Continuum: The Australian Journal of Media & Culture
Vol. 5, No. 1, 1991
Edited by Alec McHoul

Ways of speaking: the relation of talk and discourse on a documentary film site

Carolyn D. Baker

Introduction: documentary subjects

In this paper I study an instance of an on-location documentary filming sequence in which a filming crew, an interviewer, and three school students collaboratively produce the visual and verbal elements of a story about the work of, and the need for, a year patron in their school. My interests are primarily in connections across (i) the "socio-logic" of the filming work, 1 (ii) the kinds of literate practices that participation in such an event occasions, and (iii) the ways that the students in particular enter into and 'document' their selection as film subjects.

The materials used here are selections from videotapes of the unedited film footage of visual, activity and 'conversational' scenes which were shot on location at a secondary school. These videotapes are a complete sequential record of that part of the work of the filming crew that is captured through the lens of the camera and the audiotrack that accompanies filming. Thus they give unique access to the reasoning practices that are used in creating scenes that may later be edited into the final film text. They are also a record of how the documentary film subjects play their parts in producing informational texts about their life and work. Thus, they are material for the study of the intersection of the routine professional work of a film crew and of the non-routine work of once-only, 'real life' film subjects. The analysis of this intersection provides for an explication of Jayyusi's proposal that

...the sense and meaning of shots and sequences in a film narrative is neither reflected nor dislocated from the 'order' and logic of everyday life and the natural world. Rather, it is refracted against it. 2

What I focus on most centrally in this analysis is the socio-logical work that goes into the local scenic production of subjects for the documentary film. These 'subjects' are already inscribed into the filming script: arrays and displays of complementary speaking/doing positions are presketched. These are then enacted in the course of filming. Each such segment of filming is therefore governed at least remotely by a 'metanarrative' (the overall story/news/information to be told) whose ultimate shape and telling is in the hands of the producers. The final film product is made up of selections from separately filmed sequences that have been pre-scripted or otherwise pre-arranged as potential parts of the main documentary line/theme that will be (re)constructed at editing stage. In each individual filming sequence, participants are engaged in producing a 'little narrative' - an enactment of some specific component of the documentary theme or thesis - for possible inclusion in the final film text. Thus the organised work of walking, talking, and looking for the camera, as I will show, is practice with a media literacy: making texts that can be read unproblematically by the eventual viewing audience.

The little narrative enacted in the sequence to be analysed turns on the intensive work that is done with membership categories. 3 This involves the establishment of categorical incumbencies (e.g. [year seven students], [year patron]). It involves also the securing of "transitivity" across the three student speakers - their equivalence and their complementarity as members of the category [year seven students]. Finally this work involves the enactment of a "trajectory" of talk involving categorical incumbencies and associated activities - in this case from [year six students] to [year seven students] through [year patron] to [year seven problems] to [help with year seven problems]. These notions of transitivity and trajectory are adapted from Jayyusi's study of categorisation and moral ordering, and applied to this case in which the transitivity across speakers and the trajectory of the talk are to a large extent pre-scripted. 4 This pre-scription still has to be filled (out) in the local organisation of filming.

Little narratives

The documentary film is designed to inform about an institution, its members, and their activities and practices. Each of its little narratives constitutes the film subjects as members of documentary-relevant categories. These are for the most part mundane institutional categorisations, e.g. [year seven students], [principal], [year patron]. Thus a second order of socio-logical practice enters into the film-making work. Participation in the making of the documentary is precisely to document category-specific knowledges and ways of speaking that are written into the scene-sketches and which are the warrant for the film subjects being involved at all. Despite the extraordinary ordinariness of these scenes, their 'so-whatness', they provide a close-up of the work of artfully imitating life. Selected speakers need to fill out the substance of their category-incumbency in ways that match (and 'prove') the logic of their selection and inclusion. In part, this is a moral logic, which involves speaking 'subjectly', that is as members of the category to which they are assigned and thus as exemplars of the discourse that the documentary film will produce. This is what the film crew, with the assistance of interviewers, needs to secure.

My analysis will attend to how these film subjects are assembled, and how in the simulation of speaking 'naturally', 5 they assist in assembling themselves and each other as (equivalent/complementary) members of an institutional category. This establishment of transitivity across putative members of a category, and the working of this transitivity into a socio-logical trajectory from (moral) premise to (moral) conclusion, constitutes the work of the film crew and the film subjects. It is an example of the work done by questioners and answerers in other contexts to ground/foreshadow and then prove (or disprove) some attribution. 6 In the case studied here, as with work on other witness stands, members can tell where the talk could be heading and can use this knowledge (or suspicion) as a resource in designing their talk. And as on other witness stands, the argument from premise to conclusion is not always strictly linear. There can be incomplete foreshadowings and surprise back-tracks that help to secure the main point(s) of the questioners. Unlike talk on many other witness stands, however, the student speakers here already know the gist of the trajectory.

Creating subjects

Securing category membership

The talk and activity sequences to be analysed here are preceded on the videotape by over five minutes of filming of visual scenes in which groups of students are walking this way and that along various wooded pathways presumably on the school grounds. One sequence includes a few seconds' filming of a long shot of a teacher (who will turn out to be Mrs Simmons, introduced in the transcript) talking to students in this outdoor setting. During the filming of these visuals, twice the camera follows, and achieves closer shots of, the three students who will be speaking in the interview to follow, as they walk along in a group of five, looking purposeful. Members of the film crew make a few comments during the shooting of these visual scenes, including a reference to "faces" when the three are being filmed. This filming of people walking, and of Mrs Simmons talking to students, therefore seems to be informed by the interview text to be enacted later. This accounts for the expenditure of time and effort given to filming what on first viewing appeared to be merely students walking to or from class. The long shots and the relative close-ups of the three who were pre-selected to speak, shots which are taken along with many other shots of many other students walking, prefaces their special status as exemplary speakers within the logic of the film-making. However, within the logic of an eventual film text, their walking (together) looks very much like anyone else's walking (together), and they are thus shown to be members of a multitudinous category of [students]. It is as if they are any three students from the multitude that walks.

Thus on the videotape so far (which is a record of the practical reasoning and activity of the film-makers) their transitivity in relation to all other students is witnessed and thus the trajectory of their categorical incumbency - as constructed by the filming crew - is begun before they begin to speak. This visual filming could later be edited in to show that they are any members of the institutional category that is the source and focus of the information to be constructed. Their categorisation as [students] could thus be made "glance-available". 7 What is yet unavailable is what subset of [students] they might be, and what they have to say. The camera cuts from these visuals to a close-up view of the clapboard which is positioned in front of Martin's face.

Achieving Transitivity

The videotape shows eventually that the three students are lined up in a row with Andrew to the left, Dominique in the middle and Martin to the right, all facing the interviewer. Their physical arrangement is a sign of the collection practice that will occur in the talk through the distribution of turns. The interviewer begins each turn by addressing the speaker by name ("Martin", "Dominique", "Andrew") in such a way that one hears 'you first' then 'you second': effectively the local production of a list of speaker + information packages. This turn-making is more than distributory justice. For the eventual film text, and for the local production of relations among these speakers, it is part of the practice of achieving the same categorical incumbency for each participant: [year seven students] and thus it launches the on-site production of transitivity across speakers: each is an exemplary instance of the category they represent; each speech will be an instance of how [year seven students] talk about their categorical incumbency. This talk is done with foresight to where the sequence is heading: as indicated before, the students will have been briefed about gist of the talk - an outline of the trajectory to be enacted in these conversational sequences - to be done prior to the commencement of the filming.

The interviewer begins by asking Martin what he previously thought high school would be like. (In the transcripts to follow, V indicates the voice of some member of the filming crew, unseen on the videotape).

V: Roll record?

V: Rolling

V: Slate one two three. Roll fifty-four ((click))

V: Set ((slate pulled away))

V: Action ((camera on Martin's face and stays there over the course of Martin's talk. Martin stares at Interviewer (Ian) while speaking, smiling slightly))

I: Martin when you were in primary school last year, what did you think high school was going to be like?

M: Frightening, ((Martin glances down briefly at 'frightening', then looks up again)) um, 'cause a lot of, um other kids in all the higher years they all told you that they were going to do all drastic things to you all the time and that 'n

I: What sort of drastic things?

M: They flush your head down the toilet.

I: What else?

M: An' bash you up all the time all the Year 10's an' that 'n?

This sequence achieves more than non-news in the form of a trite piece of folklore about the possible gullibility of incoming high school students. It is the beginning of the work of displaying conversationally 'who' these speakers are and how they are to be heard in the film text. The force of this talk which includes the production of facts about the school world, is practice in the production and self-production of moral subjects for the 'problems' discourse that is to be developed in the sequence. Martin's suggestion of "drastic things" hands to the interviewer an opening to pursue it, to have the lore come out: "what sort of drastic things?". This questioning supplies a new (earlier) beginning to the trajectory of incumbency that this interview is creating.

The sequence continues with a question to Dominique:

I: Dominique, ((camera moves to close-up of Dominique, who is standing to the right of Martin)) what, what about, what sort of, what did you think high school would be like?

D: ((glances to right and then left as she begins, then at I)) Oh, I thought it'd be better because I had an older brother here and he told me, um, what, they did what subjects and I was really looking forward to them 'cause primary school was getting a bit boring. With the same subjects.

Dominique's description incorporates an acknowledgement that her prior knowledge about what high school would be like ("better") was available to her via the insider knowledge of a brother at the school. Her description of what she 'used to think' stands in contrast with, and as an alternative to, Martin's. But her reference to her brother can be heard as an account of Martin's more negative if not naive view. So, although Dominique's answer is different, her participation as the second exemplar in the same membership category is secured. In achieving a relation between her response and Martin's she is helping to construct the transitivity that is central to the logic of this filming sequence.

The interviewer then addresses the third speaker, Andrew, asking him to describe 'worries' that students have about high school while still in primary school. Andrew does so most helpfully, but also builds in an acknowledgement of the fallibility of this [year six knowledge]:

I: Andrew, ((camera moves across, showing Dominique glancing to her right)) are there things that, ((at this point the camera is on Andrew's face)) students when they're in primary school worry about about high school?

A: Oh, mainly about people, like, people come up and tell them all the things they think that are dreadful and they get really worried about it like? like Martin said, like flushing your head down the toilet and Year 10's bashing you up or throwing you around but, they're not really that bad here at this school. They might be at other schools, I don't know, but not this school.

I: So those sorts of things are just rumours, but they don't really happen.

A: Yeah, they're just rumours. ((smiles))

A central move in this opening sequence, essential to the socio-logic of the narrative, is the switch from questions to Martin (qua Martin) and Dominique (qua Dominique) personally, to asking Andrew to talk about [students as a category]. This advances the trajectory by one step and is picked up by Andrew when he incorporates Martin's comment into his reply, using it as a case-in-point of how [year six students] could (fallibly) think. Andrew uses Martin's comment to regulate his own, (similarly Dominique accounted for Martin's) and in this replicates the interviewer's sequential collection of their comments as comments of [year seven students], and as representative subjects of the narrative. This might be viewed as the beginning of their establishment of a "morally self-organised collectivity", and of a "transitivity across all individual members of the collectivity" in this case including those for whom they speak. 8

Advancing the trajectory

Even though the upshot of this talk so far is that there wasn't anything, really, to worry about on coming to high school, they are nevertheless filling out the interviewer's category of [former year six students] and their activity - [who used to think and possibly worry about high school]. It could be further proposed and defended that it does not matter substantively what thoughts and worries they (or others) had or did not have. These are effectively straw 'people who used to think', as against 'people who now know' and who can comment competently within the current narrative. It matters only discursively that the topic was raised. [Thoughts and worries about high school] is only the first step in a sequence of question-topics that guide the trajectory. There is no notable pause between the completion of the [thoughts and worries] round and the beginning of the next question-topic:

I: ((camera stays on Andrew listening to question)) Is there someone at the school, who helps Year seven students to uh, adjust to year seven?

M: Yeah [Mrs Simmons

A: [Mrs Simmons

I: Martin? ((camera moves across the three to Martin's face)) D'you want to, [tell us what she does?

V: [(: set) down

M: ((looks intently at interviewer)) Like if you're having a problem with the subject or something, she'll go and see the teacher and, um, to, um, like to give him help with the subject, help to explain it more to you or something like that?

I: Why does Mrs Simmons do this?

M: Oh, 'cause she's the year seven pa tron, an'

I: And what do patrons do?

M: They look after the year that they're, patron of.

In achieving the deft but locally unproblematic topic-shift from [year six worries] to the work of the year patron, the premise that [help with adjustment] is needed stands, despite the substance of the preceding sequence dismissing year six rumours. As suggested above, the specific information seems to matter less than the exercise of answering the question, participating in the discourse that presupposes certain possibilities for the central category [year seven students]. The trajectory of the categorical incumbency of the three speakers is advanced and re-oriented through this topic-shift. The new question occasions a new speaking position to be taken, one which recognises the preliminary force of the preceding round of questions, and foreshadows the questioning to come. This turns on the introduction of and high-redundancy talk about a new category [year seven patron] who [helps/looks after students]. In this instance, the solution (Mrs Simmons) was introduced prior to the explication of the problems to which she and her work are a solution.

Saturating the categories

Martin carries the initial talk, having been the one who was first in nominating Mrs Simmons, and fills out the premise about [help with adjustment] by talking about a possible problem . The transitivity - now to be centred on the identification of [problems] - is maintained through the subsequent addressing of Dominique and Andrew in turn, but without repeating the question. The listing has become an integral part of the scene.

I: Dominique?

D: Um, ((camera moves to Dominique)) she helps girls if they have any problems and, um, she, if you, if a teacher's not being very fair, um she can go and speak to the teacher?

I: What sort of problems would she help girls with ?

D: Oh, if some girls were tea sing other girls or, uh I-don't-know they, ((shakes head)) just girls' problems? ((smiles))

Dominque has grasped the moral trajectory involved in introducing Mrs Simmons, in her addition to the list of [problems] whose production supports the rationale for the work of Mrs Simmons. Such [problems] are a necessary part of the socio-logic of the [year patron] discourse. Dominque supplies a new sub-category for the discourse ([girls' problems]) which hands the interviewer the opportunity to ask her to answer again the question she has already answered. Dominique, as exemplary subject of the narrative by being an expert practitioner of its socio-logic, does not miss a beat in this deck-shuffling. The third-listed Andrew finds a solution to the problem of what else to add by complementing Dominique's nomination of [girls' problems] with a reference to boys:

I: Andrew? ((Dominique looks toward Andrew))

A: ((camera on Andrew)) Oh, like um, some teachers pick on boys? 'Cause they, they think they're bad 'n they, an' they make them stand up 'cause they swing on chairs? Like I have a, um one of my friends in our class he, he was, had, he would have had to stand up if we had that teacher for the whole year, because he swang on his chair once. An' I told Mrs Simmons and he had, he got, he got to sit down, but, an' there's some other teachers are like that like, Mis- Mister Cook one of the maths teachers? he's, he picks on people? 'cause they don't do homework an' that.

I: And does Mrs Simmons help . in those kinds of [things

A: [Ye:es. She d- she um, she sees the teacher and finds out what, what the problem is and tries to sorts it out with the teacher, and the child

V: Stop at that plane ((Andrew looks up))

V: 'Kay stop tape

((filming stops at this point))

Getting the discourse right

The socio-logic of this documentary sequence relies on securing the transitivity of the three student speakers, i.e. that each is an exemplar of the category [year seven student] who can produce the required kind of talk about the year patron's work. This requirement intersects with one for the audio-visual perfection of scenes in which the talk is done. The intervention by the camera crew at this point in the filming is accounted for on the set with reference to a plane flying overhead. There is a break in filming, then the interviewer resumes the enacted conversation in the next slate by re-addressing Andrew with a question about "sorts of things" a year patron can help with.

V: Roll record

V: Rolling

V: Slate [th

V: [rolling

V: Slate three ten

V: S-

V: Set

V: Action

I: Andrew, what sorts of, of things, can the year patron help students with.

A: Oh with, um, prob- personal problems like, kids really gettin' in trouble with teachers all the time 'n, like if- they might get, they might not do something but they they've been known to do it? and, and she goes off, and one of the teachers might go angry at that child for doing it an' they go no an' they say no I didn't an' ( ) then that teacher just says, yes-you-did!, they put you on a detention or something, (an' it, an' it) might be a week detention you haven't done anything wrong . It's not (that) so it's unfair. She sorts that out too.

I: What sort of per sonal problems would students have that they might talk to, Mrs Simmons about?

A: About problems with um, getting on w- kids at school 'n, kids always picking on them an' they're not having a real good time at the school? they might go see her an', she try an' sort it out would talk to the kids that are picking on them. Or su- something like that.

In this sequence, the interviewer's second question sounds like a follow-up to his first, (first "sorts of things" that year patrons can help with, then [personal problems]). It can be seen, however, that Andrew began his first speech with a reference to "personal problems" which he is apparently hearing as inclusive of personal problems with teachers. Although he is not now naming teachers in the retake, he is still describing what he has witnessed of highly unfair teachers. Further, it seems that his talk about what he has witnessed has been modified from what did happen to what might happen in class, although he does not sustain the conditional in his use of indirect speech to convey a hypothetical charge-rebuttal sequence.

It seems this is not the same domain of [personal problems] that the interviewer has in mind, for which there is further evidence given below. The interviewer has more success with the other two students in achieving the production of the correct discourse:

I: ((camera on Andrew)) Um- do year seven students really need someone on the staff who, can help them in these sort of ways?

[((camera pans to Dominique))

[((Andrew continues looking ahead at I))]

D: [Oh I think so because] um, i- if they had nobody to go to then, oh some, um , the year patrons I think are especially picked because of their nice personality an' they, um, are nice and they can help the children but if, um, they had no year patrons the students would be too um, scared to go up to another teacher an' um, ask her for them for help.

Dominque has no problem in filling out the abstract need for year patrons, and therefore in adopting the speaking position which appears to be required for participation in this discourse. She even embroiders upon the talk-so-far about the helpful Mrs Simmons by suggesting selection criteria for the year patrons: "because of their nice personality". The moral logic of the need for year patrons, and a reading of the moral trajectory of the interviewer's questions, is also contributed by Martin who stitches in an item from the first sequence about students' fears about high school:

I: ((camera pans to Martin)) Martin do you think it's important to have someone, looking after year seven in this way?

M: Yes 'cause um when the year seven students first come to this school like they're, real sca red 'cause like the kids always tell then what's gonna happen? and sometimes they like they need someone to talk to an' that 'n

I: What sort of things do you think students would talk to Mrs Simmons about.

M: ((looks up briefly)) About um like when you first come year tens an' that always come around and scare you all the time 'n that? 'an like some, kids like they need to talk to somebody about it, so an' then Mrs Simmons will go an' see the kid or something 'cause like they're only mucking around but they scare the kids? y'know?

This retrieval of an item previously introduced and then dropped can be accounted for not at all in terms of failure to find the categorical logic underlying questioning in classrooms 9 but precisely as a grasp of the possible point of the preliminary questioning within the current trajectory. The circularity of the questioning requires that these informants keep filling out, adding to, and even repeating their previous comments. This is over and above the technical necessities for re-takes, about which they would have been briefed. Another point is that Dominique and Martin at least are producing hypothetical scenario-sketches that match the interviewer's often-signalled interest in "sorts of things", and "sorts of problems". None of them so far, however, appears able to produce a match to his elusive sub-category of [personal problems].

I: And what about personal problems?

M: ((glances away and down for 3.0)) Um, (glances down for 3.0)) oh ((shaking head))I'm not sure about that.

I: You ca- do you know of many students who've gone to talk to Mrs Simmons about, problems that've cropped up?

M: No ((shaking head)).

I: Alright. Thanks. That's the lot. ((camera still on M))

V: Stop tape

No Guarantees for Interviewers

It is Andrew who has apparently had first-hand experience - as witness at least - of actual troubles in actual classrooms, and of actual help by Mrs Simmons, but his narrative method appears to be problematic for the purposes of the documentary film. Although with the above closure ("Alright. Thanks. That's the lot") the interviewer indicates his completion of this interviewing sequence, there are yet two further slates in which the questions about problems and personal problems are put again to Andrew.

In the first of the next two retakes, Andrew persists with [problems] of teachers who pick on students and go angry and give week detentions, and [personal problems] in which students pick on each other, but he appears to struggle with the use of the conditional mood:

V: Rolling= ((camera on clapboard in front of Andrew's face))

V: =Slate three one one ((click))

V: (Now) set

V: Action

I: What sorts of problems can the year patron help year seven students with?

A: The, the teachers when they, the teachers picking on them like teachers might say, ah, they think some kid's done something because they've done it before, and they go really angry at them and they might put them on a week's detention and they have, and they didn't do it? an' Mrs Simmons goes to see that teacher? and, she might have trouble with them sometimes or might sometimes she might, she might find sort out the problem real quick. She might get the kid or, that's been in trouble with the teacher (or). She mi-, she could do, a number of things to, um, sort out the problem but usually probably she goes sees the teacher about the, um, trouble she's having with the child.

I: Are there per sonal problems that, that she can help students with?

A: Yes with the, um, kids, with kids gettin' in trouble with the other chil. with others friends, with peers and that? like they might be teasing, having, um, picking on them like pushing them around and she goes see, she goes sees that child and then she might see the same child that came to her th.that, that was, that child was picking on? and, and so what, what that child, why that child picks on them and that.

I: Yeah, I, I just, ah, (do we need to) stop with that?=

V: =We'll stop with that.

I: And I'll just ask you that last question again.

The idealised socio-logic of the final film text is a resource for the film-makers in their continuous witnessing of the adequacy of the elements that may be inserted into it. Interventions by film crew, or as in the case immediately above of a consultation and tacit agreement between one of the crew and the interviewer, are routine practices that "attend prospectively to possible interpretive problems and provide for interpretive and stylistic coherence". 10 The interviewer is working hard, gently and patiently to achieve something better or different from Andrew. The way of speaking being taken up by Andrew, from among those proferred to him by the evidence of the other two subjects and by the evidence of needing to do retakes, is inappropriate to the little narrative being manufactured here. This problem of how he speaks is part of the problem of 'who' he is on the filming set, and 'who' he will be, in the final film text.

All the talk generated here can be witnessed as talk by some year seven students, given the glance-availability discussed before. In order for the socio-logic of the text to be achieved, however, the film subjects need to (appear to) talk as [year seven students], i.e. they are invited to speak as example members of [year seven students] and to speak for other [year seven students] not present at the filming. The problem with Andrew could be examined via Zimmerman's analysis of naturally occurring conversation, in which he poses the questions of "who, situationally speaking, are they?" and "what, situationally speaking, are they up to?" 11 His analysis shows that one's speaking position can shift in the course of conversation from (hearably) speaking as X to (hearably) speaking as Y; "who" is speaking is an index of "what" people are up to, "situationally speaking". The complication in the case of these filming texts is that there is more than one situation at play. There is, in effect, a triple, and triply implicative, situation: talk by (the glance-availability already established); talk as (representing the [category]); and, I would suggest, talk for and about .

This 'talk for and about' is what Dominque and Martin produce in their facility with the conditional tenses offered in the questions, while Andrew, as I have shown, does not seem to accomplish this. Talk 'for and about' best matches the socio-logic of this film sequence in that the questioning is largely organised around "kinds of things", "kinds of problems", that is again, exemplars rather than actuals . Hence Dominique spoke apparently competently by categorising ([girls' problems]) and by theorising ("if some girls were tea sing ... I-don't-know just girls' problems?"), and Martin's work appears to be fine although he doesn't claim personal knowledge of anyone who has actually gone to see Mrs Simmons. Andrew's information and the manner of his delivery of it does not appear to match the narrative/expository conventions that the film crew and interviewers want and can work with: 12 he is producing a different kind of filmic literacy. To use another analogy, Dominique and Martin adopt the position of the narrator of the travelogue film: 13 they produce their narration "as an outside commentary on the events depicted visually", in this case including themselves as film subjects . Andrew on the other hand, is "telling the code": he speaks as a subject both of the filming and of the topic of the filming sequence - as a subject of the actual work of the year patron. All of them engage in the work of topicalising and saturating the categories for the film text, but they do not all produce themselves as the same kind of discursive subjects. They are deploying different literacies, which amounts in this case to a moral-organisation problem that could occur equally in many other sites of regulated speech. There are no guarantees for the interviewer/coach that questions will be heard, i.e. answers produced, in preferred, even pre-sketched, ways. 14

Looking like a listener

At this point in the filming the director asks for some visual shots of each of the three students looking at each other and the interviewer, as if they were listening to each other speaking. We could describe this as fulfilling an 'attendance' requirement that completes the transitivity. This is done for possible later editing into the final film text. Until this point, the camera has been fixed on each speaker. These additional shots of each person as watcher of/listener to the others could be edited in to secure visually, in another way, the transitivity that is basic to the logic of this sequence. In the course of the actual filming, this procedure is a form of time-out from talking that nevertheless is not time-out from being a film subject. The activity here explicates some of the socio-logic in play among the film crew and film subjects. The study of this sequence also provides for a consideration of how the film subjects manage the triply implicative situation in which they find themselves.

During the earlier interviewing sequences, these speakers visually addressed the interviewer. Martin for the most part kept his gaze fixed on the interviewer, almost as if mesmerised. Dominique and Andrew broke eye contact much more often to glance to middle distance, as conversants do. At the beginning of this sequence, a member of the filming crew asks the interviewer to issue the requests to the students; as it progresses the instructions come from the crew situated somewhere behind the interviewer, but in view of the students.

((camera on Dominque, looking ahead, for 8.0))

V: [((camera on Martin looking up to his left))

[Can you um ask both the boys to look at Dominique for a sec?

I: [Both the boys

[((Martin looks toward interviewer))

V: [Yes to look from you to Dominique?

[((camera still on Martin looking at interviewer))

I: (can) you Martin and Andrew just look at Dominique now for a moment?

((camera on Martin smiling and looking to his right for 4.0))

V: And back again

I: [and back again=

[((Martin turns back to look at interviewer))

V: =Okay do you wanna film, coupla head turns here for? ((camera still on Martin))

V: Alright I'm on [Martin at the moment

V: [( )

V: I'm on Martin at the moment?

((3.5 filming of Martin looking to his left, smiling, then looking back at interviewer))

V: ((camera on Dominique)) Dominique, ((Dominique looks up to her right briefly as she is addressed)) okay so Martin starts speaking, so you look around at Martin

((5.0 filming of Dominique looking first to her left (1.5) and then back to interviewer))

Each of the film subjects replies to the head turning request in a different way. Up until this point, their physical arrangement - lined up side by side in a row - and the structure of their conversational involvement - a succession of individual question-answer sequences - has situated them in parallel fashion to their teacher/coach, the interviewer. The work they have done to secure transitivity has been primarily verbal. The practical interpretive problem confronting them here is how to look as if one is listening to talk that isn't being done. The film-makers' practical solution seems to be that 'looking at' equals 'listening to'. Martin's solution in looking at Dominique is to smile, but uncertainly. The uncertainty could be related to the problem of whether he is supposed to be looking at Dominique qua Dominique, or whether to look at her qua film subject. Further, she is only inches away. Dominique provides a minimal (and unsmiling) acknowledgement of the request to look at Martin (1.5 seconds) then returns her gaze to the interviewer. Why is this 'looking' such a delicate matter? The socio-logic of this 'looking' presupposes that one needs to be watching in order to be listening. But given the close physical proximity of the three subjects on the filming set, this seems to be a point at which the "sense and meaning of shots" in this film narrative are "refracted against" the order of the natural world. 15

V: And Dominique, can you look at Andrew please. ((Dominique looks first to her left then quickly corrects to look to her right for 1.5)) Great.

((camera pans to Andrew))

V: (do the same as)

V: ((hh)) Can you look at Ian? and then look at, Dominique? ((Andrew looks to the left)). Then lean forward so you can see Martin. ((Andrew leans forward)). Great.

V: Back at Ian? ((Andrew looks at the interviewer))

V: Back to Ian ((Andrew still looking at the interviewer))

Triply Implicated Subjects

Speaking, head-turning and other activities on the filming set can be intercepted at any moment by the technical requirements of the filming crew. This is often in the form of a metacommentary on the performance not only of the film subjects but on that of other members of the crew. This is another narrative which works "as an outside commentary on the events depicted visually" but also as "a continuous, connected part" of the scene. 16 The subjects of the film are simultaneously the subjects of the filming practice. The activities of filming are the material practice of the socio-logic of the film text. Interventions by the filming crew are reminders of that connection.

V: Look at Dominique again, [( ) ((Andrew looks to the left))

V: [Can you watch your=

V: =[knee please, Peter?

[((Andrew looks back towards interviewer))

V: What?

V: Your knee thank you ((camera still on Andrew))

V: Okay look at Dominique, (1.0) and then look at Ian (2.0) ((Andrew does this)) Great. Happy?=

((camera remains on Andrew in the sequences to follow))

V: =Three slate three six two

V: No hang on mate second clap you're too b- miles too high

V: Well you told me to go higher. Is that right? ((lifts clapboard))

V: That's right now.

V: Slate three six two.

V: Set

V: Yeah

V: Action?

I: What sort of problems can the year patron help students with

In the final sequence Andrew answers the questions with comparatively pale versions of kids picking on other kids, but also introducing here a description of the kind of kid who would pick on other kids: "think they're number one in the class". He holds out until the end, however, successfully failing to produce the speaking position offered over and over again to him:

A: With um, kids being picked on, like they, kids might be picked on a lot by children because, they're not like they've, kids might think they're, think they're, think that, they think they're, they're number one in the class or, they, [they don't have to bother ( )

I: [I think I'll ask that question again Andrew okay, um, we'll just start again and you just give an example okay. What s- what sort of per sonal problems can the year patron help year seven students with.

A: With kids picking on other kids. In, in class or, out side or some thing like that.

I: How does she help them?

A: She tries and so- she goes to speak to the kid that's picking on and then goes speak to the child that's being picked on, and then she tries to sort it out from there.

I: And does it really work ?

A: Yeah someti- most of the time makes really good friendships.

I: Okay thank you.

((Andrew looks and leans down in visible relief))

Lessons in poststructuralism

In this study of how part of an informational media text is produced, I have focussed on the work of the filming crew, of the interviewer, and of the film subjects in assembling a little narrative, in this case a celebratory narrative about the work of a year patron in a school. Occasionally in the analysis I have made allusions to parallels between the questioning and performing activities undertaken on the filming site, and the ways of organising acting, speaking, and looking that could occur in classrooms, which are also sites of regulated and overseen speech and action. In schools, as on the filming set, students continuously produce texts - both visual and verbal texts for the here-and-now observation and intervention of teachers, and (primarily written) texts for unseen evaluatory audiences (e.g. examiners). They routinely re-draft some of those texts to get them right. In those situations as well, students are asked (invited, required) to position and to insert themselves as subjects into ongoing little narratives (a lesson, a test) which can become parts (documents) of their witnessed displays of competence. Although in the case of these film-making activities the production of talk and activity by and about [students] as subjects of a discourse is simulated in ways set out above, study of the practice of that simulation can show, and help to account for, how [students] elsewhere can be constructed, and construct themselves, in relation to (in this case) educational discourses.

If, as Alvarado and Ferguson suggest, what schools teach is not knowledge but discourses, then part of what teachers and examiners must be looking and listening for are competencies in taking up preferred speaking (reading, writing) positions, i.e. site-specific, discourse-confirming literacy practices. 17 This is not, however, how the work of schooling and other kinds of knowledge-production is conventionally understood.

Conclusion: the 'lived work' of documenting

Much of the activity of science, social science, the informational media, and formal education is organised around the production and consumption of knowledge that is 'objectively true'. However, the information made available in the documentary film is not just a random collection of facts about the setting of the film. It is information organised into narrative and expository themes and theses. The 'news' in this segment of the documentary film-in-the-making, as I have suggested above, is an organised demonstration of familiar categories, and an organised saturation of a new category, in order to make and show ('document') the validity of some point(s) that could be informative to the eventual film audience. Since such points are decided before the filming begins, the filming practices are activities organised to secure the elements of a demonstration of these points.

Thus documentary film-making could be seen as analogous to the work of proving theorems. Livingston has written of the work of proving mathematical theorems as

reasoners [coming] together and - through their own situated actions - by drawing figures in the sand and reasoning about them, demonstrate that something was anonymously the case...Their proofs showed that some descriptive statement about the 'world' of idealized drawings and objects that their own hand-drawn figures made available was objectively true. This is the witnessed achievement of a local production cohort of provers - a mathematical theorem does not depend on the particulars of their situated actions. Yet, somehow, the disengaged adequacy of their work practices is the achievement of those selfsame, local and occasioned practices. 18

A distinction Livingston makes between between two paired parts of a proof can be applied to the case of the documentary film: the "lived work of proving", and the "proof-account". The proof-account is an on-going summation, in speech or writing, of the work that is being done to generate a proof. In the case of mathematics, this is most directly signalled by uses of 'first', 'then' and other terms that audibly or visibly chart the course of the proving. The lived-work of proving includes "the organisation of blackboard or paper space", "the embodied presence of a proof's local production cohort, the pointing and seeing", "the pedagogic indications of beginnings and endings, of asides and steps, the 'little' practical reasoning that underlies the articulated argument and supports it". And in the case of mathematical theorems, the proof is "one coherent, social object", not "two distinct parts circumstantially joined". "The elegance and beauty of a proof depend on the way its proof-account achieves that pairing". 19

It would be plausible but not correct in the case of the documentary film-making to assume we have "two distinct parts circumstantially joined": the lived work of proving to be found in the courses of practical action and practical reasoning that occur on location on the filming sets, and the proof account to be found in the final film text that will later be assembled out of segments of the film footage. Instead, we have a number of 'little proofs' being enacted, each of which reveals equally the "informal logic of culture, particularly because of the scenic embeddedness of actions and events which informs our methods for the visual production of sense". 20

In the enactment of these 'little proofs', the career of the talk is what ties the speaker as individual more or less tightly to the speaker as category-member, and that secures (or does not secure) the moral warrant of the category itself and the cultural truth of the discourse that invokes it. The film subjects are necessarily (and willingly) engaged in inscriptive work: writing (speaking) themselves and others into the sand of the moral positions already drafted into the metanarrative that governs the socio-logic of the filming, and enacted in the lived work organised by the observer/guardians on the filming set.


1. See Lena Jayyusi, "Toward a Socio-logic of the Film Text", Semiotica, v.68 (1988) pp.271-296.

2. Ibid, p.290.

3. Harvey Sacks, "On the Analysability of Stories by Children" in Roy Turner ed., Ethnomethodology (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974), pp.216-232.

4. Lena Jayyusi, Categorisation and the Moral Order (Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984).

5. Carolyn D. Baker, "Knowing Things and Saying Things: How a Natural World is Discursively Fabricated on a Documentary Film Set", Journal of Pragmatics , v.13 (1989) pp.381-393.

6. See also: J. Maxwell Atkinson & Paul Drew, Order in Court: The Organization of Verbal Interaction in Judicial Settings (London: Macmillan, 1989); James Holstein, "Court Ordered Incompetence: Conversational Organisation in Involuntary Commitment Hearings", Social Problems , v.35 (1988) pp.458-473; David Silverman, Communication and Medical Practice: Social Relations in the Clinic (London: Sage, 1987).

7. Jayyusi, Categorisation , p.68.

8. Ibid, p51.

9. Margaret MacLure & Peter French, "Routes to Right Answers" in Peter Woods ed., Pupil Strategies: Explorations in the Sociology of the School (London: Croom Helm, 1980), pp.74-93.

10. Jayyusi, "Socio-logic", p.285.

11. Don Zimmerman, "The Relationship of the Organization of Conversation to Contextual Features". Paper presented at the First International Conference on Understanding Language Use in Everyday Life (Calgary, Alberta, August 23-26, 1989).

12. Sarah Michaels, "Sharing Time: Children's Narrative Styles and Differential Access to Literacy", Language in Society , v.10 (1981) pp.423-442.

13. D. Lawrence Weider, "Telling the Code" in Roy Turner ed., Ethnomethodology (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974), pp.144-172.

14. Alec McHoul, "Why There Are No Guarantees for Interrogators", Journal of Prgamatics , v.11 (1987) pp.455-471.

15. Jayyusi, "Socio-logic", p.290.

16. Weider, "Telling", p.152

17. Manuel Alvarado & Bob Ferguson, "The Curriculum, Media Studies and Discursivity", Screen , v.24 (1983) pp.20-34.

18. Eric Livingston, Making Sense of Ethnomethodology (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987), pp.86-87.

19. Livingston, Making Sense , p.112.

20. Jayussi, "Socio-logic", p.292.

New: 23 December, 1995 | Now: 18 March, 2015