Thursday, May 29, 2014

Documentary: Mode Activity 2

There was a substantial learning curve in store for me as I headed into this project with a concrete idea for an expository documentary piece.  First of all I got to encounter the roadblock of reality not matching up with my preconceived story.  I simply didn't get the reactions or the shots that I had in mind, because the illustrative moments I was counting on didn't happen.  But secondly I got the experience, appropriate for an expository project, of determining what story did exist in the footage I had captured, and of finding a way to be as transparent as I could with my audience about the whole experience.  Despite an appearance of "honesty" or disclosure in this piece, I still had power over what was included and excluded, so it was enlightening to see how something that can appear so raw can still be so thoroughly constructed. (Though frankly- half-constructed here; my audio and transitions are awfully rough.)

My original concept here was to be clever and explore the process of watching a documentary.  I was planning on an animated subject, giving me somewhat explosive, highly charged responses that would be easy to inject the meanings of my choice into.  Instead I got the most solemn and still face I've ever seen on my subject (Mary Ila) for the entire hour duration of the film she watched.  I had to figure out what to do with it, and since I was already intending to create something reflexive, I got to be reflexive about the process of filming and interviewing her (and even the process of trying to interview myself, which - sheesh.) It seems like this "what went wrong" formula may be likely to surface in expository documentaries, as it becomes the most available vehicle for constructing a story when your original plan falls through.

So ultimately I suppose I've created a cautionary tale here about interviewing the hearing impaired. There are certainly complications revealed here about the process that I didn't think to anticipate before I began the interview. Ultimately that experience of realizing what it is you don't know while you're on your feet, trying to create something, is really kind of stunningly informative; a most thorough way to learn.

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