The Art of Documentary Filmmaking (2008)
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The Art of Documentary Filmmaking (2008)



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From cinema vérité pioneers Albert Maysles and Joan Churchill to maverick directors like Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, this program presents the reflections and experiences of some of the documentary world’s brightest luminaries.

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Interviews with 38 directors are combined with over 160 clips from such films as Grey Gardens, The Thin Blue Line, Touching the Void, and One Day in September. Each participant describes both the journey of making a film and that of making a life in filmmaking, while addressing a fundamental question: can a documentary capture reality, and what does that look like? Interviewees include those mentioned above as well as Jennifer Baichwal, Alanis Obomsawin, Jennifer Fox, Scott Hicks, Hubert Sauper, Sabiha Sumar, Peter Wintonick, and Jessica Yu.

thank you okay never back off are we rolling I'd love to go to the movies but it never occurred to me that I could ever make movies in fact I went to undergraduate school and engineering which which I hated from day one I mean it just sort of happened before making films I worked as a professional chef and I did that for about 10 years Ravin Sakura double fare but that dutiful told America I can come up when I was 14 I knew I would make films I started to develop stories in screenplays and was always chased out of offices of producers by the sixteen-year-old it seemed to me that would be a waste of time to be a writer the majority of the population wouldn't be able to read what I wrote and I loved going to films you and then I thought films was really my medium so I became an editor at first because it was that that that darkness I liked starting my person psychologist in science you learn to be open-minded very important to making a documentary if she Connie Danny take on river Kunene annotation she is a guru film my first job on a documentary shoot was you know here's the Nagre your recording sound and I was like working with that amazing dance with people in the frame you go to lunch and you would talk about it there was just this great kind of immersion in the adventure of it which I found incredibly appealing ant was astounding and I just fell in love and then I went to film school and I dropped out of homeschooling that's another story documentary filmmaking and Saguna pal film daughter cinema to tell others film is it's the absolutely the freest way of cinema your you have such an enormous spectrum of possibilities of expression but I'm sorry I speak English but it's not very well in the middle of the night with the tiny camera in my right hand with a tiny candy in my left hand lighting the person's face and and that was you know become cinema because it goes on screens around the world and it's like you cannot have less you know documentary filmmaking is about of being inspired by the moment it's about the joy of letting something affect you and respond whether it's with your camera or whether yourself as a person if you're the interviewer it's about relating in a space like dancing real life is so much more interesting and so much more bizarre than anything you can make up and you know the imagination is always limited but somehow reality is infinitely bizarre and weird and compelling is the thing that fiction films about a hag did they are just can't offer it's a very super real thing that you're doing it's highly charged it forces people to examine themselves it's very intense I'm certain from dark blue Calif where many other vanguardia the mound in many other metaphor I think of it as a filmmaker as a way to understand conflicts and and and and human contradictions and power you have people who are confronted with decisions and what are they going to do pommade undocumented seed above means to our the personage shows Kazakh count de vermois in Obion construction he ki Fateh a posteriori the part that I like about documentary is that it can be anything the part I don't like about it is that you are constantly being told that documentary has to be one thing rather than a whole multiple of possible things walked he had a confession there he wanted me to sign said that I would sign hey they can give a damn what he knows that huge patient my brains create things that are about the world they're not meant as purely fiction they're meant as stories about real events real people we piece together reality each one of us from bits and pieces of stuff reality isn't handed to us whole it has the power to plant questions in people's minds it has the power to make you empathize with things which you never really knew you could empathize with you can see why I enjoy makin DJ rather than telling people what to think who you know they're learning a lesson were taking them through an emotional experience which chain which opens a little window into something it's an emotional medium it's not a medium of intellect and intellectual discourse it's about engagement and and emotional the form itself is no longer a kind of linear information based form it's something which could take from other art forms from the great river of cinema I see them all like a painter would see them those kind of colors on a palette as you're making a painting the painting is it in our world now documentary film [Applause] [Applause] leejohn jacksonville florida Jewish is a vodka policia Mundi Bejoy family presenter says at least once an hour connected I connected IT systems are notoriously Levada fish dodging acid the promise to our cheese omelet a banal madura ha contagion tell Manny could to know Cueva de venir proven arrival Romania exam player Jenna Messner absalom Appa in Seagal usually fulfilled on and early summer appreciate a mouth may know her got some gossip that window Michigan Kosciusko Mississippi focus on kusudama edit a compatible TV feel entire the avocado skin Callie party – – Luna from she toenail more predictable she may release it combines the sake for human society Stalin's firstly there are so many ideas for documentaries out there you know you'll go to a party your time be talking to a friend oh you know make a great film they're just ideas just floating out there in the ether but the ones that stick are getting these ones that you will you have a lot of curiosity I think for me that's the biggest thing is is there enough personal curiosity about that subject about what happens in that story to propel the very long enervating process that is making a film Malone wants it to Jurassic omakase if we are playing a good she told this is s all the descrition the Eureka moment for me when I'm thinking about a film is when I really feel there's something I want to say and it I'd I feel arrogant i I mean I I it sounds to me arrogant to say that like why would you know I have anything to say that people haven't already thought of but in fact that is the little egotism of the artist I feel very intrigued by the Enigma of human beings you know how somebody really nice and very sympathetic you can just sit there and say my job is flying bombs into the Congo you know the origin of the idea was that moment ten years ago when I met some of these Russian pilots and I knew I had something in my hands that was very explosive and was very clear then I knew I had found the right location at the right environment to make a point on the state of our time in an economically and socially one strange product which is that fish tells us the whole story of our times in the way yeah I mean I always tell people if you can walk away walk away it's only when you can't walk away from a subject that you should make it because it's too hard to make documentaries it requires enormous commitment time you will never be rewarded financially enough so the need to make it is actually I think the first essential point I stumble across things that immediately fascinate me deeply and then I know there is no choice all all the projects I have done were uninvited guests like having inviting two guests for dinner and you opened the door a little bit and all of a sudden you have the entire apartment the house full of uninvited guests I'm giving this talk in Chicago and this man mint mentions Henry Darger and that he knows Dodgers last landlady and then the next thing I know I'm standing in Dargis room the room that really was the place where he spent the last 40 years and I wasn't thinking I wanted to make a film I just wanted to see more of the work but when I stood in that room I had one of those moments where my heart was just beating really fast and I was just the king like the presence of this person was so strong and this room was so beautiful like everything in there was sort of old and dusty but everything was something he had collected there and there was just a the sense of the person and the place that I felt like you could make a film out of this and I wanted to know more and that was the beginning of the ball rolling the curiosity building and the sense that I needed to try to follow this and see where it went there's a lot of serendipity in this world I mean certain projects you you if you stock and you try to make them others come and land in your lap [Applause] I was driving my car and I hear the news the shooting in Boca there was a barricade of police officers and you couldn't was amazing I guess I felt it's my duty to has to be documented by one of us we wanted to transmit what I felt and when I saw there and what the story was and what it was like so that whoever's looking at it can understand what that story is cuz it was so complicated we thought it'll last you know two three days or in another weekend but it lasted 78 days sometimes you just end up in these incredible situations which you probably in in the light of day would choose maybe not get into but by that time you're so intrigued that you continue on um I shot it off quite innocently to calm or innocently in as much as I was looking around in the area of hunting but not to actually do a hunt I wanted to get into something quite remote but also quite sure what this old man who worked for the hunt went out and about in his van picking up animals and the first place we went to he just shot it a that shot me but be then to discover the animal was completely healthy and this was just about market values that's got me going and then you're on it then you know there is something happening that you need to follow and it starts to dictate your journey what's the dramatic premise who is it about but the underlying story there's something that's really important it's on the line do you have to have some kind of framework what you're planning to do you you have to keep adjusting to what is going on and I was totally unprepared I had no shooting permit I had no crew I had nothing okay get the camera out quick you know shoot a lot of it is just luck much important scallion young Kelly on a national mental much identity second exist pero si si Chris a create a peon Santa de filma yuck Mucha importancia Alda positive okay la la da la Carrera para que sería Kamini for me it's more about the ideas in the structure at an early stage because I always feel if I have a shape or a story or a movement through a film then other things will follow about a year ago I found out that I might have one or even two hundred half brothers and sisters I don't know who they are nor do I know the man from whose body we were all made I was looking for a dramatic setup a dramatic question which would drive the quest the basic dramatic question is will this guy find his bio-data the underlying question is what is the meaning of family and I knew I had a couple of leads on who this farm donor might be so I knew I had that possible sperm donors all negative so I knew that those leads would take me somewhere so I figured I had enough of a quest with some ups and downs and that's what I structured beforehand but I was very nervous because I mean what if nothing happened can you get the name of the donor no we don't have it we're not allowed to because it's confidential and mostly donors only donate under that basis that it will remain confidential all right thank you very much significant Bakula's named adam adocus way Masuda jazz sadakatsu totem a pube she permit anele je peux Raveena de creme messy circus said except to Lord process Cisco Kid spiritual support supported the triple scenario la la letra pre hora de su madre Bob Cousy machine Avanti Tony reserve mmm miss kazursky Kohanga Company noticed machines reveal is imagine a DA miteta monkeys exist for the right in the rumps of the unreal was the most pre-scripted film that I'd worked on up to that point the paintings were one component of a world that Henry Darger was creating he had written you know the 15,000 page novel he was writing you know these battle songs to be you know played in his head and he was really creating his three-dimensional world as he could to you know sort of populate this sort of ultimate story the structure was the thing that I worked hardest on how to tell the parallel stories the stories of what Henry Dodgers real-life what happened actually in that time what was happening in the world around him and then what was the story that he was telling in his fiction in the book in the realms of the unreal so to find a way to weave those things together was a real challenge I always think making it was a bit like kind of building blocks you start off with one thing and then you that gives you certain amount of information you move on to the next thing and then so a film becomes more and more you you get more and more information as you make a film and you have more and more questions and your questions become more and more focused before you start a film you don't just go and like cast a net everywhere I mean you have to say this is what I'm interested in my country my country looks at an Iraqi family and what happens to them during the occupation but it's really I think a film about America you're sort of on this journey but you don't know necessarily where it's going there is the sort of delicate balance of having a plan and then also surrendering to what you encounter the next challenge is identifying the people who you'll follow who will take you through this conflict in a way you're casting you know when you go out and you meet people you're assessing the level of interest you think that they will have for the audience how engaging are they how articulate are they what are their particular interests and quirks you know what is it about them that that makes them fascinating to you when I think it Kathleen but I remember unfortunately yes her dying in my arms that's always the overwhelming image premiere party Michael Peterson's MCD voila personage Bahama home anezka seated Ithaca on the Papa at Chateau too skittish example some way hell 30 minutes of that son of bitch mm girl it was it was Francine and I was and I was no the end that was yes Amoy Sanfilippo CEO mr personage xperia tipo de bigger-than-life subsidiaries on 12 walk the ratio please say Tedesco on var Chauncey Pasillas pass a measure she sat down give us basically shows : that tompa things are getting better there we are outside of the house with median mr. Kang old mansion where the mother inside it's important that you choose someone that you could connect with and hopefully things will happen and that were not predicted specifically before you got into it but things would take turn toward a story I see you know and way too sexy in here yeah because I don't like the country and I don't want to be here any little rat's nest any little mouse huh any little rathole even an intent to have in the end I would like better I primarily make character films I hide my issues in character and stories but I've got to find the characters I got to cast it to know who to hang it on the reason they wanted to be filmed that their station was literally being allowed to be run into the ground when people feel they're being flushed down the loo basically I think if someone comes in and says can i I want to shine light upon you then people respond there's a reason but I didn't know their characters I certainly didn't know Derek in the tickets shop and he wouldn't let me in the ticket shop so I didn't have the correct paperwork got he was pedantic which is why it was so magical when I got in there that he was as he was and be prepared to accept that you're not going to go any further I think that's the difference between being happy or miserable because I'm not going to achieve anything in life so as your song must be depression enough people want to talk to cameras mostly not because they want to be famous it's because there is such a seductive 'ti of just a neutral listener and usually we've been trained to be listeners when we have a camera and that is a rare thing in our world somebody to just listen to you people will say things in front of a camera that they wouldn't even say to their loved ones that's what I find it so strange the camera has this effect on you somehow because of the artificiality of the situation you're more honest and more truthful rather than less honest and truthful I don't know quite why that is it would have been up at first light I thought cuz I was desperately desperately and he would have been and he would have wanted to get down and get water and he would have wanted to find me now I did stop the pause I shouted across into the crevasse yeah as I was interviewing Joan Simon they would first of all come out with this very pet very simplistic version of things and if for a couple of hours we just got that out of the way and then they kind of ran out of things to say and then this extraordinary thing happens where actually the camera starts to act as a kind of catalyst and starts to sort of almost sort of drag things out of people and I suppose again we you know we thought with a with the benefit of hindsight you know after I got off the rope I should have gone and looked into the crevasse to see where he was you know but and you could literally see them reliving elements of it to me at that time you know once you started I started to see that on the monitor I thought well that's that's that's that's the film I think the interesting thing is to know what is the relationship between the person behind the camera and the person in front of the camera because that's something an audience have the right to know it's like do these people like each other do they have an intimate relationship is a relationship of trust well you know what is a filmmaker actually really think there's a sort of weird intensity of in the relationship that develops which developed with I Liam warned us in particular we have evil in us all of us do and my evil would just happen to come out because of circumstances of what I was doing hitchhike and Hook and on the road I was a homeless person all my life the Eileen film was probably the most difficult thing I've ever done and I imagine dick feels the same way you know we had a relationship with her she actually requested that we come and be witnesses to the execution which we declined I choose people that I can relate to and I trust also from my side and I before switching out a camera I usually tell them as good as I can who I am at what I'm doing it what I'm made of you know Elizabeth was a key character was a very close friend of us inside I know why she knew what we were looking for she knew our our thoughts you knew you know what we're what we're about to do kind of film Oh and suddenly she's not there anymore she's dead and of course it had to be part of the film because it's was so hard on ourselves and and of course it's a very very painful part of the film because the pain we had filmmakers is now on screen and that is what we call art of cinema is to transform a life experience into into cinema and and make it into your life experience as a spectator jeopardy todos a mimic Amara Mikasa Shinkansen do mental circuit Rami Nieto la sombra todos acarajé de lo capo de hero Missy ho Oh c'est quoi no to consent a todo en la persona todo todo absolutamente tow cuando to comparte las lágrimas cons a persona porque lo que estas reza bien de una historia en que le intone Sinatra Vita funciona Nikita Tami Santo una entrevista son intercambio de vida Fondamenta a goon espacio cinematography go eat go to the haunted HT orchard a hunter is it pero Michael tell me could Titian not control esc Shakira a la gente en un character Universal UN character son plan of verdaderos son plano bla knows es la gente cuando siente que tu eres romántico Yosa Saverin sense say por eso Lee siamo conversaciones porque es como nunca se como estas hablando en cuenta con le nom Park y tienes realmente una una conversación using your taxi stuff in my car I got yellow tip Sukarno a system facility a thing I still team up arrow may throw Cooper a kilo Cointreau bar de carro en robably no sin O'Meara Baraka ela drunk AV naka viene principalmente abrir de esta puerta cuando abre la puerta que c'est le ka e SE vas estar de repente e ceiba en caso que no se su stay entra y adentro para rank r el carro yo tengo que contar tree salaam berries you know people think they're going to be interviewed sitting behind a desk with a flag and a flower behind them and you know they become very presentational and I think what Nick does is is fantastic because he he gets people in their essence that's why he likes to be rolling when we knock on a door and somebody opens it our brains are saturated with information within the first second of seeing somebody and you see this giant it's very funny I think it's quite revealing of both me and him we take in information so quickly and the audience is getting all this information too I think there's been a tradition in the past of going in and interviewing people and changing their sitting room all around and relighting it and all you're doing is destroying the very things that you should be filming my dad used to tell me when I was a young kid I'd look at it a job that had to be done and he'd say to me you know nothing's impossible and that always stuck in my car I couldn't believe it you know nothing's impossible there was no such office we created the office you had the insurance trophies up in the attic in a box we brought him down we put him up on the wall we created this environment for him specifically designed my office so that I could display the maximum trophies on walls and in that environment I bring this guy he came alive it was a return to these heroic insurance salesman moments of the past he he came alive for the camera we created something which was part of his fantasy world I don't like this whole idea of interview you know in a documentary because it's like somebody's telling you something that's happened or and you sort of said something you know whereas what I what I love is when things happen naturally in real life it's this whole thing of seeing something unfold in front of you fire that the little nine-year-old who was eight when she was circumcised she came up to me and she said come to my house I thought well she's gonna read me a poem and then she sweats an interview said we don't really do interviews vasya and she said you've got to come up in you know I've depended I want I want I've got a reason for you to come I want you to come so we went in stand there Kim right and then she told me the poem right into the camera I want to tell you a poem and titled the day I will never forget it was on a Sunday night when my mom called me and she said my daughter come in a low voice I went quietly suddenly my mom said my daughter tomorrow is your d-day those the things that you sort of depend on happening but I couldn't have planned it the question of how you frame an interview how you photograph an interview how you cut an interview is all really up for grabs and very very interesting what is that the heart it's a more complex phenomenon that you might think I was thinking about the intera Tron before I even became a filmmaker I certainly was aware of this whole issue of eye contact if you come in and how could I get the person I was interviewing to look at me and look right into the lens at the same time and the answer is mirrors prompters cross connected to cameras my image is floating on the lens but the camera is looking straight through that image at the person it makes the fog of war a different kind of film you're really scrutinizing McNamara and McNamara is talking directly to you in the audience he and I'd say we're behaving as war criminals I don't even think it was clear to me at the time that I was making it how powerful that actually could be [Applause] with a documentary there's an agreement with the audience that you are referencing or giving an account of evidence-based reality that you are actually saying this is the way the world is as I see it and that has very little to do with whether use actors or recreations or or or anything really except that there's an agreement that this is an account of reality people have a sense when that is violated I just discovered the vera Herzog when he did little teeter needs to fly he had this scene where Dida comes home to his house in California and he opens and closes the door several times because he was a prisoner in Laos he can't feel shut in so he opens and close to the door of quickly right right to make sure it's unlocked it's very powerful moment and I always remember it in the film total bullshit head SOG made that up and made him do it and it is a wonderful dramatization of the guys theme but I think that's a lie look at Michael Moore he makes pamphlets basically he makes polemical films where he carefully constructs a reality to serve his needs and he's blatant about it and he makes he's careful and checking his facts but when you see his film which I usually popular and have done a great deal for us documentarians but he he commits some people would say crimes towards the art form of documentary it is all manipulation I mean let's let's not be too sort of saintly about this I think filmmaking and documentary making is a very subjective process and anybody who tries to present themselves as telling the truth in some way is perpetrating a fraud because it's just impossible this idea that there is no such thing as absolute truth that truth is subjective there's truth for you there's truth for me everybody has their own truth for me that's nonsense talk there's a real world we inhabit that real-world things happen someone sits in the driver's seat of that car and pulls the trigger that's not up for grabs there's not this guy's truth and that guy's truth is the truth of what actually happened that night when you see a film and you have good reason to think that it's the truth then your knowledge of the real world has been increased and it's so important to for us to really know what's going on do you do have to be respectful of the facts yeah you should let the facts get in the way of a good story you absolutely should and out of that will emerge a true story I tell the story in a way where I'm searching for not for just the facts I'm into something which gives you deeper insight into an essence into a concentration of something that is way beyond facts and that is that is truths us an ecstasy of truth as I sometimes call it otherwise facts are not that interesting if you want to have facts going by yourself the phone directory of Manhattan you've got eight million entries and they're all correct they're all facts but they do not constitute anything all of it is artificial they're all different at shades of the same color what I'm trying to do in my films is equally um dishonest if you like I'm trying to say this really is real this is me hand-holding they're talking to me there are no other gizmos this is life as it happens but obviously that's also rubbish because I've chosen that person the person's changing their behavior because I'm there in the edit they'll be put in a context that makes them slightly different I mean we're all aware that there is no such thing as an objective voice so you must acknowledge perspective but at the same time I really think that unless you are constantly checking and calibrating that perspective as you're working you can stray off into dangerous places ethically morally the sequence in one day in September where we see Joseph Romano's body him in a photograph dead covered in blood presents classic filmmakers moral dilemma Joseph Romano's wife and his daughter saw the way Lupin is good and they were appalling they said initially we don't want that sequence to be in the film as a storyteller you want to impact your audience and show them how terrible this event was I said if you want people to feel like somebody is really to blame you need to show them what they're to blame for so in the end they agreed that the photos should stay in ultimately you've got to look into yourself and say do I feel like I'm doing something exploitative or don't I and it has to be a person or a personal decision and and there is no hard and fast rule I always tell the individual person because it always happens we get very intimate and the person is in confidence and will say things sometime that they never said before to anyone else because of the relationship you develop with your subject and I always say to them at first if should it be that you say something that you feel very sorry that you said it you tell me and I don't have to use that now the difference is I know many people they say you're crazy to do this because what if the person tells you something and you know you're the only one that knows that I'm ukee it's very important to the film for me it's never important enough for me to damage someone's life we think it's a kind of noble enterprise were revealing and capturing people's stories and transforming them and sharing them with people but in in fact we rely very much on people's stories so we are sucking in a certain way the stories right out of people you know it's a difficult a difficult job sometimes either there's a conflict sometimes you want something in the film and they don't want to be in the film and there's a you know there's a bit of a feeling of grab it and run you know these temptations it want to want to do that I really have a problem with the sort of documentary tradition of sort of the first world going to the third world and bringing those pictures back I mean I really I think that it doesn't I think it's problematic because it really doesn't address the fact that whose were actually looking at these films stopall punishment they can't view it – cause they are children we have looked through every one of these files these juveniles are dangerous you know it'd be very easy for me have made a film about sort of my imperiled experience in Iraq so if I had a bunch of Americans watching a film about me in Iraq then what would it would basically be a story about how dangerous Iraqis are and ultimately the film is how much Iraqis are suffering in this war how much like us they are and how little we know about them what people often say is you know people from a country should film people in that country and that that's there's a big truth in that particularly for countries that have always been phone filmed by people from outside because of economics but within that country there's so many different layers often people with the equipment are going to be people from the Apple you know the upper part of society and I remember what with the court case at the end in the down of get there was a local TV crew these two Kenyan guys there we said to them are you going to come back in two weeks you know when when we get the Verdi they said oh no it's not a big story and it wasn't very interesting we're not going to come back and that's what I say to people when they say you know how how dare you Kim go to Kenya and make a film those orders that were given are now confirmed and the orders were to the effect that the guards should not be circumcised the people should be weird when sued should be restrained that case would never have been filmed because it wasn't thought of as important it was never going to be filmed by local TV crews because they were interested in filming the dignitaries the rich people they were interested in filming what they thought overs TV events and these little girls from them from the mountains taking their parents to call wasn't seen as as a as a news story for me one of the most important aspects of this ethical Enterprise called documentary is the subjects that were filming in the world and most Pineda is miyazaki parle pas encore please come associate city is the more refinement the fettman depart in your confirm the Machiavelli fuses the patrician merely accept economies of in sabaha resume okay listen you did in the first week of my filming I was arrested twice I was chased by mobs once or twice and I knew that this was being done on orders from you know ministers in the government at that point and so on so if anything it got my back up and I said you know I'm actually more determined to finish the film adversity is a natural element in which a movie is getting created in a way filmmaking is not welcome to to the regular to the regular world and you have to anticipate that there will be controversies there will be adversities almost every single film think you're going this way you hit a wall yeah have to go this way and lo and behold it takes you into an area that was unexpected and actually is your movie with a place called Chiapas I ran into a real wall soup commandante marcos who is one of the major figures the iconic figure of the Zapatista uprising and the two of us ended up and arguing you know we didn't get along which was like a nightmare and in the mid and besides all of that he was busy he was writing a revolution right it cranked up the stakes of the film on all sides it made it a more sophisticated film more complex film thinking that Muhammad Ali no tengo una mano muerto you think all sorts of sites the forces including on you and you have to keep them at a distance and you have to to move on anyway you have to be able to be alive to the moment you have to be so aware of everything that is happening around you when I get something that reads on screen the way it was unfolding in reality it's still magic they're always gonna miss something but it's okay what you need to get you'll get there even animal physical phenomena Michel Michel well just say to be honest when the specials one thing I wish lacy clapped I've been doing popping a comedic me dole Ishmael yes ASL guru blades he told on violet cast me in which he knows he fast journal so now but the Poisson booth is on ecology come back in this deviancy in a Madonna danisha rock up obvious comic a lousy ideas remediate my lesson was chavita the Portuguese were conveyed through Bailey to the school bizarre events fast the film of each share who's the fastest Aprilia Australia's gas can say years iam going change question towards the dead for photography a Millman Roy firma firma de aproximadamente kappa swarthy mean you put your your colored in Paulo Filho bicycle see some coffee please attach it is restless so naturally before I think the access you go in with this often not the same access you come out with anyway just by your presence your friendships your behavior you hope that the trust and the access deepens you have superficial access but it's your job to then make it deeper and deeper and deeper to people and their what they're feeling but also often higher and higher and higher in the hierarchy because people in power are always so reluctant to be filmed even once Kofi Annan said yes all the worker bees didn't want to know anything about me but there was one person who was key to me and and she was a woman who was going to lead a peacekeeping operation over to the Congo and even she said to me she said I know I know why you're here and I don't want have anything to do with you I don't want to be filmed I don't think what we do is public it doesn't help me that you're here and I'm gonna make it as hard as I can to make it impossible for you to film and I said okay her name was Meg Kerry and I said okay Meg well there we go I mean I'm not gonna leave and and we headed off to the Congo the next week and it took about a year for Meg – come on side but eventually she did and eventually Meg became the film and she became my conduit inside this extremely complex organization taken by the government for Savarkar Tony if a compound elongation for compound coming it's about kalila long ganja keep t dollars and our sheykh person this was completely PO compound it's not important I feel me and I actually do not like meeting people before I you know if I'm going to film with them I do not even go through any organizations or any contacts at ground level I just go to the area 90% of the people I've interviewed in the film are people I've never met in my life before I decided not to use microphones and lights and you know any kind of intrusive equipment I shoot with a tiny handy cam aimed at sort of making the person who I'm with completely comfortable safe was it ghazan prof is a tough as local car the vivid kavaja yeah a hug a kiss assures a húsavík crude coupon scoobsie unfair mcc bar exact tomorrow context my coupon Calcasieu yeah crew ski pass a it was having said if you make one it his past record good news Norton was rapport with your arms huh football with the energy was cool kasa film la cámara e Louise a suppose suppose occurs retinol Emma Pascal seizure attention RP v Domini much huh boo boo boo reshape represses estaba ski toughest america contractionary policy policy no please mr. Pretlow don't approve a policy fatigue me yes toshiaki Ella I teach arrow to see no senator Tamaki fake yet your vans yella neccessity a delish Rose I'm following something I'm not gonna a river I'm following it I don't know where it's going and that's the scary side of it because I think you know maybe I won't get a story maybe things won't happen but the sort of wonderful side of it is that you could be somewhere in it it all starts happening and you're filming it to Berlin in homie tight let me go there's a scene where there's this little boy Ben and you can see that he's very very quiet because he's in love with his mom and he doesn't want to move and you can see that she's already disengaged she's already going on and wanting to leave and go back to her own life and you can see that the social workers rather cross with her because she's late and because she knows she doesn't really want to be there and she's already moved on so you can see these three things I'm hoping the audience in that one scene will see it for more different points of view and I think the only way that that can happen is if the scene isn't controlled there's a kind of looseness to it so you can put yourself into it so they're long shots that hopefully the audience can put themselves into you're constantly having to be aware that you shouldn't interfere with the action so your body cannot get in a way of the door or the relationship with someone else in the room or you have to be careful that your presence is again to block somewhere they might go and I like the lack of communication I like the fact that that's just me working that out so I know what I want from that person I know how maybe I'm going to sit with Thurmond hanger to shoot with them the nightmare is obviously being a cameraman as a whole job in itself for quite a complicated job and there's a