The ethical stance and its representation in the expressive techniques of documentary filming: a case study of Tagged

Routledge_Taylor and Francis
Publication Type:
Journal Article
New Review of Film and Television Studies, 2012, 10 (3)
Issue Date:
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Debates about ethics in documentary film tend to be sporadic, applying seasoned topics of ethical debate to documentary filmmaking or using textual analysis to examine the ethics encoded in specific films. Yet research reveals that questions of ethics preoccupy documentary filmmakers, who struggle with ethical issues in the making of their films. Recent scholarly discourse has sought to reinvigorate the academic study of ethics in documentary film with fresh conversations addressing meta-, normative, and applied ethics in relation to the field. This paper's contribution to that conversation draws on a reflexive and empirical examination of ethics undertaken during the production of a documentary film (Tagged) in the context of practice-led, higher-degree research. The study examined the film's ethical stance based on the ethics brought to the production, changes during the production, and the ethics encoded in the aesthetic and discursive elements of the completed film. Key ideas from documentary and ethnographic filmmaking theory are used to identify what might constitute ethics in relation to this film, where these might be located, and how they might be read, in order to better understand how we might conceptualise ethics in the practice of documentary filmmaking, examined through authorship, reflexivity, truthful representation, and the concept of conversations
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