Thursday, March 31, 2011

A dilemma: my voice vs. the audience

Two weeks ago when I started making the short documentaries and video diaries following the earthquake and tsunami, I was less worried about who the audience was for my work and was simply doing what felt right.

With the great honor of having my videos forwarded, linked and promoted on other websites (and by extension to have the people viewing my work go beyond just my family and friends) I have begun to feel this strange need to try to be unbiased and to not present any personal views.

But, alas, I am a filmmaker and not a journalist.

Why, then, have I had such a struggle with how to edit the material for my newest short documentary, "Mission: Ishinomaki"? To put this struggle into context, I would like to share with you part of the e-mail I sent along with this latest video to a colleague.

I am aware that it may teeter on the edge of activism, but I assure you that I have tried to be as measured and as unbiased as possible. I am, however, not a journalist and so my feelings regarding the situation do, I believe, seep through.

I understand fully that if I am viewed as an activist then I will lose half my audience as they won't be able to trust me or my point-of-view.

I did not set out to and hope I did not make a promotional video for any specific charity. And to that point, I really struggled with the title card at the end. Should I put the charity information there? How should it be worded? In the end, I simply wrote "for more information" and didn't use the words "to make a donation" as I felt if people wanted to donate, they could come to that conclusion on their own.

Sorry for all of the explanation. I realize that if the video needs this much contextualization, that you may not be able to publish it, and I understand that. As you can see, I am still struggling with the issue of "audience".
Now that I have uploaded the video, I wonder even more: Did I make the right decision? What will the viewers think?


Pat said...

Ian, this is an amazing video, you captured so much here and I love how you included various people and showed us the schools. You made the right decision. Makes me want to donate more and I shall.

Joe said...

Ian, I just watched this and didn't feel at all that you were promoting one organization at all. It felt to me very neutral on that topic, but chock full of information and experiences from being there. I applaud you and the brothers for doing this, and think you made an excellent choice on how to present this documentary.