lot that can go wrong the feeling of holding a camera and being part of a scene and reacting and responding to a scene each just thrilling and that is the secret that camera people never tell that the joy is in the shooting I don't think the way most cinematographers do getting a wide shot and a close-up and a reaction shot and so forth I see things the way I would as a person and I think that helps the process for the person who watches it to feel a greater closest to what's going on I'll be opening singer salesman just such a perfect kind of forecast of what's the complan which parent plan would be the best for you the a B or C also such a perfect revelation of my camera work at its best in the middle of that little scene you see the child on the mother's lap yawning and then it seems that it's exactly the right moment but my moment totally chosen by the child not by me she goes over to the piano and knocks out a tune that Beethoven couldn't have created more appropriately for the mood in the kind of shooting that I do the smaller the team the the better able you'll be to you know not interfere with the process that you're trying to shoot so I think you know it's best if the person who is the director is either doing sound or shooting and not just standing around and conducting which you know I just would want that person to be out of the room my cosa más agua cuando 2cn tequila's sensibility to camera la misma que la tuya yeltsin edita cuando los tres esta you need Oh por un cable invisibly a fantastic opening ah Munira komal just immediate era nombre extraordinariness enthusiasm talent Oh Ferraro Ito durante la chienne to the gambia most películas ideas l McEntire cosas que le gustaría said yo elegant Allah means ego in Syria more in position I think when you work with the camera person the difficulty I'm sure for every director is that the camera person has to be your eyes you know and you have to have a certain trust in them I work with Claire pieman who's a dutch camera woman and we've worked together now for about fourteen years while I create and imagine a lot of scenes finally it's up to Claire to see it the way I see it and don't ask why I wanted a very particular way of filming the scene when I know she is walking through the bazaar and they're all these men you know staring at her I'd explained it to Claire she shot it for me she showed it to me and she said is this what you want and I said No I told her that I really wanted it to be more threatening more like people are really looking at her and watching her and I wanted to get a lot of faces in and so on and then she was able to create that for me the campus is confined to what they see in here I'm looking at the broader horizon I'm seeing what's happening outside the frame and I'm directing them to the things that I want to see and with a really good camera person and I've had very good relationships with very very good people it becomes a tango becomes a dance you know your your your your whispering in their ear that really if they'll just a little to the right you know that's really where would it be and they'll find two faces there and you know so it's it's a it's a process of literally directing the shot and so that's a very important component for me as well the visual sense four bones the force Heather and I were trying to give you an experiential sense of the beauty and grandeur and subtlety of the old-growth forest so you could actually feel for yourself and how important they were to say and in order to express that fully it seemed that they needed to go outside the usual palette of just solid standard nature shots you know we wanted to actually show you also the time of the forest you know which it has its own pace so time-lapse photography was part of that it's not eye candy it's not just special effects it's really about trying to break through pattern thinking and allow as a fresh perspective on something I do think that not nearly enough emphasis put on the visual side of filmmaking of documentary filmmaking because the story is so important and the people who tend to make documentaries are I mean they're the high priests of that of that issue and they're just so swept up by the by the rightness of the issue that they forget the dare they gotta tell a story and I gotta tell a story to people who don't care nearly as much about this subjects they do many of my colleagues were working to give the information I was really really careful about where I filmed those people and when I film them and I had spent so much time at the UN building in New York that I knew at four o'clock in the afternoon on a certain kind of weather day if I put Meg in this room there the light would be good on her and I would only film her at that time because I knew she was going to give me the same kind of material whether we filmed her at 8 o'clock in the morning or 4 o'clock at night in this better light so why not make the effort to film it when the light was just right what am I doing wrong that I'm not being able to convince these member states that they need to provide the troops necessary to save these lives you're presenting a palette of colors for the editor so that he or she can really edit with pacing and with the abstract rather than the literal and then you're really then you're really storytelling there is one shot and a place called Chiapas and it's done by a wonderful Mexican cinematographer by the name of Eduardo Herrera Marco says the Zapatista movement is in fact more about ideas than bullets the entire press corps is parked on the edge of the riverbank and where does a Bardot put himself and his camera right in the middle of the river he swings to reveal 50 photographers and so there's a huge payoff he's a beginning a middle and an end and a sense of humor to the shot there's a place for great art in all of this [Applause] I read this book it's about two men on a mountain and I said this is such a wonderful subject for a documentary but how the hell do you do it you you couldn't mean that story as a fiction film either and people been trying for many years and Tom Cruise for instance had the rights and lots of different people had the rights and nobody had managed to make a fiction film out of it because again it's all internal and documentary is wonderful for the internal because you know people love to talk in the documentary so so I thought well the only way to do this is to combine some elements of drama with elements of documentary and but I was so nervous about doing that that was the real challenge how do you get reconstruction that really matches up to reality especially matches up to this extraordinary story flooding down my thigh my knee was very very very painful the reenactment is not reenacting anything it's there to make you think about reality about what we take to be reality what we think is reality what claims to be reality because the whole time we're screwing around and not doing a damn job Americans are dying standard operating procedure is a movie with three ingredients one of them is interviews with real people the second ingredient is the photographs photographs that were taken in Abu Ghraib in the fall of 2003 the third element is reenacted material bits and pieces detail I like going after odd details and he was told he would be electrocuted if he fell off and those are constructive but underneath all of it is this pursuit of some truth when you open your newspaper or you hear a news report you just get the facts and the way in which things actually happen is is very complicated and circumstantial and comes out of so many different influences I think in a film like baliphar Haditha you try and recreate all that so you create many layers hopefully of understanding that you don't get from the news reports in other media in the wrong hands that's quite dangerous which is when you recreate with real people who come with all that sort of extraordinary behavior when people