Doc Talk

Three: Impressions From the Struggle for Girls' Education (Nepal::Trailer) from NonFiction Media on Vimeo.

A note about the film:
Above is a trailer/teaser from Amy & Scott's work with Little Sister's Fund. This is a fabulous organization who is using education to eradicate poverty in Nepal. Educating females has far-reaching impacts to the local community and in that area of the world, it takes less than $3,000 send a girl to school....for 12 years. Click here to read more about Little Sisters Fund and their work.

A little known secret about me: I hate TV.

Film commonly associated with the American cultural identity drives me crazy. Don't even get me started on prime time TV in America. (I can live with out "reality TV" and news that is compromised by advertisers.) And for me, big budget entertainment offers little value. Car crashes, pyrotechnics, and special effects are gratuitous. I can provide my own adrenaline rush, thank you very much.

But documentary work is another story entirely. The lens brings you deep into the lives of others, probing, questioning, and creating a forum for dialog. Documentary filmmakers tackle the issues, frame it, and visually and bring it back to you. The more I learn about the process, I am in awe...and intrigued.

When I had the opportunity to sit in on a discussion with documentary filmmakers who just returned from Kathmandu, Nepal, I jumped at the chance...and got far more than I bargained for.

Amy Benson and Scott Squire of Nonfiction Media went to Nepal to produce a film for Little Sister's Fund. Fulfilling that objective, they stayed on in Nepal to gather more footage, and shoot for a longer piece. Thier blog documents trip preparations, challenges faced on site, and hours of editing. Whether you're "into" documentary work, or not, it's worth taking a look at their gear...and what it takes for this kind of trip. Gearhead love here, here, and here.

Scott and Amy have an infectious spirit...and delving in to the process of making the film, they laid it all out on the line...the good, bad, and ugly of making a documentary. Sponsorships, fundraising, assembling gear, framing the story, research, power challenges (solar, battery, etc.), and on it goes. On-site translation was particularly challenging. Once their work was finally translated, they found dialog that was off-topic or incredibly mundane. Amy explained that during an overnight visit, living in one of the huts, they later discovered the dialog was focused entirely on...the stranger in their home. "Do you think she likes rice?" "How much does she eat?"

Having been a fan of documentaries for a number of years, it was fascinating to hear their take on the situation. How does a project of that scale go from idea to concept to final, finished product? Does the end product resemble what you hoped for? Every project involves compromise. What did you compromise on...and what do you wish you hadn't compromised? What did you learn, good or bad, that changed the way you'd handle things next time?

The event was open to the public, but the demographic was predominantly filmmakers. So when Amy slid in a tip about an upcoming weekend...filmmakers discussing their work, challenges, and showing works in progress...I made a note. Later, I discovered the event is also open to "enthusiasts" and jumped at the chance.

So this weekend, I'm off to DocFarm.

I'm on a fact-finding mission...trying to figure out how I want to document my own round-the-world trip. Photo, film, or book? While I've been knee-deep in research over the past few months...this weekend adds another layer to that exploration.

The truth is, my only film experience includes a completely forgettable part in a movie that somehow ended up at Sundance (my character-- added at the casting call--might be credited as "girl in the theater.") And this one. Neither experiences add up to anything on par with this crowd, so I'll just keep my mouth shut...and absorb all I can.

Along the way, I'm going to stop and see my friends at Taylor Shellfish Farm. They're bringing in the harvest and I'm going to snap some photos. Stay tuned. It's going to be a very busy weekend and hopefully I'll come back with lots of scoop!

In case you're interested, here's a look at the presentations for this weekend:

The Real Dirt on Farmer John: Editing 50 Years of Personal History into 90 Minutes

Click Whoosh and Ars Magna: Mastering the Short Documentary Format in Five Grueling Days

On Native Soil: Licensing Media for a Nationally Broadcast Feature Documentary

Your Clips: An Evening of Documentary Film Discovery

Your Work in Progress: Soliciting Feedback

A Wink and A Smile: Nurturing Subject Intimacy While Respecting Privacy