Navigating the Documentary World

Navigating the Documentary World

By Frances Huang

Today, we had a guest speaker at the office of Brave New Films. The director for Amy, the recent documentary about Amy Winehouse, Asif Kapadia, came and spoke with us for an hour. It was fascinating seeing the same person I saw at Cannes, when the film first premiered, and asking him questions in regards to his experiences with making documentaries.

I asked a question about what it is like to navigate the emotions of making a documentary, and finding ways to come to terms the position of power that documentarians often have to recognize, especially if they are asking for folks to reencounter periods of trauma. The answers I got were not very conclusive—which I didn’t expect them to be—and indicated that there is no way to learn about making documentaries than to make mistakes while making them. Regardless, it was cool to hear about a person of color filmmaker speaking passionately about his work while actively recognizing and pushing back on the power behind documentary filmmaking, as well as placing a high importance on the sound mix in a film.

Other than that, work has been pretty routine—I’ve become quite the machine at ingesting web clips and images, and navigating the workflow of editing stringouts. The subject matter will always be intense (we’re currently making a feature film about gun violence)—I have come to accept this—and although it will continue to be difficult every time I handle it, it is all extremely important and I know that I will pull through.