have been in a situation they know how to behave and I mean I think battle for Haditha is absolutely brilliant and I think thank god it's Nick doing it because as a technique it's quite dangerous to recreate reality because it's so seductive you really truly believe that is what happened if reality programs are borrowing a sexy packaging of fiction and fiction is borrowing the immediacy and excitement of documentary and news as we know I don't know where that's going then it's so confusing for people to know what is or isn't truthful in the end and what is whose view and what actually happened or didn't and I just think it's something we should be careful of and just sort of speak more about the fact that there is this real crossover Sebastiani you could be that of the collectivity the medieval savoir the cinema deficient dance offensive boku wa sallahu wa boku mo mata charismatic Mata Pascal odourless patata South Division settle there keep out the severity dance on imaginary become the cinema document I can move less officio is an imaginary the yeah live refrigerator for me the distinction between feature films I mean narrative feature films and documentaries doesn't exist that much for me it's all movies and the bladder line is quite often blurred in documentaries I keep inventing I keep using my fantasy I invent dreams named madhumatl a true cinema a cassette sit LEDs Masterson oligarchy for developers I filmed were two vessels from popular language on acid affair a subtly Flav exists on the world the song I think the sound is like the the heartbeat of a film if the sound isn't good then the films thin and you know the sound is where you get the emotion of a film I mean with hold me tight let me go that classrooms are so noisy and you look at it and you don't maybe appreciate what Mary's done because her sounds so good people just accept it you can hear everything everybody's saying they're all on different sides of the room and there's always kids screaming in the room at the same time but you can hear everything really truly and the film would be unwatchable if it hadn't mean for Mary it's okay to feel like you need to let us help you and also they have to be so strong I mean she's kind of you know like a ballet dancer getting close to everybody following everything watching me we're working together it's a whole skill you know which which people don't often notice one of the things that's really an error in the way things are going these days is that people actually think that a sound recordist is disposable and that you can do it yourself or your poor camera person who is supposed to be framing and making sure that the world is in focus and lit properly is supposed to take this on or god forbid the director do it [Laughter] when we start off with an awareness of sound as an important aspect of the overall film and leave space for it and anticipate it and work it in while we're picture editing the marriage of the two can become quite profound and can move us to much deeper places it can tell another level of the story and sound takes us to deep places in a way that scent does for example sound triggers emotions sound triggers memory so we can really hit people at a deep level with sound one of my favorite pieces of sand in touching the void is the sound of the crevices it should be something that's scary but something that also has a human tone to it we played around with all these different sounds eventually one day at the standards that came to me and said you know I've got this great sound for you to listen to this is this underlying sand for the crevasse isn't he played him I thought wow that's very speaking Mesa dice what is it and he said that's the sound of a leopard roaring slowed down 50 times so it was this wonderful animal sound but it felt so deep and profound and kind of frightening but but mournful at the same time I knew before we went to China that I wanted the design to emerge out of the industrial soundscape that we were going to be immersed in so we gathered an enormous amount of wild sound and I wanted the density of that industrial soundscape to be apparent in the film but also that sometimes melody or rhythm would emerge from that sounds giving you couldn't tell it my hearing is this music or is it just you know the rhythm of some hammer or machine and then it would go back down into that soundscape and come out and go down without ever only a few times emerging as a clear distinct element before subsuming itself back down into the sound j15 we operated music a la we own a typo parts could pass la-la-land that your team are looking out there fakers in America support man the music sacred music don't don't least pass the document Arizona sacred even our genetic potential music say listen ask she became much far down in music lots of cities modular because I even impress you celebration is sparse partly document as well oppression is say the realist mercy in the realist vida que la Vera fellow I really love music and I think more more documentary are starting to think that you don't have to be purist about it that you can like all other aspects of cinema that audiences really need an oral scape as well as a kind of visual escape [Applause] I don't like music that is supposed to tell you what to think but I do like music that creates a bed where things are driven forward the soundtrack to the thin blue line is I think one of the best things that Philip has ever done it is essential to them you know why did I make this kid I don't know why this is a nonfiction filmed war that idea of an eggs or ability the idea of being trapped in a web of fate those ideas are really driven home by the soundtrack by Philip Glass score creo que ni Qian fatties are una lección dramatic opponent early in Sima musica Romantica a que tener mucho cuidado Mucha prevents iya y para la dose if occasioned a samosa donde vas air caca me gusta la moon Cyril Ignacio porque una musica porque su Manos TM blonde yo Don Toto camel a decir elite ambien in symbolizes at Imola memorial el pasad music is an integral element of storytelling of changing and in guiding our perspectives our emotional perspectives but not only emotional it gives new perspectives new new insights a different kind of vision positions envelope add music to him a dill depe / mg g so dreadful average enchanters May June depend on Pookie – Shan Shan VAP a comment on the parole articulate a sodon't cake choice key to a sortie the trip duration – zoo – Swampert says Tampa mayor mayor to the mayor to the mayor – luxury travel is unfortunate wha I saw on TV et Ossa de foie de couleur the fertility stairs defer to tributary sample show were fairly short amount calluses on Fed voila – tree hugger so large the music creates unifying shape but a part of sound of course is narration and I think it's a phenomenally powerful element it's it's the voice of a storyteller and what could be wrong with being told a story narration in documentary films sometimes it's a very beautiful element and and most times it's a it's a prosthesis it's a like crutches you know it's like to help you know tell the story without having the images you know because you don't have the images so you have to tell what's happening you know instead of showing and showing it so it's better than telling you know I do get annoyed when I hear people say oh we don't want narration you know like or they hire you as a narration right here and they say well we didn't really want narration but we wanted to bring you in because we got some problems in the storytelling you know there's wealth in don't use narration if you don't like it don't use it but if you use it love it and it can be beautiful it can be the invocation to a dream I think of narration as being a voice in your ear I was always telling you a story our like so many other boys dreaming of being an RAF pilot and which is very different way to think of it than a booming voice of God or