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The toughest thing I’ve found about making documentaries hasn’t had anything to do with the production aspects. It’s always been with festival boards. I’ve made enough doc’s to make them interesting enough to watch. Whenever I’m able to get any of them in front of an audience so far it has always been the subject matter that has sparked debate not any technical foibles which is as it should be. The difficulty is getting stuff past those (when you can’t say anything nice…) festival boards. Man, if your film isn’t the ‘flavor of the month’ or reach the board participants specific tastes, fuggeddaboutit! If I see one more doc about starving kids in africa with AIDS and so on…. Not that it isn’t an important subject, but it isn’t the only subject out there.
The whole purpose of documentary filmmaking is to ‘document’ a subject and present it in the visual medium. Those subjects can involve anything, but since the primary place for screening docs is film festivals if you have to start making your film’s to what you think a review board will accept, that defeats the whole purpose of making a doc. That’s one of the reasons you keep seeing the same thing over and over. Doc’s may be information inspired works, but they ultimately have to be ‘marketable’ in order to reach an audience. You’re piece can be a flawless work of filmmaking that touches the heart and enlightens the mind. But, if some festival board or distributor doesn’t think it will sell, no one will see it.