Main Task Research: Ideology

What is an ideology?
An ideology is a world view, a system of values, attitudes and beliefs which an individual, group or society holds to be true or important; these are shared by a culture or society about how that society should function.

Dominant ideologies
Ideologies that are told to us repeatedly by important social institutions such as the church, the law, education, government, and the media are called dominant ideologies.

Dominant ideologies are ideologies or beliefs that we live by in our day-to-day lives and often do not question – they have become ‘natural, common sense’ things to do. This effectively dissuades people from rebelling against these beliefs, and keeps a sense of stability in society.

Dominant ideologies include beliefs about gender roles, about the economy, about social institutions.

Consumerism has been a dominant ideology in the western world since the industrial revolution. Consumerism is a world view that a person has more worth if she or he has more material possessions and that we are made happier by consuming more goods.

How ideology relates to media studies
Media texts always reflect certain values or ideologies though sometimes we may not be aware of this. An example might be that in some texts, such as action films like the Die Hard or the Lethal Weapon series, solving problems with force is seen as an acceptable value and reflects a certain ideology.

The media is a successful carrier of ideology because it reaches such a huge audience. The study of the media allows us to consider and question dominant ideologies and look for the implications of different ideology and value systems.

When studying a media text you may look for the dominant ideology present and question whose world view is represented and which group(s) and their associated world view(s) have not been represented.

Some studies of the media concentrate on viewing texts from particular ideological perspectives, for example a feminist perspective.


Main Task Research: Representation

Documentaries are a representational medium: They record and occasionally reconstruct the everyday reality viewers typically cannot experience themselves. Because photography is an indexical sign signifying truth, audiences understand the documentary, a moving photograph, to signify truth also. However, they are able to make the distinction between the “everyday reality” presented by documentaries and the fictive “reality” of cinematic films.

But the documentary’s version of reality is not as innocent as it presents itself to be. Because of the perceived indexical truth-value of the film, the audience is drawn into an everyday reality that seemingly does not need questioning. There is “a sense of co-presence between creator and viewer that gives the viewer the sensation of being both here, now, looking at the image and there, then, looking at what the image represents or evokes.”

There are a variety of different ways specific subject areas are shown within a documentary. For example; I will be focusing on how different audiences are represented.

Below is an example to how 2 different styled documentaries can show homosexuality in a completely different representations, the first one is shown through a short film whilst the other is an interview:


Mood Board 2

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Screen grabs of a documentary cover advertisement

Why have I chosen them?

I have chosen these 6 documentary cover advertisements as they are all individual in their own ways, exploring different subject matters. All of the above advertise their whole documentary within one photo that the audience are able to interpret.


I like the way in which the lighting has the affect within this advertisement. The contrast to the person and the sky shows freedom and opportunity. The photo is a metaphor for space, as there is so much of it. The use of a low angle shot shows possible status of the person that is on top of the building, allowing us to interpret what the documentary is going to be about. The use of the white lettering placed over the top of sky makes the lettering extremely bold and basic which may affect the documentary.

The Testimony

The use of the unsaturated background signifies an oppressive, sad or perhaps angry emotions within the documentary. This may be something that I use if the person or people reflects subject matters that reflect this.

Species of the Shoah

The use of a photograph in this particular poster is unconventional for typical posters. The use of the lighting within this photo is used for effect here, the way it is strobed against his face. The basic lettering coloured in white and yellow reflects well with the shadow and is bold on the poster.

Last day of freedom

This particular poster is again, very unconventional. Instead of a photo, it looks as if it was drawn which creates a basic, yet bold meaning behind the documentary. The way in which the white background reflects the black drawing is extremely eye catching and reflects well.

Our Curse

This poster shows shape between the two characters, which sets up a clear narrative for people that are interested in watching the documentary. This is something that I may use in my documentary ancillary- Not quite the same idea but creating a narrative that overviews the whole documentary.

Photographic memory

This is one documentary poster that caught my eye as I like the way in which a photograph is used, which is clearly quite old; placed within the right hand corner. This suggests clear age differences that will show throughout the documentary and again, shows clear narrative. The lighting in the background is filtered which again suggests that this was filmed in a previous age.

