May 1, 2002

Documentary Filmmakers Need to be Documented!

The IDA wants YOU! The IDA is embarking upon an exciting and valuable new program to document the lives and careers of documentary filmmakers—an oral history project. We in the documentary community know well the importance of documenting the lives of both the famous and the overlooked. In the same way that our films are in danger of deteriorating and fading away, the knowledge and experiences of documentary filmmakers will also be lost to future generations unless we move to record them now. Your thoughts and ideas should become part of the historical record, not only as a supplement to your own films, but as part of the history of documentary filmmaking as well. Now it's time for you to step across to the other side of the camera, and let us document your life and times.

It's one thing for researchers and scholars to study the works of a filmmaker. It's helpful if there are accompanying paper documents. It's better if there are printed interviews. But perhaps the best (and rarest) study aid is seeing a filmmaker in the flesh, talking about his/her films and career. We speak to the world with moving images, so it's only natural that we appear in our own medium to explain and illuminate our work.

These interviews will be conducted in a straighforward, low-tech style, with mininal crews, and very basic setups. Our goal is to keep it simple. The interviews will take place wherever it's convenient for you—at your home or office. The length and depth of the interview is dependent on your availability and interest.

Some interviews have already been done, including those with filmmakers Gary Conklin and Oscar® winner Robert Snyder. This program is not only for IDA members; all documentarians are invited to participate.

A word about rights: these interviews will be used for research purposes only. The interview tapes will be jointly owned to the IDA and the filmmaker, and will be deposited at the Academy Film Archive as part of the IDA collection. In the event any researcher or filmmaker wants to use any portion of material for anything other than for research or study, the subject's permission will be required.

Interviews will take place in the Los Angeles area. If you live in the Los Angeles area, or are plannning to be in the LA area, let us know, and we'll discuss getting your life on tape. If you are interested, contact Melissa Disharoon, IDA’s Managing Director, at melissa@documentary.org.

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