Mapping the Documentary Field: Independent Filmmaking and Television in Australia

By Dugald Williamson.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Television has become the prime medium for distributing documentaries in many countries during the past quarter of a century. In some countries, including Australia, independent filmmakers have increasingly come to interact with broadcasting institutions, public film assistance organisations and market networks of program distribution. These developments have created controversy among scholars and filmmakers over the influence that television exerts on documentary forms. This paper presents a tripartite method for investigating the changing field of documentary: analysis of film support bodies and film policy; attention to the practical experience of independent filmmaking related to television; and exploration of the correlations between documentary forms and their contexts. In doing so, it draws on data, examples and ideas developed in a collaborative research project that focuses on recent Australian documentary. The researchers in this larger project have conducted interviews with filmmakers and cultural administrators, and have investigated the relations between independent production and the structures of film assistance and national and international television distribution. While identifying the problems in the search for documentary form and meaning, the paper highlights the capacity of independent filmmakers to respond imaginatively to changing industrial and technological circumstances.

Keywords: Documentary, Television and Documentary, Independent Filmmaking

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 9, pp.217-224. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 510.173KB).

Associate Professor Dugald Williamson

Associate Professor, School of English, Communication and Theatre, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

Dugald Williamson teaches and researches in media, communication and cultural studies. He lectured in these areas at Griffith University, Brisbane from 1978 to 2000. In 2001, he joined the School of English, Communication and Theatre (now the School of Arts) at University of New England, Australia. His current research projects are on Australian documentary in the changing industrial and policy context, professional writing and civics.

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