How not to shoot an elephant

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The Independent Culture
I blame the camcorder. Since its invention, companies with one eye on the budget and the other on "access" have allowed camera-work standards to fall through the floor in the name of community programming. This is just about acceptable when the subject is a glum anorexic keeping a video diary on the contents of her fridge. That's voyeurism. That's interesting. Almost. The problem starts when this point-and-shoot philosophy is aimed at a larger event. Traditionally, documentary footage was always snapped by a director, a cameraman, a sound man, a lighting man and a man holding several yards of cable. Mrs Thatcher abhorred this approach; in her eyes it was sheer Spanish practice. Never mind that it guaranteed watchable footage of well-lit, audible people. Today, anyone doing anything unusual need take little more than a camcorder along and the result will be broadcast. When people used to do this on Super 8 it was called "home movies'. Now it's prime-time television.

Anyway. Fifteen members of the Royal Ballet went to Kenya, picked up a local camera crew, did a bit of ballet and saved a few elephants (The Elephant Ballet, 9pm C4). They had a nice time, the dancing is charming and it is fascinating to watch these curious, childlike people learning to appreciate an alien culture. The Kenyans seemed to enjoy it too. It's not a bad programme. It just looks terrible.

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