Main Task Research: Audience and Institution Identification

The channel in which Joe and I have decided to place our documentary on is Channel 4. After looking into audience and institution, we established that our documentary hits the criteria for channel 4 as it is:

  • Authenticity; the ideas reflect the real world in a way that feels genuine and authentic
  • Freshness; something in the proposal that is genuinely new, it says something about society now and tells a story that has not been told before
  • Innovation; something about the boldness of proposition
  • Compelling storytelling; likely to be gripped by the narratives that unfold in the programme (this would be due to the nature of the documentary)

Due to this, we will need to fit our documentary into a suitable time slot without affecting other programmes (e.g. the news). Due to this, Joe and I have decided to place it within a time slot of 3pm.



Main Task Research: Audience and Institution

Whilst looking into channel 4’s institution, it is clear that there is a variety of criteria that we will have to hit in order to place a documentary on their channel:


It is the job of Channel Four to reflect the contemporary world to British television audiences, and one of the most important ways we do this is through our substantial and multi-award winning documentary output. We commission more than 200 hours of documentaries every year, ranging from major multi-part series like 24 Hours In A & E and First Dates to shorter series and single films.

It is given that we always look for warmth and humour in the ideas that we take forward with independent companies, but other things we look for in documentary proposals and discuss at length with independent companies include:

  1. Authenticity. Do the ideas reflect the real world in a way that feels genuine and authentic? (Diary of A Junior Doctor, 999 What’s Your Emergency, Benefit Street)
  2. Freshness. Is there something in the proposal that is genuinely new, says something about society now and tells a story that has not been told before? (Kids on The Edge, Extremely British Muslims, Secret Life of Prisons, Gun Shop)
  3. Innovation. Is there something about the boldness of proposition or the use of technology that is breaking new ground? (The Trial, Hunted, UKIP First 100 Days)
  4. Compelling storytelling. Are we likely to be gripped by the narratives that unfold in the programme? (24 Hours in Custody, Murder Detectives, Supervet, A&E)
  5. Extraordinary and pleasurable access that feels like a privilege to the Channel 4 viewer (A Very British Hotel, The Mormons, Secret Life of the Zoo)

Not every idea ticks all these boxes, but we do expect a Channel 4 Documentaries commission to be distinctive and eye-catching.


9pm Series

We broadcast a significant number of major 9pm series and this slot is our commissioning priority for 2017/8. We are particularly interested in entertaining ideas with warmth, heart and humour which have enough substance to play at 9pm. Our returning series such as Educating, 24 Hours In A & E and First Datesare very invitational but we’re really keen to develop new ideas with that heart and humour.  They could be constructs (see below).  Or in some cases access based such as Diary of a Junior Doctor. We are particularly keen on returnable series which can go to scale.

9pm series have to say something about the world we live in but that doesn’t mean they have to be gritty in subject matter.

9pm Short Series

For 9pm we also commission a wide range of shorter two to four part series which tend to be director-led. Some are immersive series set in a community at a specific point in time such as The Romanians areComing (during the first year after the law changed), Extremely British Muslims (following the community who pray at Birmingham Central Mosque) and One Man, Three Wives (inside a Mormon community in Utah). Others use privileged, institutional access like Kids on the Edge (the Tavistock), Murder Detectives(Avon and Somerset Police), Bedlam (inside the Maudsley), or Tax Dodgers (Inside HMRC Tax Inspectorate).

8pm series

We have increased our output at 8 pm.  Posh Pawn, The Secret Life of the Zoo and Supervet are established in the schedule and we are keen to develop other ideas. These sometimes (but not always) use a rig. More importantly, they always seek to offer audiences reliable narrative beats in a world that is engaging and relatable for a broad audience.

10pm series

We also commission a number of two or three part series for 10 pm. These are quite likely to be targeted at younger audiences, include edgier or more adult content (than our 9 pm output), and contain scenes that get audiences talking or tweeting. Past series include Women Who Kill, Bouncers, World of Weird. There is also an opportunity for us to be a bit more experimental with form – An Immigrant’s Guide, and a real ambition to grow or commission longer running series like First Dates for 10pm

How can it apply to us?

As Joe and I want to create a documentary, we soon came to the realisation that all successful documentaries are featured on channel 4 between the times of 2-10pm. Typically they are used as hammocked between Come Dine with me and Place in the sun, both family influenced programmes.


Documentary Analysis of Following Heart- The Artist

Whilst the other documentaries I have analysed have been very professional and serious, I have decided to analyse this self-made youtube short documentary. The following heart is based upon an idea that women are able to do what they’re passionate about using the social media of Skype.

So without further ado, here is my short analysis of this documentary:


  • Starts of showing different aspects of a womens face- the dialogue links with the photos here
  • Close ups are used to show the women painting- again linking alongside to the dialogue
  • Mid shot is used in almost every single other shot- this shows the women painting and aims to focus on her hands more than anything
  • Hand held camera is used to show that the documentary suggests relaxation
  • Pans are used when Skype is introduced into the documentary- this allows the audience to see the socialising whilst Lesley is painting her
  • Long shots are used to show location


  • Cuts are used regularly to show the links between the making of the paint to actually painting the photo
  • The pace of cuts vary depending on what Lesley is doing
  • Shot reverse shot is used when painting to Lesley’s emotion to show determination


  • Non diegetic major key music is used for the audience to feel an uplifting emotion when watching the documentary
  • The non-diegetic music is typically piano and guitar
  • Dialogue is used alongside the camera shots to show context
  • The dialogue is done in first and third person- you are allowing to hear Jacks voice of him telling the story.
  • The music tells the story within this documentary- shows whether the documentary is going through a sad moment or a happy moment


  • Location- within the home, covered in arts and crafts which suggests that Lesley Watts is passionate about what she is doing
  • Her clothing is conventional, almost stereotypical as it is bright orange and white, a lot of typical artists dress in colour to show their personalities

What can I take from this?

