Documentary Media : History, Theory, Practice book cover
2nd Edition

Documentary Media
History, Theory, Practice

ISBN 9781138677562
Published October 13, 2017 by Routledge
364 Pages 89 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In a digital moment where both the democratizing and totalitarian possibilities of media are unprecedented, the need for complex, ethical, and imaginative documentary media—for you, the reader of this book to think, question, and create—is vital. Whether you are an aspiring or seasoned practitioner, an activist or community leader, a student or scholar, or simply a curious audience member, author Broderick Fox opens up documentary media, its changing forms, and diversifying social functions to readers in a manner that is at once rigorous, absorbing, and practical. This new edition updates and further explores the various histories, ideas, and cultural debates that surround and shape documentary practice today. Each chapter engages readers by challenging traditional assumptions, posing critical and creative questions, and offering up innovative historical and contemporary examples. Additionally, each chapter closes with an "Into Practice" section that provides analysis and development exercises and hands-on projects that will assist you in generating a full project prospectus, promotional trailer, and web presence for your own documentary.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 - Reimagining Documentary

Chapter 2 - A Brief History of Documentary: Movements and Modes

Chapter 3 – Content, Rhetoric, Structure

Chapter 4 - Style: Audiovisualizing the Documentary

Chapter 5 - Documentary Ethics: Focusing Your Professional Gaze

Chapter 6 - Capturing Reality: Production Strategies

Chapter 7 - Shaping Reality: The Postproduction Process

Chapter 8 - From Media to Movement: Distribution, Outreach, and Engagement


  • Appendix A - Project 1: Camera-less Documentary
  • Appendix B - Project 2: Exploring Modes of Representation
  • Appendix C - Project 3: Gaining Perspective
  • Appendix D - Project 4: Editing a Teaser and Trailer
  • Appendix E - Project 5: Establishing a Web Presence
  • Appendix F - Exercise: Camera Concepts
  • Appendix G - Exercise: Sound Decisions
  • Appendix H - Quick Reference: Documentary Modes
  • Appendix I - Quick Reference: Sample Forms and Guidelines

  • Appendix J - Quick Reference: Prospectus Checklist and Guidelines
  • Appendix K - Quick Reference: Media Resource List

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Broderick Fox is a media practitioner and scholar whose work explores the democratizing potentials of digital media technologies and distribution platforms, to engage challenging perspectives and subject matters traditionally excised from mainstream media. His award-winning documentaries, including recent titles The Skin I'm In and Zen & the Art of Dying, are available globally on a number of platforms including the academic streaming service Kanopy. Fox is a professor in the Media Arts & Culture Department at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he teaches courses in both theory and production.


With graceful and accessible prose, deep expertise and vivid examples, Broderick Fox has leaped across the divide between film studies and film production courses. Makers of all kinds of audio-visual media will benefit from this clear, historically grounded, critically and ethically informed work. Step by step through the production process, Fox exposes the deeper questions that face anyone trying to say something meaningful about something that really happened.

--Patricia Aufderheide, American University, USA

"Since this book targets the educational market, this extensive listing also supplies the distribution source for each title, a crucial piece of information necessary for educators that many media textbook authors overlook….Rather than following a chronological structure, the book provides historical context for contemporary theory and weaves real-life, up-to-the-minute happenings throughout each chapter. It all feels relevant."

--Cynthia Close, Reality Ink, Documentary Magazine Spring 2018