Interactive Documentary Case Study

I watched several different interactive documentaries on NFB. I found them to each be individually creative in a spectacular way in their use of visuals and soundscapes. One that I found really fascinating and beautifully executed is named ‘The Next Day.’

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It introduces its four key persons who are involved with the documentary, each of them having chosen to take part. The start screen introduces the interactive documentary as being expressive of what happens after a suicide attempt for the 19/20 million people who survive. The stories include ones about life before, during and after the attempt. It is based on a book that talks about the same topics but through the eyes of one man in particular.

The audience clicks through each of the pages to find themselves in front of a cartoon house. From there, the interaction comes from the ability to decide how the story is told. On each section, there are four choices and the user must decide which story they want to hear next. Each is a story from one of the four participants who tells aspects of the life that relate to their suicide attempt(s).

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Audience members are basically able to control how they want these stories to be told to them by choosing the topics that they would like to see covered. That is the interaction that they are able to provide.

The use of the voiceover allows the participants to retain some form of anonymity while still being recognised by their name on the screen. The use of cartoons juxtaposes the sadness of the issues that are present while creating an arena that can showcase these stories in a way that is easy for the audience to digest. The use of sound effects really takes the audience on a roller coaster of emotion where the rain comes into during the stories of heartache and suffering, while the birdsong and melodic music is heard during the start and the end where the stories are based on childhood and then recovery.

At the end of this interactive documentary, there are cartoon pictures that show each of the speakers in cartoon form and what they have gone to do since beginning the road to recovery. This makes the speakers personable and relatable to the audience and the audience is somewhat able to but a name to a face and see the person not just as the story that they have told, but as an actual person.

An interactive documentary is defined in Kate Nash’s ‘Modes of Interactivity:  analysing the webdoc,’ as “a body of documentary work distributed via the internet that is both multi-media and interactive.”

This interactive documentary expands on the idea of interaction, not through social media but instead through giving the users an opportunity to provide feedback. They also offer the option of sharing this documentary on various social media sites (pictured below).

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I think that an if the makers of this interactive documentary wanted to expand their social media reach, they could potentially make the book available on other platforms. I think that this is very possible because not all of the small stories are told and going through each of the stages within the documentary a few times through different mediums would allow for the user to experience all of them.

I think it is also possible to transform this interactive documentary into a participatory documentary by making it open to the public to add stories that would be collated and added to the mix. The issues could be placed under different theme titles. However, I think that this should be separate from this current documentary as it may lack a bit of structure. On second thought, I think that maybe making this into a participatory documentary would be unwise in that it may end up lacking the seriousness and sincerity that is portrayed in this piece. Perhaps creating a entirely separate participatory documentary would be more fitting.

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