INDUSTRY INSIGHTS: Is Narration a Storytelling Red Flag?
NALIP Mentor and Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi wrote this article for The Independent as part of her series"Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling." Fernanda's birthday is tomorrow, and we all wish her a happy brithday! Photo by brtsergio.
Myth: "Narration in a documentary is bad storytelling."
The Myth in All Its Glory
Narration, a.k.a voiceover, is as vilified by the filmmakers of the verite persuasion as it is glorified by their counterparts, the lovers of the investigative genre. For those in the middle, however, the question of whether to add as little as a single line of the spoken word often creates anguish only comparable to the one we had in school when we had to choose between two friends. The choice made us a traitor to the other side, no matter the justification.
And that's because voiceover is never just about writing or recording lines of text, it's often about supporting a whole ideology. Narration, however, is just one story element among many. It all depends on its appropriate use rather than some imagined intrinsic value. And like many myths, its proliferation gave the spoken word such a bad rap that its good got lost in the shuffle. Let the voice(over) of those who have not been heard speak up its truth.
Possible Origin of the Myth
A long, long time ago, "God" used to record narration for documentaries... and "God" was a white male in his 50s. Shooting was limited, and information was very much needed, so "God," with His thunderous voice, told us how to understand and interpret the story as it unfolded. In fact, narration was the story.
The next generation of filmmakers rebelled. Smaller cameras in hand, they made themselves invisible, becoming privy to gems of truth. The following generation not only used even smaller cameras, they also found cheaper stock. They shot so much that the story told itself, with no narration needed. And after all, who was the filmmaker, that silent witness, to tell the audience what to make of things? Cameras captured reality in an objective way -- or at least so they said -- and narration was neither objective nor real. Besides, true auteurs didn't want to be confused with TV producers who continued to use voiceovers. And so the myth was born.
Call for Submissions: National Awards for Excellence in U.S. Journalism on Latino Issues
The AL DIA Foundation proudly presents two $10,000 awards to journalists for best examples of Print Journalism in Spanish and Digital Journalism in English or Spanish about U.S. Latino issues:
Spanish-Language Print Journalism
An example of news reporting, investigative journalism, feature writing, crónica or opinion of any length on any topic published between January 1 and December 31, 2009 in a Spanish-language newspaper in the US. The award goes to the writer or writers of the piece. The submission must be in Spanish.
Digital Journalism (English or Spanish)
A work of any length on a topic of significance to U.S. Latinos that has been published by a website between January 1 to December 31 2009. English-language and Spanish-language journalists from any digital news organization in the US, as well as bloggers, are invited to submit their work in this category. The submission can be an example of news reporting, investigative journalism, feature writing, crónica, opinion or a blog. Submissions may be in Spanish or English, or both.
The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2009.
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Call for Submissions: peermusic Latin Scholarship
The peermusic Latin Scholarship for songwriters and composers of Latin music is accepting applications for 2010.
The peermusic Latin Scholarship was established by Ralph Peer II and generously funded by peermusic in 2003. The annual competition offers a $5,000 scholarship, which is awarded for the best song or instrumental work in any Latin genre. The competition is open to songwriters and composers who are current students at colleges and universities located in the United States and Puerto Rico. Applicants must be between the ages of 16 and 24. All words and music must be original.
The application deadline is February 8, 2010 (postmark).
Visit the scholarship's webpage for details and a downloadable application.
Call for Submissions: Mexico International Film Festival
The Mexico International Film Festival is excited to announce our annual Call for Submissions for film and screenplay projects! The festival will be held May 28th - May 30th, 2010 on the serene and beautiful Baja Coast of Mexico.
The MIFF is committed to bringing the best independent cinema from around the world to Mexico. In addition to screening compelling and diverse contemporary independent cinema, the 2010 Mexico International Film Festival will attract international filmmakers, producers, and artists from around the world.
The Mexico International Film Festival features premiere screenings, award ceremonies, seminars, a screenplay competition and, of course, gorgeous beaches, delicious food, incredible nightlife, and all that make Baja, Mexico one of the most unique and exotic vacation destinations in the world.
Late Deadline: January 10, 2010
Extended Deadline: March 15, 2010
For details and submission information please visit mexicofilmfestival.com
Awards are given in several categories including Feature, Documentary, Short, Animation, Music Video, Student, Direction, Acting and Screenwriting.
The Grand Jury Prize will be presented to the best film in competition as selected by a jury of industry professionals.
The prestigious Golden Palm awards will be presented to the best film in each of the main competitive categories along with Special Jury Prizes and the Award for the Best First-Time Filmmaker.
FILMMAKER PANELS & PARTIES
Filmmaker panels provide audience members and film-lovers the opportunity to learn from and directly engage some of the brightest independent filmmakers, writers and actors from around the world.
Interactive question and answer sessions, round-table discussions, and seminars explore the craft and creative process of cinema, as well as the business of making, financing, and distributing a film.
And be sure not to miss our unique opening night Filmmakers' Beach Party!
The Screenplay Competition for the Mexico International Film festival is now accepting entries in all screenplay genres and lengths!
Ten scripts will be recognized as Finalists in the Competition along with 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place Winners.
Cash prizes are awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.
Winners will have the opportunity to have their work forwarded to our talent management and agency partners. Finalists and Winners will be featured on our website and in our annual Press Release announcing the Winners of the Competition.
Latin Fusion Entertainment Seeking Completed Films and Scripts
Latin Fusion Entertainment wants to help you distribute your English-Language Latino and Spanish-Language Film! Latin Fusion Entertainment is a distributor of Spanish Language/Latino Films in the US home video market. We are interested in expanding our search for both completed films for acquisition as well as Low Budget Scripts for Production.
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Attn: Film Submission
Latin Fusion Entertainment
12228 Venice Blvd., Suite 431
Los Angeles, CA 90066
Please contact us for script submission procedures.
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