Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis - Campus Access


Film and Television Production (PROD)

First Advisor

Charles Howard


With the growth of streaming services, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, documentary production has boomed. Many documentaries have even found mainstream popularity. For example, the docuseries Tiger King (2020), was the most-watched original series on a subscription-based service in 2020, surpassing Disney’s The Mandalorian (Aufderheide and Woods 4). As platforms rush to produce documentaries to meet increased demand, ethical standards have yet to catch up. This is especially true of hybrid documentaries, where filmmakers introduce narrative elements that blur the line between fact and fiction. A lack of enforced, field-wide standards has led to controversies surrounding the use of fabricated elements without proper disclosure to audiences. Previous studies, such as those by the Center for Media and Social Impact, argue that documentaries should abide by journalistic standards. Instead, I will argue that filmmakers can better serve the public good by establishing standards specific to the documentary field and better categorizing the wide umbrella of films that fall under the word ‘documentary.’ Through a comprehensive analysis of documentary history and the present-day documentary landscape, I will demonstrate that hybridization has been an element of documentary filmmaking from its origins, and I will pose a new set of ethical standards and genre labels with this hybridization in mind.