Subject: 4 Ps
Author: Mitchell Block
Date:   8/12/2011 11:00 am EDT
A. You know, sometimes one accepts things a little too uncritically. I used this quote from Professor Block in the earlier edition of the book, and I'm sure its meaning was clear to me at that time. I kept it in this edition, and perhaps I shouldn't have. I can provide a definition for each of the items, but it's clear to me at this point that Block's four Ps (or even my five) don't cover the field.

Clearly Portrait covers biography, whether historical or contemporary, and by extension, should cover many historical documentaries, since they are usually built around the people involved. Performance obviously relates to people doing things, whether giving a performance (musicians, comedians, dancers) or doing something skillful (surgeons, guitar makers, golfers). Place covers travelogues (remember the original meaning of documentary was travelogue)and films that deal with locations and positions. Poetry is a special case of the personal documentary involving artistic use of images and sounds. And I added Process to include the documentary of a unique event with the outcome in doubt.

But that still leaves us with historical documentaries tied to an event -- the BBC three-part "Dunkirk" is a wonderful example -- investigative documentaries, which might fall under Process, but perhaps should not, and behavioral documentaries, where the behavior shown is more important than either the portrait or the process.

And there are probably several more categories that don't really fit into this metaphorical pigeon hole. Hope this answer helps. Thanks for pointing this out. BH 3/17/08

Hi Barry,
Just saw your post.
"Process" was always one of my 4 Ps. "Performance" was a sub heading under Process. Since a Performance is a process. It has a start, middle and end.

So historical shows like "Dunkirk" is about a process and a place.

The evacuation or retreat is the narrative arc. The location "Dunkirk" is a place. As I recall there are no portraits or "characters" in this work.

Any "behavioral" doc would be a portrait..with again some process. The character's behavior over time...

"Investigative" docs are usually "Process" and "Portrait" too.

I believe that ALL docs must be one or more of the "P"s

Mitchell Block

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 4 Ps    
Mitchell Block 8/12/2011 11:00 am EDT
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