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Documentary for the Small Screen by Paul Kriwaczek

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Chapter 9

The Shot

If the frames are the atoms of which documentaries, like all films or video productions, are ultimately composed, then the shots are the molecules, irreducible component parts which nonetheless retain some of the characteristic of the whole.

Just as a text is usually made up of many sentences, though in theory it could all be one giant sentence—Friedrich Dürrenmat once published a novel that was all one sentence—so is the documentary composed of many shots, though, in theory, one giant shot could make up the entire work.

In practice, as we have noted, the length of a shot generally reflects the length of the whole film. Average shot length in a thirty-second commercial will be shorter than in a one-hour film. The pacing of ...

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