New media documentary

For this task, you are going to create a three minute documentary about a form of new media or new media technology. This documentary will consist of a direct to camera address as you read through your script and b-roll to help illustrate the story. It should have the look and feel of a professional documentary.

Choosing a topic

First, you need to think of a new form of media or media technology. Here are some ideas to get you started: 3D movies, 3D printing, augmented reality, bitcoin, blogging, click bait, citizen journalism, cloud storage, copyright, creative commons, creative revolution, crowd funding, digital music, DSLR filmmaking, ereaders, exergaming, Facebook, Flickr, gaming, Google Glass, Instagram, internet piracy, LiveJournal, mash up culture, mass surveillance, memes, MMORPGs, Minecraft, moral panics, Oculus Rift, online distribution, online privacy, podcasting, slactivism, smartphones, Spotify, tablet computing, the idea virus, transmedia storytelling, Twitter, video game violence, Vimeo, Vine, virtual reality, vodcasting, wearable computers, wikis, Wikipedia, Wikileaks, YouTube.

Researching your topic

To show an appreciation of the problems and possibilities posed by new media technology, you will need research recent news. Wikipedia is a fantastic starting point for your research but you are encouraged to go beyond these entries and read the references at the bottom of the page.

To find up-to-date information on your selected new media form, consider searching major online newspapers. You can filter your Google search results by particular sites. Use inverted commas to hone your search results by finding particular phrases.

e.g. slacktivism

e.g. “mass surveillance”

e.g. “creative commons”

Here are some questions to consider when researching your selected topic:

• What are the features of this new media technology?
• What are the creative possibilities of the technology?
• How does it change the way we communicate and interact?
• Does this new media technology have implications for the way media texts are created?
• Is this new media technology going to change the way we sell, distribute or consume media texts?
• What does it mean for consumers? Does it change our experience of the media?
• What social, economic and political changes will it cause?
• What are the other implications for society as a whole?
• What positive and negative changes will this form of new media technology bring about?

Writing a script

Write a script for your documentary which considers the impact your chosen form of new media will have on society. Make sure that your script goes beyond knee-jerk, moral panics and explores the impact of new media in a detailed and thoughtful way. Because you are creating a three minute documentary, your script should be about 500 words.

Sample documentary

Topic: Mass Surveillance

How would you feel if the government monitored every text message, email and telephone call? If they kept a record of every website you’ve ever visited and every file you’ve ever downloaded?

Not only does this technology exist but governments around the world – including the United States and Great Britain – are using it to monitor their citizens even if they’ve done nothing wrong.

In 2013, Edward Snowden, a former employee of both the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, leaked thousands of classified documents to the media revealing the extent of the US government’s global surveillance programs.

The documents revealed that the NSA harvests and stores massive amounts of information from around the world – including emails, videos, photos, and social networking information. According to Glen Greenwald, a journalist with The Guardian newspaper who helped to break the story, even low level analysts and contractors within the NSA can access this information without a search warrant.

The NSA can collect information not only about suspects but also anyone associated with them. They’re allowed to collect information on people ‘three hops’ from their target. Given that the average Facebook user has one hundred and ninety friends, this means the NSA can surveil the five million people in their extended network.

Even encrypted data isn’t safe. According to Snowden, the NSA has cracked much of the encryption we use on a day-to-day basis and it’s permitted to store all enciphered communication until it can be cracked even if you haven’t committed a crime.

The NSA has also developed the technology to record every single telephone call in a foreign country and store that information for thirty days. Although the program, codenamed MYSTIC, was initially used to monitor a single country, there are reports that the government is expanding its reach.

Big Brother is watching you.

But what if mass surveillance is actually a good thing? After all, it’s only the criminals and terrorists who have something to worry about, right? Not exactly. Everyone has personal or sensitive information they would prefer to keep private. If governments harvest and store this information, it can potentially be abused by politicians, law enforcement, government employees or even hackers.

So…what can we do about mass surveillance? Encrypt your communication. Lobby politicians about the importance of civil rights and privacy. We spend more time online than ever before. The internet is an important and integral part of our lives. Surely, the civil rights and privacy we expect in the real world should extend to the digital realm as well.

