Sunday, August 28, 2016

"101 in how not to make a documentary"

Day two of the Doc+ Workshop sponsored by 國家電影中心 Taiwan Film Institute and 台灣國際紀錄片影展 TIDF (Taiwan International Film Festival) was full of wonderful experiences. The morning and afternoon were spent in 30 minute individual meetings with the 8 teams whose documentaries were selected to take part in a "clinic" with the three guest filmmakers. I really enjoyed discussing more in depth with the young filmmakers about their projects and to offer them advice based on my experiences.

In the afternoon, my friends Panos, from Greece, and Mei, from Taiwan, stopped by for a visit with their two boys.  Panos, Mei and I were flatmates when we were attending the University of Bristol 13 years ago.  They met in our flat, fell in love, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Later in the afternoon was a screening of my first film "the ballad of vicki and jake" (2006, UK), which I myself had not seen for many years (film website HERE).  I selected the film to screen at this event specifically because it contains mistakes-- my mistakes-- from which I hoped young filmmakers could learn.  In the film criticism published by Matt Crowder in 2005 when the film first came out, he wrote (full article HERE):

"vicki and jake" is a 101 in how not to make a documentary. Ian and Ken threw themselves into this with the enthusiasm of people who had never made a feature documentary before. It shouldn’t have worked. Except it has.

It was a moving experience to watch the film again on the big screen after so many years, and to field deeply probing questions regarding the murky ethics surrounding the film from audience members who had so deeply engaged with vicki's story.

 The screening event was followed in the evening by my 2.5 hour (!) master class, which I called "Documenting the Documentary".  My talk was split into four parts:
  • "Self-reflection"
  • "Documenting vs Journalism"
  • "Technology in Documenting"
  • "Documentary subjects: forming relationships, maintaining boundaries"
And interspersed throughout I showed clips from my films ranging from my work documenting the disaster in Fukushima to my friend who died of breast of breast cancer and a hospice care doctor in Japan (FILMS).

My gratitude to all of the TFI and TIDF staff and volunteers as well as the amazing team of interpreters.


ithaca said...

Hi Ian, this is Grace Huang, the interpreter for the past three days. Thank you for the great talks and for being so generous and so willing to share. I thought that was so courageous of you, and I was deeply touched.

Adela said...

Hi, Ian,
I'm Adela, one of the audience for the past three days. I just wanna let you know how much I love your films and your speech. Thank you so much for bringing us the chance to be with Vicki and Jake, it might be a gloomy story but at the same time it's warm, sincere and honest. Also, there were several moments I felt so touched by your talk, the reflection you shared with us, the attitude you have during your filming and the way you build relationships with people all made me learned a lot. Hope you would come to Taiwan again, I'm definitely looking forward to it.