Class #7 – Ethical Issues

Ethics in documentary is a complicated terrain, with many questions to ask and answer.

We will look at a few clips of filmmakers discussing their approach to ethics, and some of the key considerations to keep in mind. I’ll also discuss a few examples of how I made some ethical decisions in my own work.

Ultimately, there are no set rules, although there are some limits.

You might have followed the rules, but have you asked the right questions?

We will discuss,

  • paying subjects,
  • release forms,
  • relationships with subjects,
  • when to turn the camera on/off,
  • responsibilities towards ‘truth’ and. ‘subjects’,
  • final edit decisions,
  • power and privilege,
  • and more!

Gordon Quinn: Ethics of Documentary Filmmaking

A great essay by Bill Nichols, What to Do About Documentary Distortion? Toward a Code of Ethics

This week’s film, is the controversial film, “The Act of Killing”

The Act of Killing

The Bridge


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