Planting ideas through images; the making of a documentary.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Making Room for What Happens

One of the ways in which joining a CSA changes your life, is that you are confronted each week with things you hadn't anticipated. Normally one goes to a produce section with a list, or your eyes jump to certain familiar vegetables: carrots, celery, tomatoes. You may not even see other choices, because our brains are highly developed to screen out everything but what we deem relevant.

In a CSA box, you find chard or turnips or raddichio, and then you must work these into your life, in some way, and your palate widens.

This is true also of documentary. I've been thinking about fiction and reality. Over the last several decades, the fiction of reality has fascinated and rattled documentary films' claims to truth, in the circles I travel. The hand of the cameraperson and editor may well be invisible, but that doesn't mean it's inconsequential. A film is constructed, whether it is narrative or documentary. Those interviewed do perform, in many ways, for the camera, the persona that they want the camera to see.

But there is a difference, and while it's hard to define, exactly, it's like finding radishes in your CSA box. Things happen, things you didn't anticipate, and you are challenged to change your ideas of your subject and your film to accommodate them.

That is very true in this film, Dirty Work. I wanted to say one thing and ended up with another.

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