from a public poem about what's right and wrong in war I will write things and then we'll start to assemble scenes right to the scenes and then we'll go the other way around we'll use the writing as a guide to the scenes it's a dance back and forth the editing is really underrated skill it's like a puzzle this is important that's important that's going to throw away the rest creating a story where there really is no story I've never ever trusted the process I sit in the Edit absolutely all the time but then you say well what does that how do I do as a kind of mind game and that's one definition of a lie endings a tricky shaping and sculpting reading together B on G and it's sometimes extremely painful and you have to massage the material over and over over and over over and over again until it looks so simple that everybody will say well what took you so long and it's the despair I get to think you go through almost every time you make a make a documentary you come back and you see your rushes and they seem such poor pathetic things and you think this isn't the film I wanted to make and then you have to figure out well what is the film that's in there what's speaking to you about it is Russia's here the biggest problem you find in the cutting room is that that usually the crater the director is not willing to accept that shadow that gap between their intentions and what the material gives them your allegiance eventually transfers from your memory of the event to what you have captured on film and and once that it that that transfer takes place that's when editing really starts to happen when you know okay this is the the finite universe I have to deal with there is a most processor the the con otra persona Stossel amendable una otra persona gets to personae confianza remark todo ESO y saber que todo lo castle mal tomar una vida diferente pillowcases la cabaña gusta see a montage there's times when you're working on something and you think gosh it would have been amazing if I had known that first and that's what I try to do in the film was try to create the ideal journey and replicate those moments that were really memorable along the way of making the film you look at the elements that you've got and you figure out you know how to literally have a former braid out of those elements that will allow each strand to inform the other and to keep rien gauging the audience's interest in the moment when we first met you know the age difference was a big problem for me your interweaving material to create a more complicated and yet enlightening result I don't think my films are made in the cutting room I think the cutting room is more a place where you simplify material and you find themes and arguments that run through the material and clear in a sense the brush from it so that they become more obvious here with the peacekeepers there were so many different ways to go with that film in the editing room that for the first couple of months we struggled because we were putting way too much into it I mean I had a whole history of the Congo and Mobutu and how it got to this point that there was a civil war and all of that stuff and in the end nobody cared they didn't care they just cared about they cared about Meg you may not want to deal with them and they may have committed all sorts of human rights abuses but unfortunately you have to deal with them because they're the ones with the power what people need a human being that can lead them through a kind of political psychological logistical minefield and once Meg came on-screen the film came alive and all of these this this other stuff that we had thrown in there about the history of the Congo and how it got to this point people didn't care but we couldn't make them care about it you have to be able to dump very good footage and not put it fitted in in the film somehow just dump it because it doesn't fit into that movie it's it feta montage of Latin tinge to our meaty listen lagina really sort of pale orangey a wee room any plea for Simone Conte vote is 12 Activision bonsoir this case is no more no longer about Kathleen the DEA has to win that's it who are three women pass here getting Peterson 83 you see an action no ill offenders it is tois eventually comes a valley de saucé report on civil facility a school a school that gravity unit will net on their oral ability entirely personal level et d12 she sort of sake frighten the film is going to reveal itself out of the unexpected moments not out of what you planned not when you were working with pencil and paper it's going to come out of things that that took you by surprise and that you maybe even forgot in the in the whole well tour of shooting as you put two things together in the editing tables you like iced as possible and then it's on in front of a thousand people and they all go oh no I sometimes think of a movie is a sausage casing and you're trying to ram as much meat into that sausage as you possibly can but there are limits then you have to stop there's a dream of actually influencing the world in some way writing some wrong correcting some evil it's the documentarian is possible superhero know the guy who who fixes the bad stuff the films that we make are our teachers I mean there are teachers and then we sort of surrender to them Saddam Evie I should shoot you the experience with lose the booty Peter see that what control the potential Arabic this is service just daily policy yeah but I say different you know I often say to people that dumb the answer to life is becoming a documentary filmmaker if you you know if you want to solve all your life's problems become a documentary filmmaker because it offers you everything if you look at just the number of titles that have been playing theatrically the people are really talking about the stylistic breadth of those films is really widened develop there's a lot more inventiveness in terms of what's accepted new types of distribution systems have been developed with the advent of the internet everybody now literally is a documentary filmmaker or anybody with a cell phone you can imagine anything more important than portraying with a very truthful epic fashion what's really going on see come on who the boy Jarek heavy you cannot feel my an old from post padded Castillo de amor que pueden ser una película Luca Enrique sudoko no personal cos y que nunca Maha and on an – we went on television La Mesa a montage love a chaos early on de de uno para una lucha he knows the word resent oh no hemos the comer experience I've been able to be in so many situations that are not part of my life not only be there but have to make some sense of it for somebody else she's not going to be that that I really love that still as much fun to me as it was day one [Applause] you

10 Replies to “The Art of Documentary Filmmaking (2008)

  1. I myself am trying to put a documentary together. It is hard when others wont believe in what your doing (especially family). But watching this has help motivate me to go on, not give up. Because it IS a story worth telling. Still a long road ahead before it becomes a reality, Though I am glad I found this upload. Thank you 'Manufacturing Intellect'. Inspired to comment from what Jennifer Fox said at 10:40 in.

  2. thanks you all so much for those who produced this doc, those who shared all these experiences and hopes, and for the chanel to provide this amazing work. Thanks a lot, and I'll surely be inspired for other videos and subjects that Manufacturing Intellect provides. Best wishes to us all!

  3. it was always my metier, but you have to go into business. and to do that, I would have to have given up my life. So now: I write, photograph, shoot video sometimes… but the core of the documentary eye, becoming nervous and euphoric when it meets some body or place which touches me, then I feel it again, the metier of filmmaking. That will always remain.

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