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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, Spring 2014

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

Over the past decade and a half, an increasing number of American filmmakers have ventured abroad, often to dangerous and volatile regions, to seek out and follow stories that might not otherwise get told. Indeed, with the consolidation of the news media infrastructure and a concurrent scaling back of long-form, on-the-ground journalism over the past decade, documentary makers have worked hard to fill that void. With the advantage of cost-efficient equipment and skeletal crews of one or two people, docmakers can be both nimbler and less conspicuous, and more inclined to commit to a longer period of time to both get the story and, more crucially, cultivate the trust of their subjects in order to get a deeper, richer, more nuanced story.

Making your film abroad takes a fair amount of preparation and precaution, and in this issue, we talk to filmmakers who have been there and back about what you need to know. Suzanne Curtis Campbell shares two articles — one about working with crews, translators, expeditors and fixers; the other about shooting in dangerous places — and solicits the advice and wisdom of filmmakers Jehane Noujaim, Ross Kauffmann, Rachel Beth Anderson, Marilyn Ness, Sebastian Junger and Linda Goldstein Knowlton about how to safeguard your equipment and footage-and how to survive.

No one understands risk quite like those in the risk business, and the staff at  ProSight Specialty Insurance share some valuable tips about knowing the territory where you'll be filming and securing the right insurance policy for you, your crew and your doc.

Also featured in this issue are dispatches from abroad. Ramona Diaz shares her impressions of Morocco, where she screened her film Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey to a diverse range of audiences and taught an intensive doc-making workshop, all under the auspices of the American Film Showcase. Peter Hamilton, a longtime consultant in the global documentary industry, shares his insights about the doc scene in China, taking a look at some of the key players in that burgeoning market. Finally, check out in April for a report from Singapore-based Craig McTurk on CNEX, a nonprofit production company and funding entity that is helping to foster an alternative indie doc community in China.


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White