The global revolution at the start of the 21st century in digital content distribution for creative work on the internet resulted in a changed policy direction for the Australian Film Commission. In late 2000 the AFC called for established documentary makers to propose documentary projects that would explore the online environment in innovative, challenging and original ways. The research question undertaken in “The Wrong Crowd” was to set a benchmark for the cinematic potential of the computer screen as engaged with by a documentary audience online.
“The Wrong Crowd: Inside the Family, Outside the Law” is a public history recounted through the prism of a “bildungsroman” narrative. Theoretical issues emerged around the nature of the documentary form and its inherent truth-claim as the work traversed intersections between documentary evidence, history in the public domain and personal memory on the internet.
The significance of the research is that it succeeded in providing a narrative experience for an audience in an online setting. Its value is attested to by the following indicators: its inclusion as a linear piece in the 2004 DVD of the Australian Film Commission’s “best of” funding outcomes; its selection for an interactive screening at the REAL: life film festival at the Institute of the Moving Image; its inclusion in Graduate seminar series at AFTRS and ANU; and the publication of the accompanying theoretical research conclusions as a journal article, “Producing history for an ‘electrate’ generation”, Studies in Documentary Film, Vol 2 (1) and as a book, “The Wrong Crowd, Theory and Practice in Producing Documentary Online”, Verlag DM (2008).