Footnotes and bibliography

Your script must include footnotes and a bibliography. It is necessary to use a citation every time you use a direct quotation or explain an idea that you’ve read about somewhere else.

To reference a website, visit Son of Citation Machine. Click on Turbian and click on ‘Web Document’. Type in the details of the website you have accessed and press ‘Make Citation’.

If you want to generate the citation for a book or DVD, visit WorldCat, search for the title of the book or DVD and visit that page. At the top of the page, click on ‘Cite/Export’. Select ‘Turbian’ and copy the relevant citation. When you are citing a book, make sure you also add the page number at the end.

The first time you cite something in your report, you will include a full citation. Every time you subsequently reference the same text, you simply write ibid and the page number. If you want to cite something you’ve used earlier, use op. cit. and the page number.

1 Benchley, Peter, et al. Jaws. Universal City, CA: Universal, 2000.
2 ibid.
3 ibid.
4 Gottlieb, Carl. The Jaws Log. New York: Newmarket Press, 2001.
5 ibid.
6 Benchley, op. cit.

Your bibliography is an alphabetical list of references by author surname.

Example citations

Website: Nastasi, Alison. “Rare, Behind-the-Scenes Photos from the Making of ‘Jaws’.” Flavorwire. (accessed August 28, 2013).

Book: Gottlieb, Carl. The Jaws Log. New York: Newmarket Press, 2001.

DVD: Benchley, Peter, et al. Jaws. Universal City, CA: Universal, 2000.

Rehearsing your script

Before filming your script, it is important to rehearse. Running through the script several times will allow you to become more familiar with the subject matter and means you will make fewer mistakes. As you read, listen for lines that are awkward or difficult to say and rephrase them.


In television news and documentary, a ‘stand up’ is when the reporter or filmmaker appears on screen directly addressing the camera. These often appear at the beginning and end of a news report. Your documentary will consist largely of this type of address. Because three minutes of a talking head would be boring, you will cut away to b-roll footage to help illustrate the story. When filming your stand-up, you need to think carefully about your use of framing, lighting and sound.

Shooting b-roll

Spend some time thinking about the type of footage that will illustrate your story. For the short documentary on mass surveillance, I made a list of forty shots that would help me to illustrate the idea of mass surveillance and give the audience something engaging to look at.

When thinking about shots for your b-roll, think of footage that is related to your subject.

Composition. Use rule of thirds. Put thought into what appears in the foreground and background of your shot. Try to compose your shots in a visually pleasing manner.
• Colour. Try including something in your shot that is vibrant or colourful.
Pull focus. A pull focus can create visual interest in a static shot that might otherwise be boring.
Depth of field. If you’re shooting on a DSLR, consider using shallow depth of field. This can be achieved by setting the aperture to its lowest setting, such as f1.8.
• Camera movement. Using a tripod, slider or dolly to make your b-roll footage look more dynamic.

Vox pops

When you’re creating your documentary, you might considering including vox pops, short interviews with members of the general public expressing their opinion on an issue. When you are conducting

Approaching the interview subject. When you approach an interview subject, make sure that you introduce yourself and briefly explain the nature of your project, including where it might be screened. Many people are intimidated by cameras and you might find that you receive quite a few rejections before someone volunteers!

Composition. Before you start recording, frame up your interview subject using rule of thirds and ensure that they have adequate headroom and look room.

Lighting. Make sure that your subject is not backlit. If they are, request that they stand in better light.

Sound. If you’re using the onboard microphone on your camera, make sure that you get the camera as close to the interview subject as you can. Do your best to move away from ambient noise. If possible, use a shotgun microphone to limit the ambient noise and emphasise the voice of your subject.

Phrasing your question. Make sure you ask open ended questions. Closed questions, such as “Is technology a good thing?”, will only elicit brief responses. An open ended question, on the other hand, will invite greater detail, for example, “How do you feel about new technology?” Don’t be afraid to coach your interview subject so they answer in complete sentences. Ask them to start off with a complete sentence, e.g. “I think new technology is fantastic.” If your interview subjects answer in complete sentences, then it will be easier to edit their responses together.


The following rubric will be used to assess your new media documentary.

New Media Rubric