyes of real filmmakers.
The video blog ON THE GROUND brings personal short videos "behind" the news. Direct personal stories that connect to the genre of video-diaries / video-letters, bring immediate identification and make the news understandable on the personal level. The films range from 12 – 16 minutes.
The main challenge is to bring the right story at the right time -the urgency behind each film is paramount.
But the news-value is not the main topic of interest; we focus precisely on the approach of the author, who through his / her particular way of storytelling enforces identification, makes the viewer share the urgency of the subject and also concentrates on the artistic value of the work.
The profile of the series consists of three main characteristics.
1: Personal & Urgent
Personal involvement is key. Either the filmmaker or the protagonist tells the story in 1st person singular. This approach is the basis of identification with the subject. The highly personal narrative needs to be combined with a broader sense of urgency: this singular story is a perspective on a broader issue that is recognizable and important.
2: From news to storytelling
The story comes first. Personal observation and presentation of the subject. Stories have their own merit, their own truth. The truth comes from beauty, urgency, style, and new perspectives.
3: From eyewitness to I witness
The story is not built up by combining different points of view of eyewitnesses and / or experts. The approach of the short films is based on the idea of ‘I witness’. Immediacy and storytelling go hand in hand.
Since October 2013, Jos de Putter has been producing, editing and presenting short documentaries ("webdocs") for online platforms via Deepfocus Webdocs. The webdocs offer serious and innovative visual journalism, provide context and offer insight into the impact of "the news" on a personal level. In this way they distinguish themselves from the current range, both online and from traditional media; newspapers occasionally show online video with the news, but only as an illustration - no independent webdocs that reflect on the news. Television has no room for productions made with an eye to online distribution - and that also have consequences for storytelling and story building.
These webdocs have been published on the De Correspondent site since the start of De Correspondent (October 2013), which focuses specifically on this target group. Since the start, the Correspondent has grown from 20,000 to more than 65,000 members, which proves that the target group is increasingly being reached and participating: there is also discussion about the offer.
The webdocs are shown on De Correspondent in a series entitled "On the Ground". The series has a clearly recognizable substantive and stylistic profile: filmmakers (so visual storytellers instead of journalistic reporters!) Preferably make personal and urgent films in their own environment, as a "video letter" or "video diary".
The films appeal directly to the viewer (a condition for successful online publication, we think), in the first person singular. The maker / author acts as a guide, with his / her reflection on a theme that is recognizable and relevant to the viewer. The webdocs thus ensure identification with author and subject and contribute to an understanding and contextualization of the impact of "the news" at individual and local level.
Between October 2013 and summer 2019, more than 90 short (between 10 and 16 minutes) webdocs were produced. Since 2018, short 'video letters' are also being produced for Human / NPO.www.human.nl/2doc-kort
Several films have been awarded at major international festivals: such as a Silver Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for SHIPWRECK LAMPEDUSA and the European Film Award 2016 for 9 DAYS -FROM MY WINDOW IN ALEPPO as the most eye-catching prizes. In 2018 MERYEM (directed by Reber Dosky)was nominated for a European Film Award.
Below a selection of the webdocs produced by Deepfocus Webdocs between February 2015 and October 2019:
Diary of a homing pigeon
See no evil
Solo; out of a dream
The Urker Manchoir Hallelujah
Beyond the game
Before the flood
Nor his donkey
Solo; the law of the Favela
It's been a lovely day
Sidik en de panter
Jos de Putter