May 18, 2018

Essential Doc Reads: Week of May 14

From Tommy Haines, Andrew Sherburne and John Richard's 'Saving Brinton.'

Essential Doc Reads is a weekly feature in which the IDA staff recommends recent pieces about the documentary form and its processes. Here we feature think pieces and important news items from around the Internet, and articles from the Documentary magazine archive. We hope you enjoy!

From Cineaste, Thomas Doherty examines three recent docs that make innovative uses of found footage.

A cluster of three like-minded documentaries, all spellbound before the big-screen spectacle of 35mm and 16mm formats, bids to rescue the cast-off canisters from the dumpsters of cinematic history: Bill Morrison's Dawson City: Frozen Time; Tommy Haines, Andrew Sherburne, and John Richard's Saving Brinton; and Robin Lung’s Finding Kukan. More than weepy eulogies to a vanishing art form, each is a meditation on the hypnotic allure of photographic imagery for the optic nerve and a testimonial to the chemistry—and the history—coating the film frames.

MovieMaker's Paula Schwartz talks with filmmaker Ondi Timoner about her transition from documentary to her first narrative, Mapplethorpe.

"It's interesting to spend so much time on the script. I counted recently; I had done 58 rewrites. And then to have it happen in 19 days is very odd because in documentary I would shoot, then go into post, and then shoot more. It goes back and forth, and in this case you have to get it at once. My documentaries always follow things unfolding and they're always suspense-driven narratives, so I didn’t want to do a retrospective. I really wanted to bring this incredibly charismatic character to life and make a bunch of impossible visionaries out of you and everybody else who sees it."

Michael Moore talks to IndieWire's Michael Schneider about the TBS reboot of Moore's 90s series TV Nation.

 "The things we do invoilve us finding doors and windows to avoid law enforcement. I don't run as fast as I used to. It's harder to avoid the people they call and send after us!"

From the Sundance Institute Blog, five filmmakers, including docmaker Rudy Valdez, assess the value of failure in their overall processes.

"I had a film that premiered at Sundance [in 2018]--a very personal film that I made over the course of a decade. Towards the end of the editing process I brought in some producers that I really, really admire and respect and trust. And there were some notes that came through that took me right away. And I thought, Okay, this is my gut check…I went home and I had to take all these collective inner failures and say, 'Look, I own this story. I've been working on this story for a decade and I'm the one who’s going to tell the story."

Entrepreneur analyses the next phase in video streaming: blockchain technology.

Current video-streaming offers have incrementally increased costs in order to store all that content out there and all those massive video files on servers. This has meant large margins for the controlling companies, and these expenses have trickled down to the content creators. Blockchain technology, however, promises to cut down these costs and give content creators direct access to their revenue. Blockchain also promises to offer "smart contract" technology, providing a multitude of avenues for video content to be stored and shared under a heavily encrypted and secure system

From the Archive, Winter 2018 Issue: "Beyond Evidence: Experimental Filmmakers Widen the Parameters of the Archive"

Though conventional documentary makers have diversified the range of materials used in docs since the days of the newsreel, many would be taken aback by more openly speculative use of archives. But in looking at the work of the filmmakers who participated in the UnionDocs workshop, it's clear that documentary's grounding as "real" and indexical allows for a wide range of stylistic experimentation.

In the News

Senate Votes to Halt Repeal of Obama Era Net Neutrality Rules


POV Launches POV Shorts


Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Announces Audience Awards


Award Winners of Taiwan International Documentary Festival Revealed  


Ambulance, Being Mum and Dad Take BAFTA TV Awards


Serial Case to Get Reopened in HBO Documentary