YouTube = Cinema Verite?

I’ve been using my Netflix to my advantage lately (and I do love Netflix), and I’ve been watching a lot of political documentary film. Over the last few months, I’ve watched Street Fight, Primary, Crisis, The War Room, and I couldn’t help but notice that the style seemed familiar.

Is it me, or do successful YouTube videos (besides the Obama Girl material) rely on the same kind of “organic” technique in directing/editing? I’m definitely thinking so.

This is a description of a style of film called Cinema Verite (seen in Robert Drew‘s Primary and Crisis/seen in most films by D.A. Pennebaker like The War Room and Don’t Look Back), and it seems to sound a lot like the “organic” YouTube videos that we all talk about. It’s from FilmEducation.org:

“Cinéma Vérité was a television-style technique of recording life and people as they really are, using hand-held cameras, natural sound and the minimum of rehearsal and editing.

Cinéma Vérité literally means ‘film truth’ in French and was a style of film making developed by film directors in the 1960s. The film directors of the Cinéma Vérité movement strove for immediacy, spontaneity and authenticity in their films, primarily through the use of portable and unobtrusive equipment, such as small, hand-held cameras and the avoidance of any preconceived narrative line. Cinéma Vérité was characterised by the use of real people, as opposed to actors, in unrehearsed situations. Sets and props were never used and everything was shot on location.”

Sound familiar?

~ by Brad Levinson on August 6, 2007.

3 Responses to “YouTube = Cinema Verite?”

  1. So we’re all copy 1960’s era French film directors? Nice.

  2. well earth is just a reality show for aliens who suck each others jagons. If youve seen Children of Men, one of the most compelling shots in that whole movie was a handheld, one continous shot, where they left the dirt and blood right on the lens until the next shot.

  3. You might want to contrast verite with what used to be called “direct cinema.” There’s a big distintion between having the filmmakers be part of the doc vs. making them invisible (which of course they really are not, which is the critique, since they do affect the environment, then they should not be hidden, or so the ideal goes). I’m not saying one is right or wrong, it’s more about the choice of which way you want to go for your given subject. Anyway, food for thought. The French and American ways had this as one of their major differences…

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