It was a great pleasure to be invited onto the Helen Scott BBC Essex radio show recently, to speak about my role as a documentary maker.
Following Sky TV’s recent launch of the Sky Documentaries channel and a growing selection of documentary programmes available on Netflix, Prime and other streaming platforms, it is becoming clear there is renewed interest in the genre.
Helen and I discussed a number of key reasons why interest in documentary-style content is increasing. Social media forms a prominent part of our existence these days, and so much of the media we consume is delivered exclusively through it. Whether checking the latest news updates or just browsing user content, everything comes in bite-size package. With access to so much content, refreshed so frequently, we naturally compress our attention span to process all that data and information. If we didn’t, or to be more accurate; whenever we don’t, the shear volume of short content becomes overwhelming and becomes difficult to take in.
Documentaries, whether long form programmes or video shorts, offer an entirely different consumption experience in this fast-moving modern era. First and foremost, they are primarily about the story. These days, the documentary format cuts through the regular noise by slowing things down and demanding our attention. The format allows the film maker the time to explore a character, an opinion, a setting and a mood. While media bombards us with sound bites, quick cuts and relatively one-dimensional stories, documentaries paint a bigger picture; one that slows down our thinking a little, and asks more questions of us as viewers. This is ultimately a satisfying intellectual experience and is one of the reasons why younger audiences are now showing interest in longer content.
My interview with Helen is currently available on the BBC sounds app: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08dnkz7 (from 1:31:50)