Recently I noticed a preference that I have when it comes to watching documentaries. I enjoy watching documentaries of people who are filming their own lives, instead of having a professional video record it. This type of self-documenting film has been revolutionary for me when it comes to providing a close personal insight into someone’s life. When you hand your subject the camera to record himself for a documentary, you are handing him one powerful role in the process of filmmaking. When a person records himself, he will most likely be the one making the decision of when to turn on the camera and begin recording. Making this decision is substantial to the shape that the documentary will take and will be uniquely what the audience will be seeing during the film.
When I watch a documentary that is filmed by another person who is not the main individual, I am limited to witnessing a lot of things that happen in reality. Meanwhile, when a person is self-documenting, I feel that I am viewing a more intimate perspective of his life. Self-documentaries will contain emotional and personal content that allows us as viewers to sympathize. The fact that a person who we are interested in wants to make their personal situations something public is admirable, but most importantly it makes it extremely credible.
Ravi Patel. This documentary is a great video diary that focuses on the intense search for an Indian bride for Ravi who wants to make his parents proud. Ravi is struggling to find an Indian woman to marry because he is too Americanized to follow the Indian traditional culture of partner matching. As I watched the documentary, a scene of an intense argument between the family that breaks out in the car is shown. However, I thought it was bold when Ravi angrily tells his sister, Geeta to shut the camera off because he does not want to be recorded at that moment. Geeta pretends to turn it off but keeps recording the heated argumentation and I heard one of the most warm-hearted things in the whole documentary. Ravi’s dad with a heavy heart tells him that at the end of the day he can do what he wants because his happiness as a dad was Ravi’s own happiness. If it wasn’t for Geeta’s decision to secretly keep recording during this conversation in the car, we wouldn’t witness such a powerful scene in the documentary. With both siblings being the directors, Ravi most surely agreed on including this scene because it contains a very honest dialogue. This is precisely how credibility is strengthened in self-documentaries. Once I noticed how people self-record their own documentaries, I felt that I was present during moments. It is through personal and intimate moments such as the one I witness in Meet the Patels that the viewer will feel the most sympathy and will create a relationship of credibility with the documentary.