Where Fact Meets Fiction - The Science Mockumentary
Naik, Peter Pouesi
Mockumentary is a style of film that has existed since 1957, at the latest. A fictional news piece from the BBC told the story about the annual spaghetti harvest occurring in Switzerland. Presented in the style of a typical news piece, this parody went on to fool many viewers. From these humble beginnings, mockumentary (as a genre of film) has since taken a place on the world stage. Mockumentaries such as This is Spinal Tap (1984); Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006); and Summer Heights High (2007) have proved the efficiency and popularity of this film form.Despite this popularity, there is a noticeable gap in the coverage of scientific subjects. This is especially noticeable when comparing the 3.8% of mockumentaries covering scientific subjects, with the 23.2% of documentaries that communicate science. This lack of science communication in mockumentary is something that could be changed in future filmmaking efforts, as mockumentary holds certain elements that are beneficial to science communication. The inherent humour, parody, and story elements in mockumentary all have the potential to greatly benefit science communication, as long as potential drawbacks are considered. Namely the risks of the audience missing the point, criticism of ‘tricking’ the viewers, and the reliability of the information.These elements of mockumentary are shown to be beneficial to science communication (with the careful consideration of the potential drawbacks) through the creative component of this thesis, a scientific mockumentary Kiwis Against Birds.Kiwis Against Birds follows Richard Duncan, the founder of a non-profit, community led organisation ‘Kiwis Against Birds’. Richard is attempting to bring more young people into ‘Kiwis Against Birds’, and enlists the help of some friends to help teach these young adults how to get rid of all of the birds. Kiwis Against Birds utilises humour, parody, and story to communicate science on how habitat destruction/degradation, irresponsible cat ownership, and commercial fisheries can negatively impact native bird populations. Kiwis Against Birds illustrates the potential of using mockumentary to communicate science.
Advisor: Longnecker, Nancy
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Department of Science Communication
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis