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Documentaries are important in film because they can tell stories. Their stories, however, are real. There are a few different purposes filmmakers can have for creating a documentary. In the categorical form of documentary, the filmmaker is trying to convey a lot of information, so they would categorize that information so it is simpler for the viewer to take in. In rhetorical form, the filmmaker is trying to persuade the viewer to think a certain way.
For example, in Twenty Feet from Stardom, the goal was to persuade the audience to see the importance of backup singers. It is not formed into an argument, however. It is simply implied through the stories told by the artists. While, they are merely singing behind the “star,” they are really bringing a new light to the stage through their voice, style, and emotion. Many of them are truly stars in their own right, which was made clear by the films emphasis on their vocal abilities and stage presence. There was definitely repetition in the film. The creators utilized major musicians including Bon Jovi, Sting, Stevie Wonder, and many others to provide credibility in the message that backup singers are more than just the backup. There was variety in that it focused on multiple artists and did not spend too much time on one artist for more than a few minutes at a time.
The overall pattern of the film began by introducing us to each of the artists first. We got to meet them individually and learn about how they got started in the industry. Then we learned a bit of information about their highest point in the industry while also hearing their struggles (such as having to work as a cleaning lady to get by) before their fall back into the background. The singers this film focused on changed the role of backup singers from singing just “oohs” and “aahs” to singing the hooks to multiple songs on major records and completely changing the sound of some major musicians’ works.
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