Discipline from a Distance

Documentary style, Dunedin, New Zealand, 2009. 4:30 mins.

Team: Hamish Jones and Emma Slowley


Discipline From a Distance is a short documentary for DESI 322 – Interaction Design Project. It delves into the serious issue many parents face with disruptive children. The documentary is shot from the perspective of three individuals. The main character Justin (A.K.A JB) a troubled youth whose behaviour is having negative effects on those who surround him. A concerned family member, Stacey, barely together herself, found JB a place in this controversial trial. Throughout the documentary Dr Graham Dixon, Psychologist, shares his views concerning this trial.

Steven (JB) in his concrete jungle

This product’s estimated time of release into the market is 2010 after some complications with manufacturing. There has been a lot of contentious debate surrounding the ethics and implications of such a product reaching the public market. The documentary interviews the CEO and founder of Revol Industries the company at the centre of this litigious subject. The device is a specially designed taser for behaviour modification on youth but could be adapted to any age or desire. This documentary’s aim is to test the public reaction to this innovative device. It can be found on Youtube under several tags; behaviour modification and taser.


After finishing this project we were able to reflect on some of the technical difficulties we encountered during filming. These consisted of such factors as lighting we found that using some basic desk lamps we were able to create a warm light which was sufficient to light the characters face. While filming outside the sunlight provided enough natural light. We also found it possible to use final cut setting to adjust the light in certain frames. Sound was an entirely different issue as there were factors which we could not control such as background noise like the construction of the stadium and noise of the stream. We managed to capture ok sound in the interviews however when interviewing the C.E.O we did not use an external microphone. This reduced sound quality and produced a bad echo. This was also able to be changed in final cut. As we were attempting to film in realistic environments we did not need to change the sets as we chose location to suit the characters.

Some things that we would do differently next time would be to ask characters to speak clearly and pause between statements to making final audio editing a lot easier. Also, when capturing audio without using an external microphone, it is important to have the character speaking as close as possible to the camera microphone. It is best to shoot with as little external noise as possible as they are hard to remove from the audio track. Also for transitions best to zoom in on the camera not final cut as quality is lost using the scale tool.

discipline from a distance final edit 13-9-2009- 0767
Vanessa (Stacey) stressed at home

The Team

The team consisted of two members, Hamish Jones and Emma Slowley who worked tirelessly over the semester to bring you this production. The first pre-production stage was to create a debatable issue that would fit into the brief, being the truth told as a lie or a lie told as the truth. After some discussion and brainstorming contentious issues in New Zealand media we settled on the anti-smacking and introduction of tasers into the New Zealand Police force. The next hurdle was how do we merge these two polemic issues into a succinct idea for ‘Discipline from a Distance’.

The title comes from the recent changes the government has implemented, which takes away teachers and parents right to discipline their children as they see fit. We enlisted several people from outside our group to play the main characters so we could concentrate on the production of the film, controlling factors such as location, script, research, interviewing, lighting and camera operation. Being in a small group made it a lot easier to share post-production duties such as editing.

emma DSC02166

Behind the scenes

During the shooting of this documentary many of the characters had personal matters that they were dealing with. Stacey was in the midst of a welfare dispute. JB was being reprimanded after an incident at school involving another student and a stapler. After leaving our computer unattended over night some footage of the C.E.O. went missing. We believe Revol Industries stole some footage that we had managed to obtain from their recent trials on rats. After some heated discussion with our lawyers we managed to get the interview you see after agreeing to drop the rat footage.

discipline from a distance final edit 13-9-2009- 2953
Graham kicking back at home


We have had heaps of fun making ‘Discipline from a Distance’ and learnt a lot dealing with a project such as this one. We have left the ending open to your interpretation what was the outcome of the trial. Look up the sequel on the net when it will be released in 2012.


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