Documentaries and Industrials The Difference

Many industrial films masquerade as documentaries or docudramas. They slip into the cinemas or onto television under the billing Young Adventure or Head for the Sky. They purport to be documentaries on nature or flying, but we realize after two minutes that they are really promos for Yosemite or the U.S. Air Force. We enjoy them, and there's not too much harm done. They give the illusion of being documentaries because of the similarity of so many of their techniques—location shooting, real people, natural sound, godlike commentary, and so on—but we know they are a horse of a different breed. The main difference, of course, lies in purpose. The documentary usually has a strong social drive. It wants to inform you, to draw your attention, to awaken your interest so that some social or political problem can be fully understood and perhaps ameliorated. By contrast, the ultimate purpose of an industrial or public relations film is to do a good sales job. Such films want you to buy something, to support something, or to participate in something. They want a very distinct payoff. You cannot receive an industrial film passively. If you do, it's a failure. The film wants you to receive the message and then jump into action. This can mean anything from changing your bank, joining a health club, supporting a charity, or taking up skiing to going to Bermuda for your holiday.

The action is not always immediate; sometimes the film wants to sow an idea for the future. The Canadian National Film Board's The Sky may not send you off to the Rockies immediately, but the image of their beauty and attractions will have been well planted after one screening. The Shell Oil film on historic castles of England doesn't necessarily say "Come this moment," but the groundwork will have been done.

Sponsors for industrial films can come from anywhere. All you need to be a sponsor is to have a message and the money to put it on film. In practice, the main sponsors are industry, business, universities, government agencies, professional organizations, and charities. Each wants to put out a distinct sales message. These films usually group themselves under five or six distinct types:

1. Recruitment and training

2. Promoting a service

3. Demonstrating a product

4. Building an image

5. Teaching and advising

6. Raising funds

Often the categories will overlap; your film may be promoting a wonderful new medical product or machine and, at the same time, illustrating the special system or service under which the product is made available to you once a week.

Film Making

Film Making

If you have ever wanted the secrets to making your own film, here it is: Indy Film Insider Tips And Basics To Film Making. Have you ever wanted to make your own film? Is there a story you want to tell? You might even think that this is impossible. Studios make films, not the little guy. This is probably what you tell yourself. Do you watch films with more than a casual eye? You probably want to know how they were able to get perfect lighting in your favorite scene, or how to write a professional screenplay.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment