Today’s Guest Blogger is Jeremy Moss, Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at Franklin & Marshall College:
The moment that I was assigned to teach a workshop in documentary filmmaking, I immediately knew that I wanted my students to make portrait films. Actually, let’s go back – in 2009, when I began following David Lynch’s series of 121 portrait documentaries under the umbrella title Interview Project, I knew I wanted to teach a class structured around this type of filmmaking.
I am interested in the potential of portrait documentaries. They allow a viewer brief yet intimate access to the lives of other human beings by honing in on the specific, the seemingly minute detail(s). Portrait documentaries act as windows, glimpses – poems in place of long-form prose.
This semester, TDF364 Documentary Workshop has juggled rigorous study of documentary history, formal and conceptual filmmaking practices, as well as community building efforts. Students first met their subjects in early February - a Bhutanese, a Karen Burmese, and an Ethiopian resettled refugee. hey met twice without any equipment, recorded an audio interview on the third visit, and video on the fourth and fifth. Each student group engaged beyond the requirements of the course, it has been inspiring to guide and witness this process.
So here we are: near the end of the Spring 2012 semester, and my students have immersed themselves deeply in the documentary process. Three projects are now completed and ready for exhibition, looping on iPads side-by-side.
Please peruse David Lynch’s Interview Project – this class’ starting-off point:
Outside In: Documentary Portraits of Resettled Refugees premiers on April 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm and is on view at The Phillips Museum of Art through May 12, 2012.