Netflix includes some of the top shows and movies in the world which many people know about. However, the rise of the documentaries are gaining popularity on Netflix as well, which includes documentaries that are feature length, and more series like formats as well. A documentary such as Flint Town, is an example of multi-episode documentary series. While 13th, is a stand alone feature length documentary. After watching both of these documentaries, each one has many differences and similarities.
Flint Town is a dramatic and intense documentary. In many ways it feels like pure entertainment and is riveting. The thrill level is exaggerated for the viewer knowing that these are real life events taking place. No actors. Instead of a narrator conducting a voiceover, which is typical in documentaries, this show does not have that. Instead, direct quotes are the only voices heard, which adds a intimate feel to the show also making it feel more believable.
13th though, is a feature Netflix length documentary. According to Sudeep Sharma in Netflix and the Documentary Boom, Sharma says, “It has made feature- length documentary a core pillar of its service, both as a way to highlight its connection to quality cinema and and to distinguish its catalog from more mundane forms of television programming.” By doing this, documentaries such as 13th can be used to highlight key issues in society at a big platform/stage. In addition, Netflix is also an extremely useful and economical way to show educational documentaries in institutions.
When comparing the storytelling effectiveness of a feature length documentary or a series, one thing noted from Flint Town is that there is much more time to tell the story, because of the series type format. With this format, more details can be presented and a closer and deeper insight can be highlighted by the filmmakers. In Flint Town, the story would take personal asides at many times to show individual stories about specific police officers serving the town of Flint, MI. The extra time allows for this type of storytelling, which is more in depth. Being able to actually show specific examples of what the documentary message is trying to tell is also important. A lot of the time, a feature length will show stats of crime instead of actual crime footage. Well, in this series, they have the time to show nitty gritty details with cameras following officers around on the street.
On the other side of the coin, a feature length documentary such as 13th can be effective for the audience who can’t commit to an entire series. Feature length films are also especially perfect for audiences who may want to watch in a group setting. In this instance, a group can get together to watch the complete show instead of committing to 5+ hours watching a whole series. The 13th talks about racial and human rights issues which is a delicate topic. Putting this sort of film out on a big platform such as Netflix ensures a large audience, for a delicate issue, where in the past only supporters of such issue would watch by seeing special screening or buying a DVD. Therefore, when discussing Sharma’s point about feature length films being important to Netflix’s core, I would argue that yes it is, but showcasing series such as Flint Town, is just as beneficial. It would have been extremely rare for people to be hooked on a series that was a documentary before Netflix. However, since Netflix has invested money into these types of shows, people have been binge watching non fiction for the first time ever in many aspects. Yes, these shows cans till be educational, but Netflix has found a way to not only do that, but also make them extremely exciting and entertaining which is almost as important as bringing light to serious topics.