I particularly like the way in which this short documentary is made almost into a short film, this is one aspect that I would like to withdraw into my final piece as I feel like this is very unconventional but taking that risk has made this so successful and withdraws a huge audience range.

Main Task Research: Documentary Analysis of A Place Like This


The main narrative of ‘A Place Like This’ is a story about a man who was part of the Royal Air force during the war. He was the only member of the seven-man crew to survive the raid on Dortmund. Within this documentary he begins to tell his story of the night and how he survived and how he would like to die.

The representation within this documentary is based upon a man called Alex Jenkins, that is clearly part of a older generations which already draws in an emotional response. He  is mainly talking about his life during the war, his role and how he survived the raid on Dortmund. The documentary talks about how he thinks people should die after he experienced such a horrific thing as the affects are everlasting. This particular documentary is based upon his experiences and the real emotional responses to what the war is really like. This documentary is good as it includes some areas that people would see as taboo, and creates a significant emotional response.

The mise-en-scene within this documentary consists of a variety of slow pan shots creating a calming affect. The way in which Alex is dressed smartly in a blue shirt and black trousers, this is slightly stereotypical as is suggesting age. The setting of the documentary is based in a garden, which juxtaposes the whole theme of the documentary being war- this creates significant affect on the audience as it shows that Alex is not wanting audiences to feel bad for him and his experiences but to connect and admire what you have around you.

The way in which this documentary in terms of camera work is straight away presented with a variety of establishing shots on the garden, again suggesting beauty and colour. The whole documentary is based upon a variety of mid-shots, which is stereotypical with a documentary genre. However, this particular one uses close ups for affect whenever Alex is showing some sort of emotion, whether that be happy or sad, which demonstrates his emotional paralanguage. This works alongside diegetic sound of what theme he is talking about.However, a variety of non diegetic sound is used throughout to when he is telling his story but shots are on his garden. As the location is outside, a variety of sound affects are used, for example; birds chirping and wind.

Main Task Research: Documentary Sub-genres

As Joe and I are trying to create a documentary sub-genre from the opening sequence in our documentary, in order to create a successful and withdrawing opening I will have to do some research. So without further ado, here is my research behind the types of sub-genres.


In terms of our documentary, I would personally like to create a Digital Storytelling sub-genre.A digital storytelling is a short form of digital media production that allows everyday people to share aspects of their life story. The media used may include the digital equivalent of film techniques (full-motion video with sound), stills, audio only, or any of the other forms of non-physical media.

Personally from this, I would like to create a nostalgic and calming opening based on some type of nature and environment that can withdrawn an audience and make them feel positive.

Main Task Research: Sound Analysis

When viewing a documentary, I think that the most important aspect to create a overall feel is the way in which the background music reflects the overall emotional response for it. For example; if the documentary content is happy and he music is in major key, it makes the audience feel uplifted and positive. Or if the documentary is sad and has also been placed within a minor key music style, then the documentary creates a depressive or nostalgic emotional responce.

Here I have looked below at 3 different types of background music within a documentary and have done a short analysis of it in order to see which works best with what.

Documentary 1:  link here

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Short analysis

  • Minor key music
  • Goes along with the dialogue- as soon as the dialogue builds, so does the music.
  • Volume changes- seems to get louder as the dialogue intensifies
  • 2:06 music changes to major key and uplifting
  • instruments used- violin and piano

The emotional response behind this makes the documentary feel a lot more dramatic and like it is targeting you specifically. The more the documentary builds structure, the more the music builds and I personally think this is one aspect that I would like to place within my final documentary.

Documentary 2: click here

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Short analysis

  • The music starts before the dialogue does
  • The music throughout is minor key
  • The main instruments used are piano and violin, again creating a sad and nostalgic feel
  • The music within this documentary is a lot more faded out throughout the short documentary- this makes the dialogue feel a lot more important than the emotional response that they want to create.
  • 3:30 is where the music fades out, onto a deeper, minor key tone. This works particularly well alongside the dialogue as again it creates a emotional response.
  • As soon as the boy stops walking, the music builds up and then fades out

I like the way in which the music is a lot less important within this documentary, however creates a significant affect on the way in which we view the overall message. As in this documentary, the music is minor key, this allows us to straight away almost come down a level in order to understand the problems behind divorce.

Documentary 3: Click here

( this is a more facial documentary as it is about Jack The Ripper)

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Short analysis

  • Music faded in and out throughout the whole documentary
  • Music type switches between major and minor key depending on what is said
  • There is a lot of abrupt endings and building tension.
  • A organ is used, this creates a emotional response and questioning of the viewer.
  • This documentary is slighting different as this is mainly factual, therefore there is a lot more sound affects and cutaways that go alongside the music and dialogue

Whilst this documentary is very facial and isn’t the way I want to go with my documentary, I like the way in which the dialogue again builds the tension of the music. Also I like the way in which the sound affects are used alongside the dialogue, this is one aspect that Joe and I may use in our documentary as it makes the documentary look a lot more facial and less ‘fake’.



Main Task Research: Target Audience Identification

From both research methods that Joe and I have carried out, we have established that our target audience out of the 3 age categories would be youths. This would be the most beneficial due to the juxtaposition in lifestyles that our documentary is aiming to have vs. the lifestyle that youths live today.

Subject areas that would show a contrast between youths and the elderly:

  • Childhood: playing outside, social media, television, education
  • Relationships
  • Primary and secondary socialisation
  • Materialistic items