The Paedophile Hunter

The Paedophile Hunter was broadcasted earlier this month and personally I absolutely loved the documentary. The subject matter was important, it invoked social change, and the physical execution and presentation of the subject was cinematic. The reaction following its broadcast show the issues it has raised, whether people agree with Stinson Hunter’s techniques or not it has still got his presence and his message out into the public sphere.

BAFTA nominated Dan Reed was response for the creation of this film, coming on board as a self-shooting director. With such an open subject to film he was able to create a very stylistic documentary which breaks the convention of the generic realism apparent in fly-on-the-wall style pieces.

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The whole piece is presented as a grittier version of realism, reflecting the taboo nature of the subject matter. The palette is darker, desaturated, with a higher contrast through the grade and lighting choices. The visual treatment further reflects the position of Stinson Hunter in society, his darker history, and creates an icon contrapuntal to the social change he is fighting for. The treatment of the colour itself would suggest he is a criminal, and this is where the subjective nature of the documentary comes into play – is he a hero? is he a vigilante? is what he is doing right?

Ultimately reflecting upon this text in relation to Billy I appreciate the highly stylised nature, proofing that documentaries depicting real life don’t necessarily need to look like real life. Rather than colour grading this documentary I am presented with a great opportunity to reflect what is going on in Billy’s mind and build upon the story through stills of the visual alone.

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