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Never seen, never heard : The Documentary Filmmaker
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Mar 20th 2006 edited

I would think that the documentary filmmaker is the one that really points out the moments to focus on and that their presence does influence how the characters interact with each other. When the camera is in stealth mode, they get to reveal more of themselves to the audience and possibly see behind the facade, the neuroses and fears, what keeps each character going in life.

While I was listening to the DVD commentary, I believe it was either Greg Daniels or Ken Kwapis (director) that said you can really see the different types of reactions that the characters give off when they know the camera's there and when it's not.

For me, I have 3 favorite DF moments (and for some reason they all include Pam):

  1. In the Hot Girl episode, it's something I'd like to call the moment of impact shot where Pam is talking to Jim about his plans for the weekend, and he says that he's going to see Katy. You can almost pinpoint the exact moment when her face turns from interest to concern.

  2. Same episode as above, when she's putting on lip gloss and then the camera rushes her, she sees it's there and she starts wiping it off.

  3. And finally in the E-mail Surveillance episode, where the camera informs her that Dwight's is eating the candy bar that Angela bought. Her reaction even made me smile.

Well, those are my thoughts. What are your favorite DF moments?

Mar 20th 2006

I really liked when the camera caught Jan letting her feelings for Michael Gary Scott come out at the DM Corporate Elevator on Valentines day. Its always good when someone realises they are on camera after thinking that they weren't.

Mar 20th 2006

I loved seeing Pam's facial expression when Jim walks a group of people upstairs during the tour of his home. Ryan asks him about Katy and Jim mentions that he hasn't seen her in a while. The camera intentionally focuses on Pam's face for a reaction and I loved the one we got. You could see the slightest hint of pleasure on Pam's face.

I like the fact that Pam is a genuinely "nice" woman so she undoubtedly must feel torn where Jim is concerned. She probably really DOES want him to be happy with someone, but another part of her most likely grapples with the whole "if I can't have him then I don't want anyone else to" mentality. We've probably all felt like this about someone at some point in our lives and it's one of the many reasons why I love the JAM dynamic so much. JK & JF's characters experience real emotions that most people can identify with.

Great topic, thanks!

Mar 20th 2006

1) The Fire, Chili's parking lot - Pam almost opens up and reveals something to Jim (feelings?);however, she sees the camera and shys away.

2) Sexual Harrassment, Pam's desk - after Roy leaves Pam's mom says "Which one's Jim". Pam becomes slightly embarrassed knowing that Jim might be able to hear them. I love it when the camera focuses in on Jim. You can see him grin as he's probably thinking to himself, "Pam's told her mom about me".

3) The Fire, "Who Would You Do?" - there are a ton of great camera reactions during these scenes, most notably when the camera focuses in on Pam's reaction to Jim's answer.

Mar 20th 2006

I guess I should tag this a *SPOILER ALERT* so don't read if you don't want to know what's going to happen for the future of this show, but:

I read an article where Greg Daniels talked about how eventually the within the Office universe the documentary is going to be aired, and that he wanted to milk the conceit of the doc for as long as possible, but the change would be happening within the next few episodes.

In the UK Office, the Christmas specials took place after the show had aired on BBC4 (I think it was BBC4), but Tim and Dawn had already parted ways. How would their relationship have altered if they continued to work with each other after a reality program aired showing them having a slow-burning romance going on?

Even more so for the American program, if the documentary is the same as what we see, there is no way that Pam could possible watch it and not see Jim's very obvious feelings for her, and her own restrained feelings for him. The camera crew knows what's up; they zoom in every time there's a JAM moment.

My question, I guess, is how the writers would deal with the documentary being aired. A lot of secrets would be out in the open besides JAM's situation: Oscar's sexuality, Dwangela, Kevin's perved-out nature (though I guess that's not really a secret), etc.

Mar 20th 2006

Mose,

I read an article where Greg Daniels talked about how eventually the within the Office universe the documentary is going to be aired, and that he wanted to milk the conceit of the doc for as long as possible, but the change would be happening within the next few episodes.

I read the same thing too and I also wonder what will happen when that time comes when the conceit ends. It's a very complicated thing to think about because the universe of the show is always running. We are just observers in a day of the life of the Dunder-Mifflin offices in Scranton.

When the show actually airs (in their universe), I would like to think that some of those secrets would already be revealed to everybody in the office.

The secret of JAM being revealed depends on how they interpret those scenes. Will Pam and Jim just remark as just being really good friends or will it finally let one of them garner the courage to say something?

But, I'll bite...I really don't know and honestly don't wanna know.(It's what keeps me coming back for more) Whatever I come up with would probably pale in comparison to what the writers will come up with in the future.

Any more favorite DF scenes?

Mar 20th 2006

In Office Olympics and The Fire (there may be other examples), I love how the DF has figured out the perfect angle to get a shot of both Jim and Pam at the same time.

