Discuss The Ethics Of ‘Reality’ In The Documentary Form

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Documentaries is a term that we use to describe a non-fiction film that is supposed to document and capture reality. Ethics is the term we give to the system of moral principles, ethics is supposed to affect how we are supposed to live our lives and what kind of decisions we should be making. The term itself is something we take from the greeks, the word is ethos which can translate into meaning habit, custom, character or disposition. Ethics is something that is always concerned with what is positive and good for the individuals and societies and it can also be described as moral philosophy.

When making documentaries every filmmaker has a moral-ethical responsibility to anyone who may be featured in the film or any subjects that the film may be based on. The filmmaker has an ethical responsibility to not allow any sort of harm to come to their subjects, this may mean harm that can be shown within the film or harm that may come after the film. In the subject of documentary filmmaking and ethics, we need to focus on filmmakers relationships and how this may relate to the different concepts of morality and ethics in documentary filmmaking. Another thing we need to think about is the circumstances and the reality that the documentary is showing something important and the fact that the filmmaker has the responsibility to show content shows viewers meaningful solutions to moral issues. However, there are instances where filmmakers fail to act on ethical theories that should give them an idea of what the right thing to do what. When dealing with documentaries filmmakers should be aware and know that the film is supposed to show real life events. Some filmmakers that make documentaries want to show real people in real situations doing what they normally do, however there are many different documentaries that get made that use actors and different reenactments because they want the viewers to see these scenes recreated so they can understand the story more.

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Unlike other films, documentary films are basically shaped and moulded during the editing process, which is the opposite of fiction films, sometimes what happens is that the theme of the documentary is not determined until the start of the editing process and then this is where a set storyline is determined. The process of editing a documentary is usually when a film is laid out in the final form for the viewers to see. When doing the editing of a documentary the editor and filmmaker, alongside other postproduction crew members that are involved in the film making, make decisions on how to make the film into a story that can be retold and serve justice to the events on screen. It is actually impossible to film every single moment of any one subject’s life or even every moment of an event or incident during the filming process phase of any documentary. It is much harder to try to use every frame of the footage that is shot on camera. 


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