Seven top documentarians recently joined Gold Derby’s “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with 2022 Oscar and guild contenders: Rachel Fleit (“Introducing Selma Blair”), Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine (“LFG”), Robert Greene (“Procession”), Jimmy Chin (“The Rescue”) and Ting Poo and Leo Scott (“Val”). This group of eclectic filmmakers revealed tricks of the trade, including why they got into this profession and how they know when to end a project, particularly if the story is ongoing.
You can watch the documentary group roundtable panel above with these seven creative helmers. Click on each person’s name above to be taken to their individual interview.
As for why Fleit loves working in the nonfiction field, she reveals, “I think for me it’s the way that you are able to see a person, to see yourself in that person. I’m totally a verite documentary filmmaker in that I like to see the beauty in the mundanity of life. I see myself in my characters, my subjects. I think that in making Selma’s documentary, I watched her embrace herself, I watched it unfold and her go through something so scary. And it was like she gave me permission to embrace myself.”
For the Fines, they admit they’re “relentlessly curious about people.” They never get tired of feeling like “it’s an honor to have someone sit in front of you that you’ve maybe met for a very little amount of time and they share just the most intense periods of their life with you. That’s a gift that we never take for granted. It’s like a promise that you make with them to go with that with honor.”
Greene chimes in that there’s a cliche with documentarians that they want to “change the world,” but he isn’t so sure. “I don’t know if that’s possible,” he notes. “I want to think it’s possible. I know that they can have a positive effect, certainly. But I know for sure that the films that we make change the lives of the participants on screen. I know for sure that when you film people, when you tell their stories, when you spend this time together, that it has an effect.”
Chin concedes that in order to get involved in a project, he first has to find it “really moving and inspiring.” He adds, “I’m often drawn to these types of stories where I’m totally inspired by the participants. They are part of the process. For some reason I’ve always felt compelled when I’m really moved or inspired by a story to share that story. It’s had a dramatic impact on me, trying to be the best version of myself. But we’re also accountable to these participants — we’re telling their stories.”
Finally, Poo and Scott agree that they’re “fascinated by people” and love getting “the opportunity to get to know people who are seemingly a lot different from me and yet discover that we’re not so different.” They conclude, “There’s nothing more powerful than watching a film about somebody who you seemingly have nothing in common with but then at the end of it be like, I am that person. These are real stories, these are real people, so it’s just wonderful to be able to make films about them.”
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