For my final, I decided to make a documentary on adoption. I wanted people who have never considered adoption as an option, to see this video and hopefully be swayed to look at adoption differently. For this project, I applied both the expository mode as well as the performative mode to provide an insight on how adoption has changed people’s lives.
In my short documentary on adoption, I wanted to implement the Expository Mode. According to Bill Nichols in, Introduction to documentary, expository mode addresses the viewer directly with titles or voices that tell a story, or advance an argument. This mode combines four elements; Indexical images or reality, poetic affective association, story telling qualities, and rhetorical persuasiveness. When editing this film, I made sure it maintained the continuity of the spoken argument rather than simply focusing on the rhythm or formal pattern. I organized the images to go along with the spoken so they can serve as captions.
This documentary also uses a bit of the performative mode. This mode is more about the about the relationship between the film maker and the subject. For example, the film, “The Gleaners and I” focuses on the emotional complexity. There is a much stronger emphasis on the emotional complexity of experience, from the perspective of the film maker. Performative mode, stresses the tone and mood, more so than arguments and evidence. It also calls for emotional responsiveness to acknowledge a topic rather that to gain knowledge from it. In class we watched the film, Housing Problems. This film is a great example of this mode because the film maker is set out to help the audience feel something for the people living in terrible housing conditions. The film maker wanted to emphasize the feeling of how it feels to live in a place like that. Performative mode is about getting the audience to walk a mile in the subject’s shoes. It is a very personal film to the film maker. Another example of this mode would be, Surname Veit Given Name Nam (1989). In this film, the director relies on interviews with woman in Vietnam who describe the oppressive conditions they have faced since the end of the war. Half way through the film, we discover that these interviews were staged in order to get swayed into the film makers perspective. Reflexive documentary sets out to readjust the assumptions and expectations of its audience more than to add new knowledge to existing categories.
While creating my video I decided to use a Rhetorical Voice to persuade my audience. I wanted to set out and provide a perspective on adoption so that people wouldn’t see it as a last resort but rather as an opportunity to create a family that you could love just as much as if you were biologically related. The rhetorical voice uses perspective to address those aspects of the world that do not lend themselves to scientific proof. In my video, I used personal adoption stories to influence my audience on the positive effects and blessings adoption brings to the lives of the children as well as the parents. The rhetorical voice seeks to inspire belief or install conviction about a specific viewpoint. An example of a film we saw in class with a rhetorical voice was, Harvest of Shame. This film was about the living conditions of crop pickers. The documentary was intended to call attention to the government on the living condition of the migrant workers. The film consisted of several interviews with migrant workers where they give their perspective on how they live.
Bill Nichols refers to invention as the discovery of evidence, or proofs in support of a position or argument. When working with a rhetorical documentary film the film maker uses social conventions rather than the scientific method to make a statement. Aristotle proposed two types of evidence. They correspond to the division between reference to the facts of the matter-inartistic or no artificial proofs.
Inartistic proofs include facts that lie beyond dispute. But bear in mind that the interpretation of this factual evidence may be very much in dispute, as any courtroom trail will demonstrate. Some examples of inartistic proof would be having witnesses, documents, photographs, archival footage, confessions, and physical evidence.
On the other hand, artistically or artificial evidence or proof rely on rhetorical techniques to generate the impression of conclusiveness or proof. Artistic Evidence consists of ethos, pathos, and logos to strive to convince us of an argument or perspective’s validity. Ethos is the appeal to credible or ethical proof. This generates an impression of good moral character or credibility for the film maker, witnesses, authorities, and others. Pathos is the appeal to feelings of the audience. Pathos focuses on compelling emotion to produce the desired effect. It puts the audience in the right mood or establishing frame of mind more favorable to a particular view point. Pathos uses emotion rather than logic. Last but not least, is Logos. When using Logos an argumental proof, the film director focuses on real or apparent reasoning by providing or giving the impression of proving, the case.
Models used in my film were advocacy and promotion of a cause. The documentary was stress convincing and had compelling examples; that urged a specific point of view on adoption. I edited my documentary to focus on the beauty of adoption in order to convince viewers to consider adoption as a primary option.
My video also contained several testimonials. In these testimonials, I had witnesses who recounted their personal experience being adopted or adopting a child. I wanted the parents to talk about the hardships but more than anything talks about the blessing that came after they adopted their child. I ended the documentary with Angelica talking about what adoption means to her. Since she was adopted and can now look back at how wonderful her life has been, she gets emotional talking about how her adoptive parents gave more than she could have ever asked for.
Another model I included into my video was Individual or group profile/biography. I had two families share their story of how they decided to adopt a child at their stage of life. I also had a girl who had been adopted share with us her experience of growing up in a household where she was physically different. These testimonials recount the story of these people’s maturation and distinctiveness. An example of this mode can be seen in the film, The Gleaners. In this film, we see people talking about their experience as a gleaner and how different their life is in compared to other people. The things they share are personal and impacting.
One of the most important models of my video was documentary voices. I wanted my documentary to flow with different voices going towards the same direction. I edited my video in a way in which all you hear are all these different voices sharing their testimony on how adoption changed their life. I wanted my documentary to be an eye opener to people who have never considered adoption.
My documentary on adoption’s primary goal was to touch people’s hearts and hopefully change their perspective on adoption. I used the expository mode as well as the performative mode to expose testimonials of people effected by adoption as well as help me voice my own opinion on the topic.