Skip to main content

Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, December 2005-January 2006

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

I used to think that producing a magazine was like birthing a child, without really appreciating what that metaphor meant. I would think about conception and nurturing and the long process an editor goes through in taking an assemblage of ideas; harnessing the talents of an editorial staff, an art department, an advertising sales team and, of course, a stable of writers; and emerging at the end with a full-bodied, living, breathing magazine that reflects the values and virtues of everyone who had a hand in creating it.

Well, I had a chance to test-drive that metaphor recently: I participated, first, in the creation, then in the delivery of my wife's and my baby daughter, born November 14, under a full, late-autumn moon--in the middle of producing this issue of the magazine. There, in the delivery room, was the team: the wife, the husband, two midwives, the midwife's apprentice, two residents, the nurse and the doctor. And there was the soundtrack, a soothing blend of India.Arie, Stevie Wonder, Erik Satie and Johann Sebastian Bach to countervail the huffing and puffing, the grunting and moaning, the final howling that ushered in this new, living, breathing life force.

In the post-partum haze that dominated the days that followed, I thought about the awesome wonder of a new human being and how, after thousands of generations, that sensation has never worn thin, even for the most skeptical and jaded among us. Before, parenthood was a distant notion for me, one that would surely encroach on the livelihood at hand. Now parenthood and livelihood are interlocking, creative forces, one nurturing the other. Like procreation and creation.

So what about this metaphor, then? Not all that striking, really, but as time-honored as, well, producing children--or works of art. Indeed, one of the 2005 IDA Career Achievement Award honorees, DA Pennebaker, tells writer Shelley Gabert in her piece about him and partner/fellow honoree Chris Hegedus, "I feel like making films is like trying to have children..." 

The IDA Awards honor many generations, from Pennebaker and Hegedus, Kate Amend and Joan Churchill--recipients of the inaugural awards for Outstanding Documentary Achievement in, respectively, Editing and Cinematography--who have passed on so much to so many of the next generation of documentary filmmakers, to Marshall Curry, the Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker honoree, and Maryam Keshavarz, whose film The Color of Love earned the IDA/David L. Wolper Student Documentary Achievement Award. Finally, there's the Academy Film Archive, which has earned a special recognition for Preservation and Scholarship. What better way to pay tribute to the passage of an art form from generation to generation than to salute those who strive to preserve this art form.


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White