During class, I plan on using about an hour (2:30 to 3:30) during class to film an interview with a girl that’s on the school newspaper with me who cosplays. After, I would like to bring the footage back to the editing lab, along with the footage I have from Comic Con, and start editing it together. On Thursday, I would like to interview Cas, and during the weekend, I plan on going home and interviewing my best friend who cosplays and goes to conventions with me. I also plan on getting some B-Roll of him showing me his costumes and wigs. Then, I’m going to use Monday and Tuesday night to finish editing.
This evening on Netflix, I watched Treblinka: Hitler’s Killing Machine (2014), a documentary about a Holocaust extermination camp that has been covered up by the Nazis for decades. It was produced and directed by Alex Nikolic-Dunlop. Up until this documentary was released, there was no hard evidence of the existence of gas chambers in Treblinka; only eye-witness accounts and Nazi confessions opposed the idea that Treblinka was merely a transition camp. However, in this film, forensic scientist Caroline Sturdy Colls and her team of archaeologists finally uncovered fragments of the buildings in which these mass murders took place.
Usually documentaries don’t strike me as anything but intriguing, but this particular film both interested me and moved me. I think it really succeeded in providing a lot of information to its audience, but also reminded them that all of this happened to real people with their own lives and personalities. For example, while the narrator was describing the process in which the Nazis unloaded the Jews from the train and brought them to their deaths, the director chose to show B-roll of a bunch of family photos of Jews who were murdered in the concentration camp. While the information was purely objective, the photos humanized the victims and really made the viewers sympathize with them. The director also made the decision to show the leader of the excavation, Colls, crying during the dig. She was so horrified and saddened by her finds that she was moved to tears, and this part of the film really showed how taxing this entire experience was on the crew.
It was also really obvious to me that this was a well budgeted film. There were a lot of aerial shots of the entire area of Treblinka, and there were all sorts of interesting camera angles. One that was particularly bizarre was a shot where they put the camera in one of the trenches so that it looked like we were looking up at the archaeologist. There were a lot of shots from the helicopter they flew over the land, and a few shots where they put the camera on the side of their car to show the wheels and the road (I’m assuming this required some decent equipment to achieve).
Another interesting factor that the director added was the inclusion of old photos, videos, and documents. The inclusion of these different medias was refreshing; instead of watching fifty minutes of footage from the dig, the audience got a lot of alternation between this footage and old records. They also included virtual maps that showed Treblinka in relation to other concentration camps as well as the size and the landscape.
Overall, I thought this documentary was really well done. It was one of the only times that a documentary has really affected me; I felt a mixture of morbid interest, horror, and sorrow. The camera angles and quick cuts kept my attention and I learned a lot of new information about the Holocaust.
For my documentary, I plan on making an approximately 4-5 minute video about cosplay. I would like to discuss what cosplay is, when it is practiced, why people enjoy it, how long they’ve been doing it, why they got interested in it, and so on.
For my A-roll, I would like to interview one of my close friends who cosplays with me, and I would also like to interview a couple students on campus who are cosplayers as well. I may also interview one or two students who do not cosplay just to hear their opinions on cosplay; what they know of it so far and what they think of it.
For my B-roll, I plan on using footage from New York Comic Con (2015) of cosplayers role-playing as their characters, posing for photos, and talking to fans.
This week, I decided to watch an episode of BBC’s The Blue Planet for my documentary reflection. This episode was about the deep sea creatures of the ocean, some of which have never been seen before, and how they evolved to survive in such a dark, cold, high-pressure environment. It was produced by Alastair Fothergrill and narrated by David Attenborough.
I think that one technique that worked really well was the lack of A-roll used in this show. The narrator has nothing to do with the topic, so there is no reason to show him speaking (particularly because he isn’t an expert on deep-sea animals). I also think that the use of soundtrack and sound effects worked really well. The music, which was composed by George Fenton, was very low and mysterious to add to the creepy, dark atmosphere in which these animals live. It actually made me a little more creeped out than I normally would be by these animals. The music also became significantly more dramatic when predators would attack their prey. I especially liked the sound effects used when alien-like animals such as jellyfish and eels appeared; the director chose to use sounds that resembled that of a space-ship or a UFO to make these organisms seem even more otherworldly. I also thought that the choice to frame the shots in a way that made the animals look bigger than they actually are was a very good idea, because it made them look much more intimidating and scary, when in reality, these animals are very tiny.
Though I thought this decision was a smart one, I wish that they would’ve also chosen to show the animals in scale to the submarine that the camera-men were filming in. I think that it would’ve given the viewers a better perspective and let them see how small these animals really are (though I suppose that adds to the mystery). I also would have appreciated if they had given more exact measurements of around how deep each of the animals they showed live. However, I learned a lot in this 49-minute episode. I found that a lot of these deep-sea organisms use bio-luminescent lights for both attack and defense, that some have reflective scales to help them hide in the pitch black, and that others have huge mouths and teeth to engulf whatever they can find because food is so scarce. I think that this episode succeeded in giving off a creepy and mysterious atmosphere and made the deep-sea seem much stranger than I had already thought.