October 2009

Yikes. Its freezing in Lubbock! For some reason, I didn’t expect the west plains of Texas to ever be cold, at least not in October. Another presumption bites the dust. Just goes to confirm – you’ve got to experience things before you lock in assumptions about them. 2009 is proof that the Lubbock can be freezing and Seattle can be sizzling hot.

Jon and I are ensconced in an apartment near the Texas Tech football stadium, surrounded by college students. Just like old times. It’s been a great boon for me to be here. Few distractions, lots of time to work.

In addition to the release of For the Life of Me, we’re gearing up for the release of Silver Shorts, Vol. 1, a collection of my first four films: the adoption trilogy of The Triumvirate, Holding Hands, Vital Records, and the award-winning short, Breathing: the Mark Stanley Story. Big fun! I haven’t looked at them in a while, and each one brings back a slew of memories. The Triumvirate was just a student film, made while I was at New York Film Academy. That little film taught me so much – perhaps, most important, that you don’t have to be directly involved with adoption issues to be touched by them. The Triumvirate has invited many non-triad audiences to question closed records.

Each project has been a classroom. As I look at each film, I wonder how differently others might have cut it, what different perspectives they might have used to tell the stories. There are hundreds of choices in the editing, down to the individual frames of images as well as the additional elements of words, sounds, music. What would someone else do with the footage? What other stories lie within the hours of tape that should also have been told? And what different points of view might have changed the stories that were told to arrive at different conclusions?

I’m reminded that we can strive to be balanced in documentary work, but its impossible to be unbiased. From the questions asked, to the way in which subjects are filmed to the choices of cuts made, bias is there. Like a scientist trying to prove a theory, one starts off a documentary with an expectation of a certain conclusion, a desired summation, born of passion and personal experience. And then the movie takes you in new directions, leading to ephiphanies that you couldn’t have foreseen in the beginning

Being open to what each film ‘wants to be’ is the essence of the work. It’s, well, it’s like discovering that the Texas plains can be really cold in October. It’s a surprise, something that makes you ponder a good question: what else don’t I know that I thought I DID know? The answer lies through the lens of the camera, and through being open to what’s revealed in each frame…

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