I just finished a documentary project I’ve been producing/directing for Design Can Do about their recent work in Cape Town, South Africa. DCD launched both the two-minute trailer and the full eight-minute documentary a few days ago online and response has been positive. It’s stunning how fast motion picture content is digested by internet audiences.
My goal for this project from the beginning was to deliver a film that conveys the excitement and inspiration of the DCD workshop experience: above all, I wanted to establish a visceral connection between the viewer and the subject matter. A certain amount of journalistic exposition is necessary, of course, but more than anything I wanted the viewer to leave the film excited about what DCD is doing and asking how they can get involved. If the film is able to give even a few viewers goosebumps, I’d call that a job well done.
Thinking back on the process as a whole, I’m very pleased with the production successes we had on location in Cape Town. Both the logistics and the diplomacy involved in assembling a team and getting the film in the can went very smoothly, especially for an overseas shoot. My background working overseas, my Fulbright experience, and a decade of shooting and working on set all prepared me well for this task, but I think the experience and positive attitude of the team were in the end far more influential factors.
Post-production was a bit more challenging, primarily because I was operating father outside my comfort zone and in far greater solitude. Anticipating that this would be a challenge, I organized test audiences of different cuts of the film and consulted with colleagues I know and trust to provide feedback. This was such a valuable exercise, even for a short project like this. I can’t imagine making a film without this kind of input, and I feel so fortunate to have a circle of friends and colleagues whose opinion and taste I respect so much.
I’m reminded that we do our best work when we feel relaxed and supported, even when a project is taking us in a new and uncertain direction. From the very beginning of this process the Design Can Do founders expressed complete trust in my abilities as a filmmaker and gave me the space to really immerse myself in the project creatively. It’s difficult to overestimate the value that this kind of professional relationship has in a creative work environment, and I hope this was the first of many collaborations with these gals.
The view from Anchorage Street: high white clouds, strong visibility.