Filmmakers’ “Theories” — Jumping-Off Points

Just to get you started…

Peter Watkins

Watkins established his reputation with two docu-dramas from the 1960s, Culloden and The War Game. Both document events from the past using actors and reconstruction. In asking questions of conventional documentary, Watkins reflects his deep concern with mainstream media, which he has called the ‘monoform’.

Nick Broomfield

Broomfield, like Michael Moore, has developed a participatory, performative mode of documentary filmmaking. Broomfield is an investigative documentarist with a distinctive interview technique which he uses to expose people’s real views. Like Watkins, he keeps the filmmaking presence to a minimum, normally with a crew of no more than three. He describes his films as ‘like a rollercoaster ride. They’re like a diary into the future.’

Michael Moore

Moore, like Broomfield, is a very visible presence in his documentaries, which can thus be described as participatory and performative. His work is highly committed – overtly polemical in taking up a clear point of view, what might be called agit-prop documentary. He justifies his practice in terms of providing ‘balance’ for mainstream media that, in his view, provides false information. Part of Moore’s approach is to use humour, sometimes to lampoon the subject of his work and sometimes to recognise that documentaries need to entertain and hold an audience.