(Photo from set)
As I complete the last few shoots for “It Only Takes One Night,” my documentary short on Philadelphia boxer Joshua Jones, I have been reflecting on context within the documentary genre.
A lot is written of the personal investment a filmmaker has in personal documentary and essay film, whereas when it comes to non-fiction portraiture we focus on ethics.
Perhaps this is due to portraiture’s position in the economy of films as status quo, at times appearing not unlike journalistic communication, and thus somehow a-political. However the act of independent filmmaking is inherently political. For me the responsibility is to be elevating underrepresented characters, questions and communities with care.
The omission of myself as a filmmaker from my work is not a form of sidestepping accountability, but stems from a desire for connection – to connect my perception with another person’s – to portray intimately a space or person who has shown me something of the world outside of myself, and through process eventually of myself, and hopefully that process is replicated in some form for audience.
(Film still: It Only Takes One Night)
My conversations with mentors have been about process of late, about the messiness of process, the evolution of the film materially due to the unforeseeable factors of life, chance, money and time. But intention is valuable too. Crazy, blind devotion to your filmmaking intention for a project is what it takes to insert yourself into someone else’s space repeatedly, circling a person’s experiences towards greater meaning.I would love to have an engagement on that space between subject and filmmaker, putting a pin in ethics, to return to when needed.