Mar 20th 2006

Well I know this idea has been brought up before, I am really intrigued by the idea of the documentary crew somehow intervening with the whole JAM situation, i.e., leaving a tape with select footage on it for them to watch. What would you do if you were the DF? It's obvious they're aware of what's going on. Do you sit back and be loyal to your position of "just filming" and not interfering? Or do you step in because you don't want to see two people make a huge mistake?

May 18th 2006

I love when you can infer what they ask the employees and feel their amusement with the characters coming through--asking Dwight about his dream girl, complimenting Michael on his haircut, confronting Creed about his kleptomania (and getting him to swipe something from the vending machine for the camera). Or when it gets more serious, especially with Pam--asking her what she'd do if she had a week to live, or posing a question about Jim after they go over wedding band tapes--trying as innocently as possible to get her thinking about things.

Jun 7th 2006

I read an article where Greg Daniels talked about how eventually the within the Office universe the documentary is going to be aired, and that he wanted to milk the conceit of the doc for as long as possible, but the change would be happening within the next few episodes.

Although I trust Daniels and the writers to make it work if it does happen, I don't like the idea of having the documentary air within the confines of the show. I can't really articulate why, it just doesn't seem right, like it would interfere with the natural flow of events. The only time it makes sense for me would be if it was known when the show was ending for good, then it could be made a major part of the last two or three episodes.

Feb 9th 2007

Apparently, the documentarian has gastro-intestinal problems. Or at least one of the camera operators does.

Feb 9th 2007

That's what I thought!

But, really, did the office really have to stoop to poop humor?

Feb 9th 2007

I love when you can infer what they ask the employees and feel their amusement with the characters coming through

One of my absolute favorite times this occurred was during the Benihana episode, when it seemed they'd asked Jim how his pranking Dwight at the restaurant was any different from Pam's Christmas gift.

Feb 9th 2007

I am really intrigued by the idea of the documentary crew somehow intervening with the whole JAM situation...What would you do if you were the DF? It's obvious they're aware of what's going on. Do you sit back and be loyal to your position of "just filming" and not interfering? Or do you step in because you don't want to see two people make a huge mistake?

With great power comes great responsibility :).

In addition to egging Jim on about Pam (& vice versa) and possibly "selecting" what we're allowed to see, do you think the DF has any loyalties or alliances? Can we say (s)he is unbiased? Especially with Pam, is the DF to her what the vending machine guy is to Jim?

and yes, great topic!

Feb 9th 2007

But, really, did the office really have to stoop to poop humor?

I thought it was funny because Phyllis was all dressed up on her Wedding Day, and Michael comes in to have this serious talk with her. It's just the last thing you would expect. They should've had the camera guy run away when it happened. You still wouldn't know who dunnit, but that would have been fun to see the picture zoom out and retreat through the door.

Feb 9th 2007

I actually had a moment when I thought maybe it was time to break the fourth wall for these guys last night -- when Uncle Al was about to wander into traffic. I think maybe then you should put down the camera and go get him.

Feb 9th 2007

Agreed, DftF. I said in the episode thread that that was a moment that made me very uncomfortable. Didn't like it at all.

Feb 9th 2007

Yeah, my grandpa had dementia. Wandering off into traffic isn't quite so funny.

Feb 9th 2007

when Uncle Al was about to wander into traffic. I think maybe then you should put down the camera and go get him.

So right. Your comment reminded me of that Sam Kinnison (sp?) joke, when he said he couldn't understand why the cameraman in Africa didn't give a sandwich to the kid he was filming for the "Save the Children" commercials. Sometimes art has to suffer for the sake of just doing the right thing.

Feb 9th 2007

Well, Uncle Al did not end up in traffic but rather back at the front of the reception hall. Someone brought him there for Michael to stumble on. We can go back to thinking the best.

Feb 9th 2007

Wasn't there a time on Real World when one of the cast members was hammered and about to drive and the cameramen intervened?

Probably shouldn't admit I know that.

Feb 9th 2007

He probably intervened, because he'd actually have to be on the RV.

How many cameramen are there? Isn't it odd they could spare one to go following Uncle Al?

Feb 9th 2007

I think as time goes by, they seem to be abandoning the realistic feel of a documentary. There's just too many things each episode that don't make documentary sense. It's become more like a TV comedy in that way...

Feb 9th 2007

it was Ruthie the hawaiian chick.

which only proves that the show is losing it's documentarian touch.

Feb 9th 2007 edited

I think as time goes by, they seem to be abandoning the realistic feel of a documentary. There's just too many things each episode that don't make documentary sense. It's become more like a TV comedy in that way...

I agree, and I think it's a big mistake. Little things like not playing by the rules can go a long way toward altering the effect of the episodes. I wonder how many storyline gripes have been augmented, perhaps subconsciously, by a loss of authenticity in the presentation of the storyline--if it looks more like just another TV show, it can be more easily written off as just another instance of Storyline X.

We've had a lot of guest directors this year. I think that could be contributing to this. I think they should stick with people who are more willing and able to honor the conceit.

Aug 25th 2008

If Nathan were a tree, he'd be a pine tree. That's funny.

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