Recently I have made a docudrama or documentary drama entitled “Druids Pilgrimage.” Druids Pilgrimage is a story about a young girl goes to live with her uncle (Dylan) and aunt (Moira.) She finds out through a series of events that her uncle is a Druid.

The young girl (Gemma) is a goth and is struggling with her own identity and the bullies at school. Through a conversation, Gemma has with her uncle she starts to understand what a Druid is and why he became a Druid. Gemma and Dylan, venture out on a pilgrimage together, to learn the wisdom of the trees and nature.

A Druids Pilgrimage – behind the scenes photographs taken by Ted Rokita.

The Pilgrimage

This pilgrimage allows the long-lost family members to reconnect with each other, the ancient ways and nature. This could be a standalone 25-minute short film.

Every sentence in the drama is factual and well researched from the Ceremony in the opening scene.

DYLAN

Trees of life, of peace, and of wisdom.

Strong in your growth, your leaves shelter us.

We thank you for the fruits you bare and ask you to share your knowledge.

To dispelling myths.

GEMMA

Do you kill goats and virgins?

Dylan looks surprised at Gemma and with a sigh, he shakes his head.

DYLAN

Who fills your head with this nonsense?

Gemma looks at her uncle with sorrowful eyes.

GEMMA

It’s from films I’ve watched…

DYLAN

‘Druidry’ isn’t like it is in movies when we accept it in our lives, it becomes a source of creativity and healing. We have ceremonies and rituals.

To write the script it took one year of research using many different channels from books and talking to actual Druids.

To back up many of the statements in the drama, segments of interviews with actual Druids will be edited in to reinforce the message what the uncle is telling his niece.

Storytelling

A Druids Pilgrimage – behind the scenes photographs taken by Ted Rokita.

I didn’t want to tell a story just through a relentless of interviews, like a normal format of a documentary. But wanted to tell the story where the viewers could relate to something entombed in their consciousness.

For many purist filmmakers, they often think that a docudrama or documentary drama is as a dramatised re-enactments of an actual event. For me, my docudrama is so different from what they may think. The Drama is supporting the facts and adding flavour to the interviews, so the drama is secondary to the documentary.

One definition, three competitors and four conditions

A documentary has a very simple definition: to film actors who interpret their own role in the live conditions. But he is obliged to better specify the conditions that make it a work of art with respect to neighbouring forms.

The supposed truth of documentary is traditionally opposed to the lie of fiction. This favourable prejudice benefits all the more to the documentary that the cinema of big consumer, American in particular, no longer tries to make credible its stories, and deliberately places itself in the field of the imaginary. Playing on identification and writing down its intrigues to the millimetre. 

American cinema takes its spectator by the hand and forces him to think and feel through the rhythm of the documentary editor. Much different is the documentary that is especially worthy of its ability to give the viewer the means to reconstruct reality by itself. I do this in a different way, which is much more subtle. 

A Druids Pilgrimage – behind the scenes photographs taken by Ted Rokita.

Docu-fiction

Documentaries today come in many different forms. First there is docu-fiction Pompeii, or D-Day of this world. The docu-fiction can also be artistic, that is, supported by the eyes of a director. These films are certainly based on an important documentary storyline and are carried by social awareness. However, these films do not meet the necessary definition of documentary, since they are actors who interpret the characters.

You may think my docudrama or documentary drama is a docu-fiction? The actors I choose, live and breathe the life of the subject matter. David Knight who plays Dylan is an actual Druid from the order of “The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.” So became an advisor in the film, making sure the script is real. All those who were interviewed are Druids and not actors playing a role.

Work of Art

I see making a documentary as a work of art. The cinematographer (Andy Rokita) creates the work of art through the lens. Therefore keeps a place for subjectivity (which it shares with fiction) and a place for the seizure of the real.

A Druids Pilgrimage – behind the scenes photographs taken by Ted Rokita. Starring David Knight as Dylan, Emmie Salcedo, and Sam Badman. Directed and Produced by Roland Keates – Camera – Andrew Rokita – A Lost Histories Production

Documentary and truth

It is often tempting to reserve the term “documentary” for films with a minimum willingness to intervene in relation to reality.

The 49 fixed shots of Flagrant Crimes from director Raymond Depardon constitute a summit of sobriety. Depardon’s films are interesting through the open window to the lives of people whose lives we share only briefly. These are films “on”: on an institution, an event, a course. The desire for minimal intervention on reality defines the didactic documentary in the strict sense.

The viewer is neutral, the situation he films unhandled. However, beyond their pedagogical aspect on the judicial functioning, the life of Eskimos, seabed, insects, Renault’s odyssey, the daily life of journalists or emergencies, these documentary films are all the more interesting that they each touch on a universal theme.

Militant documentary

Militant documentary tends to be rejected from the documentary framework because it takes a stand early because the subjectivity is obvious. The films of Chris Marker or Michel Moore confess their eyes oriented on archival images or in the interview device. Even the archives do not guarantee the production of the truth. It is hard to believe that Lanzmann or Ophuls did not know, when they go to question the witnesses of the collaboration of the extermination of the Jews, what they would hear.

In the militant documentary, it is precisely the device that provokes the emotion that gives it its quality of work of art in relation to the report. This is how Fahrenheit 9/11 is considered as a work of art while William Karel’s The World according to Bushis only a good TV report, very poor formally. In the militant documentary, it is the size of the gaze, the height gain with respect to the subject, the interview device, the formal invention that must be taken into account.

A Druids Pilgrimage – behind the scenes photographs taken by Ted Rokita.

Voiceover or Interview

The cinematographer choice of angle and frame, whilst filming adds to its sensitivity, directs the eye and adds meaning. I use voiceover and interviews which adds a pure recording of reality instead of being artificial.

Documentary of Fantasy

One has to be careful whilst making a documentary that it does not become a documentary of fantasy, that captures the truth that arises from this moment.

Truth emerges from the narrative or formal device desired by the director. This is often called Fabulation or magical realism. This type of film borders are blurred between documentary and fiction and invents a new narrative mode to establish a cinema close to the road-movie (Wenders and Cassavetes) or primitive cinema (Lumière, Antoine) were to be on the road was, in itself, an adventure.

This type of documentary lacks subjects who are willing to engage in this way, this style has turned into an autobiographical documentary.  The director himself plays a fictional situation, that of himself returning to a particular moment in his past.

Conclusion

As Jean Louis Comolli pointed out at the 1997 Lussas Festival:

“The question of the true or the false in the cinema is a false debate, it does not take into account the fundamental ambiguity of the representation. The viewer to decide what he wants to believe or not.”

Roland_Keates

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