Brief Ideas

As myself and Joe have now finalised our idea of doing a documentary, there are a fair few conventions that I would like to involve in the final. Although these are very brief, here are a few conventions I would like to include:

  • Shallow depth of field- this is typical to use within documentaries as the person becomes most important rather than the location and background of specific shots. I wouldShallow_Depth_of_Field_with_Bokeh like to use SDOF throughout as it allows the audience to focus on the interviewee rather than the location and what is happening within the surroundings

Here is a screenshot example that I have taken from a documentary I have found on YouTube.


  • Unsaturated/ low key lighting- this is typical to use within documentaries again as the lighting is reflected on the face whichlow-key-2 allows the audience to focus on the person
    and identify their emotions and expressions when answering a certain question. I like the way you are able to see the persons features which I think is very important when trying to capture an audience.

Here is another screenshot example.

Low angle shots- this again is very typical to use within documentaries but is also used a lot within film to make an antagonist2 - Quentin Tarantino14012016t or protagonist appear to have a higher status than anybody else within the film. I would like to use this as it creates the effect of ageism looking down on those who do participate in ageism acts against the elderly.

Here is another screenshot but from a film to where to camera acts like the boot of a car.

Documentary Inspiration

As documentaries are grounded in true stories, they can inspire in a way fictionalized films can’t. The emotional impact can be more thrilling than any blockbuster because they’re based on facts, which explains their appeal. Here are the few documentaries that I have researched that I have been inspired by:

The Cove

Psihoyos and Barry assemble a crack team to infiltrate and record the goings-on. They gather world champion free divers to plant underwater cameras and microphones. They get Industrial Light and Magic to craft hidden HD cameras in realistic boulders and shrubbery. It is very inspirational and the cinematography within it amazes me!

My Flesh and Blood

Part inspirational, part heartrending. Jonathan Karsh’s documentary follows Susan Tom, a super-mom who adopted 11 kids, all with disabilities. It’s essentially a treatise on selflessness; somehow, the woman is able to devote, voluntarily and mostly complaint free, her entire life to the care of these children. This definitely makes you think how lucky you really are to live the live that you do.


Heatherington and Junger follow the platoon from deployment.  It’s horrible and hilarious, touching on so many levels. These guys are soldiers. These are boys, these are men with families who risk getting killed every day.

Particle Fever

Although this particular documentary isn’t as heart warming and touching as those above. If you have ever questioned the intelligence of mankind then this documentary shows you how brilliant we really are as the researches from CERN look to uncover the building blocks of our universe. It is based on scientology which isn’t something i’m normally interested in however is so interesting!

I particularly like the way in which the cove uses a variety of different locations in the documentary. I would like to use locations within my documentary like it does in the cove as I think it would suit the atmosphere that I’m trying to create.

Main Task: Mood board

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I have put together a mood board of some images that I think capture ageism within the documentaries that I have watched when carrying out research for my final.



Within the documentaries that I have watched, all the shots that I have gathered above have a variety of similarity patterns in which I have identified. Firstly, all shots seem to be close ups, which are used to show emotion and the density of age that impacts people. The lighting is also very similar throughout, with the first 2 shots being lit by unsaturated lighting, suggesting how powerless the elderly feel against age, the light being a metaphor for the youngsters therefore unsaturated lighting can suggest the old and very dull.

The documentaries all seemed to have focused on the importance of family and relationships between themselves and their mothers or fathers. This is one aspect that I can take into a count when planning and filming my documentary as it can connect with people watching a lot easier.


The few differences that I have pointed out throughout the documentaries I have watched is that none of them have a younger person being the interviewee; this is vital if you want to connect to a wide universal audience as it allows the younger generation to understand and stay engaged. Secondly, despite the shots being mainly close ups, the angles in which they have been shot by are switched between low angle shots, creating status which allows the audience to see ageism to have a bigger impact. Whilst others use a neutral, almost parallel angle to their face which allows all the audience to feel on the same level as the interviewers.

A filter is also used in some of the documentaries. As you are able to see in the 6th photo, a sepia filter has been used. This is not particularly usual for the documentaries I have watched however does create an impact as it seems to create a type of age feel to the whole documentary when the women shows the photos.

Ideas I want to take from my research

  • Close ups to show emotion
  • Low angle shots to show status of interviewee
  • Unsaturated lighting when a significant story is told
  • A variety of close ups on hand holding, photographs etc
  • Cross cutting shots showing laughing and happiness of the interviewee
  • Carrying out more than one story within the whole documentary (maybe different families from different locations showing the difference in lifestyle)