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Strong souls, gentle spirits

By Patricia Iris Maureen Caffin

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The documentary Strong Souls, Gentle Spirits is a film that combines the aspects of truthful documentary filmmaking but also incorporates filmmaking techniques and the filmmaker's involvement common to traditional narrative films. The main theme of the documentary centers on overcoming obstacles in life and the second theme, human-animal bonds/relations, explores the impact service dogs have in this process. Under the arc of these two themes, the uniqueness of five subjects is illustrated. To combine the aspects of truthful documentary as well as the techniques and involvement of traditional narrative films, the preproduction phase was mainly planned and executed in a traditional narrative film manner; methodical and premeditated. This included research for potential documentary candidates, formulated questions, a planned story line and shot-list. The production phase was a combination of truthful documentary and narrative filmmaking. As an ode to Cinéma Vérité only the bare minimum in equipment was brought and the documentary subjects were filmed in their natural environment as an observer. In addition, the narrative filmmaking aspect in production was addressed by executing the shot-list and pre-formulated interview questions to answer to the cinematic images and story line I had in mind. Furthermore, Strong Souls, Gentle Spirits started out with the intent of covering five documentary subjects and a lead-character in a feature length 1-hour documentary. During production and especially at the start of post-production, I recognized that, in order to avoid superficiality, each subject's story had to be addressed as an individual story to accomplish full character development and to reach the depth needed to convey his or her journey in a justified manner. Therefore, the better plan was to change the project into a 20- minute stand-alone documentary, covering only one subject and the lead-character, and design it as a pilot for a series for which 5 episodes are already shot.


Katie Carroll

Date 2011
Pages 92
Publisher San Diego State University
Department Television, Film, and New Media Production
Degree Master of Arts
Language English
University San Diego State University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Cats
  4. Communication
  5. Documentation
  6. Dogs
  7. Films
  8. Human-animal bond
  9. Mammals
  10. Media
  11. Pet ownership
  12. Pets and companion animals
  13. video recordings