In Chapter 1, I introduced the thesis that documentaries are products of purposive actions having a specific type of authorially designated effect as their goal. In this chapter and the two following, I expand and refine my case for regarding the filmmaker's intentions and plans as major, but by no means solitary, constraints on the movie's significance. The first orders of business are to spell out what I understand by "intention" and to elaborate on why certain measured assumptions about rationality and intentionality are crucial to a realistic account of how documentaries come to have their meanings.
I shall defend the idea that making a non-fictional motion picture is largely an exercise in practical rationality, that is, reasoning undertaken by somebody in order to resolve such questions as, "What do I do now?" or "How do I achieve X?" One way of building up this thesis is to explain the link between film production and cineastes' often complicated intentions with respect to force and content. Hence I propose to discuss the impact of planning and plans in the creation of cinematic works. By plan," I wish to denote the representational content of an intention.
On this view, an intention to do X consists of a plan for X-ing, along with the appropriate sort of disposition to do X by following that route. Not all plans are incorporated within intentions. One might, for instance, possess an exhaustive plan -- including screenplay, shooting script, budgets, and casting notes ("Get Harvey Keitel as L. W.") -- for a thirteenhour movie adaptation of Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations yet have no inclination to put this plan into action. Moreover, one might have spent many months formulating this scheme without ever being the slightest bit motivated to execute it. But the kind of plans that interest me serve, or could serve, an etiological function in an actual work's emergence, their causal powers deriving from an agent's special, "executive" attitude toward them. I use "planning" to refer to the activity of filling in and modifying the representational content of intentions; it is reasoning
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Publication information: Book title: What Is Non-Fiction Cinema?On the Very Idea of Motion Picture Communication. Contributors: Trevor Ponech - Author. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 98.
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