Subject Most films are primarily meant to entertain audiences. For a while, peo- ple can escape their problems and enjoy some time away from reality. Documentaries, on the other hand, are aimed at catching the audi- ence’s attention. They want to inform viewers about a subject. Some even want the audience to take action about something. Fiction or Nonfiction Most movies are fiction. Even those based on real events generally have extra drama, added through the imagination of those involved in writing the script. All documentaries are nonfiction. New characters and events are not created for documentaries. The Telling of the Story Films have to fill the screen for up to two hours or more. This allows time to develop complex characters and plot twists. Multiple cameras and camera views help bring the audience into the film. Film writers use many of the same techniques that novel writers do. Through the movie’s script, characters, and action, viewers experience a story’s beginning, middle, high point (climax), and end ( denouement ). Most people who appear in documentaries are not actors. They don’t act, and the words they say come from them, not a script. Without a script, those making the documentary can be surprised at what ends up being said! It makes the process of making a documentary less predict- able. Sometimes the story takes off in a different direction from what the creators had originally planned. While films have the benefit of multiple cameras to provide shots of characters and action from many perspectives, a single camera is often used in documentaries. In some cases, it may not be that different from the one you and your family use to record events.

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