Full circle ramble on docs & DC Shorts Docs

TONIGHT TONIGHT TONIGHT – DC Shorts Film Festival Documentary Showcase Can’t wait to see what the filmmakers brought.

The DC Shorts Film Festival has been pretty good to us.  As Becky mentioned below, we went to the free filmmaker seminars last week.  The one on fund-raising was probably most interesting to me.  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that as a documentary filmmaker, we could apply for grants to make our own films, but seriously, it didn’t.

The Angry Filmmaker also gave a couple of talks – on how to make a film without a budget, and how to advertise and get noticed.  The film making on a budget stuff seemed a little more relevant to narrative film making than docs to me – but the marketing stuff was a real eye-opener.  He had some great ideas on marketing that I thought were not just applicable to our future films, but to the “Doc & a Drink” blog as well. I kept looking over at Becky every time I had a note – only to find that she had written down the same thought. Very exciting. Plans for the future!

What I thought was strange was the reaction to most of the people in the room when he was trying to encourage them to call and talk to people and ask for stuff.  “You have to ask, or you don’t get,” he said, and Becky and I just looked at each other – working in the doc world,  cold-calling is probably the easiest part of my job.  I’d never get experts in our films if I didn’t call and find out more about their work and ask them to participate.  I guess it’s different when it’s docs?  In a way, when you call as a doc filmmaker you are saying, “I’m interested in your work and I’d like to help you tell people about it.”  But for me, it’s kind of the reason I work in documentaries to begin with – is I’m interested in what people are doing and I love getting to know all about folks.  If I’m into something, my instinct is to call and find out more about it.  It’s kind of the BEST part of my job.  And it’s why I like watching docs – so I can see someone’s perspective on other stuff I didn’t know about.

Journalism is often necessarily impersonal, so it’s easy to dismiss what happens in the world as not having an effect.  Numbers and facts aren’t always the easiest thing to internalize.  I *knew* there was a war in Liberia, but I didn’t really *understand* it until I saw “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.”  I *knew* who Robert McNamara was, but I didn’t internalize past events and what we could learn from it until I watched “Fog of War.”  Film making is necessarily a personal journey – the filmmaker has a point of view, as do the participants in a film…there’s a lot of the world that can open up to you when you watch these films.  Film making has the power to make big and small events personal.  This can be skewed, so you have to keep your own sense when you watch docs, but you have to do that when you hear anyone’s personal story.

So I’m excited to see the Short Docs tonight and what the filmmakers are able to introduce in a few minutes.  I like short docs a lot.  It’s a good way to present stories that aren’t necessarily enough to fill a whole feature, but should still be told.

If you are interested in attending – go to: DC Shorts Film Festival.




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