My article for Script Magazine:

‘Ballet 422′ and Cinema Truth

The truth about documentary is this — there are many categories and styles — from investigative to personality-driven, to topics that expose cover-ups and catastrophes, to — well, yes – the list goes on and your imagination is the limit.

Many film theoreticians and documentarians differ on their interpretations over what elements should or should not be included when categorizing the various styles of documentary films, but what they do agree upon is this — there are no strict rules one must adhere to when making documentaries.   And so, one can say there is often an exception to every “rule” when labeling and categorizing the various styles of documentaries.

So, if one truth is that there are no hard and fast rules in making documentaries, how does the writer know how to write a documentary?

In writing and/or sketching out the ideas for a documentary you can present ideas objectively, subjectively, or let the subject and/or subject matter speak for themselves/itself. You can follow the traditional 3-act structure or a non-traditional narrative format, or use talking heads, stock footage, dramatic reenactments, voiceover narration, still photographs, live action, animation, put yourself in the story or just allow images and your subjects to convey the story. You can use some or all of these choices, or create something else. The choice is up to you.

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Choosing Cinema Vérité: Ballet 422 and Cinema Truth

Director Jody Lee Lipes describes his new documentary Ballet 422 as Cinema Vérité. Translated from the French, this term defined as “cinema truth,” is also referred to as Fly on the Wall or Direct Cinema. The “truth” is underscored in this definition; the filmmaker captures what is happening in front of the camera without artifice.

Some of the elements that are seen in Cinema Vérité include the use of handheld cameras, natural lighting, direct sound, and location filming — while elements not generally seen are the utilization of voice-over narrations, talking heads and extensive background information. Examples of this filmmaking category are the 1973 PBS series An American Family, which followed the daily lives of the Loud family for seven months and Grey Gardens (1975) directed by Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, about a mother and daughter reclusive socialites, living in a decrepit Long Island mansion.

From first rehearsal to world premiere, Ballet 422 goes behind the scenes at the New York City Ballet, as it follows Justin Peck, 25, a dancer with the NYCB and up-and-coming choreographer, as he creates his new work “Paz de la Jolla” from its first rehearsal to world premiere. This commissioned ballet is NYCB’s 422nd new ballet — hence the film’s title.

Justin Peck is the main character and the film takes the viewer on his journey, offering glimpses into the ballet world and Peck’s work process as he collaborates with fellow dancers, orchestra musicians, lighting and costume designers.

– See more at: READ MORE HERE