There’s a running argument about whether or not reality-style programming has helped or irreparably hindered the traditional documentary. Storm Surfers 3D provides an excellent example for dissection because everything that makes this Aussie documentary about big-wave surfers sexy for TV proves problematic in a feature treatment.
For instance, the perfect sound bite plays just fine when it’s sandwiched between 30-second spots and in-your-face images of gigantic breakers. Yet, insert that little segment of massaged, and potentially rehearsed or regurgitated content into a feature documentary and it starts to feel forced.
We forgive a lot of the contrivance in reality TV because people who hoard crap, bid on storage lockers, pump iron on the boardwalk and pimp their kids on the catwalk aren’t naturally succinct or even all that verbal.
They need a producer to tell them what to do and to put words in their mouths, otherwise they wouldn’t be famous at all. And these days, fame is a quest unto itself, pursued by the talentless but shameless masses.