This week I read the Nichols reading, Why are Ethical Issues Central to Documentary Filmmaking. I strongly agree with the points he makes about the believability of documentaries and the ethical issues that arise from having this sort of representative power over a culture. I think of the movie Gasland made by documentarian Josh Fox as a good example of the problems that are created when the creator of a documentary does not abide by these ethical rules. In this documentary, Josh is on a mission to uncover the damage that big fracking companies are doing to the local communities.
In his documentary, he has interviews with many different “affected” families where it seems like they are being totally taken advantage of by these big companies, who refuse to help or speak on the matter, and there is a famous scene where he lights one families sink water on fire. Due to clever editing, and cutting out select parts of interviews, he is able to paint a pretty clear picture of his opinion. His claims were so false, it lead to the making of a response documentary, Truthland, where it is revealed in interviews with the same families that his movie was wildly inaccurate, and that their interviews were taken way out of context. This is a perfect example of what happens when filmmakers act unethically, especially when creating a documentary.