There are elements of what video journalism is/has become that has never settled well with me.
The infighting that exists within the old school shooters versus the solovj paradigm has gotten to the point of being childish – and I’m the first to admit I contributed to it in the beginning.
Now I’ve come to a fork on the path I’ve been traveling. One path is the continuance with the solovj paradigm. The other takes me down what I feel is my true calling – that of a documentary filmmaker.
This new path feels right. The slowing down of all the deadlines for short stories, the constant hoop jumping that occurs with trying to keep up with the Jones’ with all the crazy constant gear upgrades many in the profession seem to feel they need to do in order to stay competitive. And at the same time, all the gear in the world doesn’t make you a great story teller – and most fall short in that regard.
Documentary shooters are more conservative with their gear – it suits my disposition perfectly.
In this process, I had to think about this path. What was it I wanted to do as a visual documenter? It felt like the content I had created as a solovj left me lacking.
Realizing this, I had been taking inventory of what it was I really wanted to do. I realized I wanted to TELL stories, not report them.
My post production mentor recently explained it to me this way: video journalists find and report a story. Documentary filmmakers find and tell a story. Video Journalists win Emmy’s, Documentary Filmmakers win Academy Awards.
It wasn’t so much about the awards aspect that struck me. It was the description of reporting versus telling a story that turned the light on in a moment of epiphany for me.
I realized the path of documentary filmmaking has been my calling all along. I was a documentary still photographer in my past work, and it’s that telling of stories in depth that is the core of what I am and do as a visual content creator.
All along, I’ve heard more selling on both expensive and not so expensive courses for shooters – most marketed towards the shooters desperation to become video savvy – and yet the crucial elements of solid story telling seem to get cast aside for the sake of quick turnaround on these boot camps – some costing upwards of $2500. The constant upgrade cycle on gear to have the latest and greatest as a crutch has only added fuel to the flames.
The true essence of real change in society has come from in depth story telling – the documentary genre’ as a tool for real change. It has been said that it can be used as a platform for propaganda – the same can be said for todays news reporting – look at how Fox News reports “Their” conservative version of the news, while at the same time, MSNBC, CNN, etc reports the same topic, but with a more liberal bias.
The bottom line is news media is now corporate news media – profit margins and viewer eyeballs are what’s important – even if it means selling sensationalist news for the sake of the sheeple masses never ending hunger for the pablum they’re willing to be fed by the corporate news media.
So, I’ve chosen to take the road less traveled – that of a documentary filmmaker. I’ll apply the construct of the solo video journalist paradigm, working as a self contained production entity to meld the two into a new paradigm – that of the microdocumentary filmmaker. The “Micro” is the less is more production process of compact equipment while at the same time, bring a more thought out process for the creation/production of thought provoking documentary content across multiple distribution channels.
Taking the road less traveled as a documentary film maker will not be easy, but in the end, the rewards will be both financial and personal for me.