A paradigm shift for the science documentary
Kustusch, Christopher Michael.
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The science documentary exists within a very specific cultural space. It is not only separate from conventional fictional entertainment but it is also separate from the mainstream, or social documentary, tradition. The cross-blending of genres and the borrowing of technique and style from current "modern documentaries" should lead to a radical reinvention of the paradigm (i.e., a paradigm shift) of the science/natural history documentary. This essay will focus on three main areas of discussion: the rise of the modern documentary, a discussion exploring the characteristics of the current paradigm of traditional science films, and a survey of those projects that move towards a hybrid of science and entertainment. In looking at these films, we will consider my thesis film, Oil Eye for the Average Guy, (2007), which attempts to construct the new science documentary paradigm by using "social documentary" techniques to reach a larger audience.