Re-enactments and Dramatizations

An argument over infidelity turns explosive as a woman whacks her errant lover on the side of his head with a badminton racket. A foolish thief nearly dies of asphyxiation after being trapped in a chimney during an attempted home break-in. An unsuspecting mail carrier is mauled by a territorial pet goat as he attempts to deliver a parcel.

What do these events have in common (aside from being hysterical to those with a morbid sense of humor)? They’re all perfect examples of scenes that lend themselves to re-enactments. Because, let’s be honest, there’s never a camera around when the really good stuff happens. When you want to illustrate a point, or let people know how a scenario unfolded in the past, a re-enactment is often the best way to go.

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Re-enactments may are commonly seen in shows documenting true crimes, but their versatility goes way beyond that.

You may be most familiar with re-enactments as an element of true-life crime shows. Surveillance video is fine for the run-of-the-mill robbery or smash-and-grab, but how often do you get a truly heinous crime caught on camera? Even if the opportunity reared its ugly head, you probably wouldn’t want to show an actual murder to an audience. People may not mind seeing someone’s dreams shattered during eliminations on Dancing with the Stars or The Voice, but they’re not quite ready for a return to Rome’s gladiatorial games. A re-enactment allows them to understand what happened during the crime, while knowing the actors they’re seeing in the video are all right in real life.

What’s the difference?

At this point you may be wondering whether there’s a difference between a re-enactment and a dramatization. The answer is “yes”, although the dividing line can often be hazy. The real test is in the details. A re-enactment generally stays as close to the real scene as possible, which may mean the dialogue is sparse or non-existent. In a dramatization, there’s more creative license. For example, in movies “based on a true story,” much of the dialogue may be entirely fictitious, concocted by the writers and bearing no relationship to what was actually said during the real events.

Dramatizations of historical events may re-enact general aspects of the actual event, but rely on creative license to fill in details which aren't documented by historical records

Dramatizations of historical events may re-enact general aspects of the actual event, but rely on creative license to fill in details which aren’t documented by historical records

Dramatizations also tend to push extremes, especially when a there’s a criminal-victim scenario, to ensure you are entirely sympathetic to the victim. You may cry over the victims in the movie, but if you met the actual people behind the characters in real life you could end up thinking they got exactly what they deserved.

The so-called “historical re-enactments” you see on television and in movies are often more properly categorized as dramatizations. This is partly because we cannot be sure of a lot of details of historical events, from conversations to the weather at the time to what people were wearing that day, so creative license is needed to fill in the gaps.

Finally, dramatizations aren’t limited by time. Re-enactments deal with things that happened in the past, but dramatizations can deal with things that take place in the future, or might never take place at all. They can be entirely fictitious, simply to illustrate a point.

Re-enactments and dramatizations aren’t just for television or movies. They can also be highly useful for training, instructional, or educational videos. You could covertly tape your employees in the break room, waiting for two of them to fight over a work-related issue so that you can show it at a company-wide presentation on dealing with stress in the workplace. Or, you could use a fictitious scenario to illustrate the same point, having actor portray people with a fictitious conflict. This will help you get exactly want you need in your video without those pesky people from HR raising a fuss over humiliating your co-workers.

Whether you choose a dramatization or a re-enactment, you’ll want to have quality actors for the job. Hencar offers casting services during the pre-production phase. If you wish, you’re welcome to participate to ensure you get just the right people for your project. Storyboarding and scriptwriting, along with extensive research into the facts of the events being re-enacted, are also part of the package. Whichever way you choose to go, you can be sure the final product will be well worth the investment when you work with Hencar.

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