United States, Lynn, KEN discussed on The Documentary Life


Of how one goes out even setting up production to go into a prison. What how did the security access work? What was the overall process? who were the sort of the key individuals that you had to begin contacting with in order to make this happen? It took took us. It took us a while to get permission. Both from the state and the Department of Corrections but once we had gotten that permission we have an extraordinary producer Mariah durant who took the lion's share of the just call sheet organization which I if you are a documentary filmmaker. This would make anybody's heads spin. We became a very lean very compact crew. We brought in as little gear as we possibly could and small footprint as as we possibly good both for the complexity of this space and the complexity of security and we have an really talented team. Amen we got permission to come in and out and we were extremely organized and tried to be very very efficient and we shot really really long days. We would make the most of our time there because the students the students and incarcerated individuals time is so carefully choreographed and manage that figuring out how we it could maximize how much time I could spend with the students and also in the facility at a time that we were allowed to be there was not simple. Can you give us a snapshot of what of what a day looks like so when you enter in the morning the other crew assembling outside together and then everyone's walking in together do they have. Have you SORTA handlers that you're working with give us a snapshot of what that looks like going through the security and getting into the building to begin the day we both talked about because we usually went in very early. Always as T- we processed in together we cleared our gear together. We went through the gates together. We got to the part of the prison. We were shooting in usually as a group. You have a number of subjects of course in this in this doc series talk about initially any meeting people what that process was like. And then how you decided who you're subjects would be and I'll take a savannah monitor cerebral jump and cheer this essential to the whole project. We appreciate the opportunity to do the film for this. Very reason we recognize you know immediately that this it's GonNa be difficult because we couldn't pick up the phone and call people or send an email or just hang out. Everything was very carefully controlled so we started before we even started added filming or really planning our project. We met with a number of alums of the Barker's initiative who had already entered the program and at least from prison were out in the world and we just for background this month. Ask them what was it like for them. And what did they think. Felt like this should be about and what should or the pitfalls to avoid and they were extremely generous is with us to just help us get a little bit Ranjin before we sort of went into prisons and started talking to the students without really knowing anything about their lodger their experiences. That was his background research homework so to speak. But then we just we got permission or we ask for the opportunity to just go inside inside and watch the classes for a while and not really talked to anyone too much and then we kind of noticed certain for people that may be seem particularly animated or interesting or a a particular aspect to their personality that we thought was interesting and maybe their academic life and we just started sort of noticing. Different people in wanting talk to them and spent time with them without a camera there and then in addition there were when we started filming there was a cohort of women that were starting the program of women's president and a cohort of men that were starting parting so we knew we were going to choose people from those two groups who were just beginning the programme and so we spent time with them kind of as a large group and broke down. You know little little bit individually each meet with different people just kind of take notes in and again a sense of where they were at and then there was a group of men that had already finished their sensitive degree that we're starting with bachelors degrees through the last two years of the program and so we were thirty seven of them. We couldn't get to know all of them what we try to get as many as we could and overtime probably a few months kind of zeroed in few people that we thought would be should focus on in evolved over time as well okay and were you filming that entire time early on when you are you know. I know you're you're in and out of the prison doing the research. You're spending time with potential subjects. Did you have a camera there during that time or was it. Once you had decided who you're subjects would be that you actually started to roll little votes. We shot early on. Lynn was just saying these two cohorts of students who were or just starting the program and the students who were just starting the BA. We didn't want to lose time tracking that process so we filmed early on before we knew some of the subjects as well as we obviously got to know them very well over time but we wasn't one size fits all. We spent a lot of time without the cameras but we also did some very surgical surgical shooting that felt like it would be the launch for the film it was about. We started building in the summer of twenty fourteen finished in the summer twenty seventeenth so it was four years. Okay Okay Finan. That was you know that was kind of big into the whole idea of the project was that we believed absolutely that. FM about this subject needed to show the transformation that happens when people have access to education and that happens over time even if we had wanted to stop working on Vietnam just spend six months working on this. It wouldn't have worked for the concept of what the film could do is just one of my favorite documentaries stories of all time is twenty eight up and the magic of that of seeing people change so extraordinary can say that. We aspire to be Michael APP ted. But I think that's the power of development away too you know and so we wanted that to be part of this project and so we had to start when we started in basically had to get all the way to graduation. intuitions was four years later. That series is a huge inspiration series. The seven up series in fact as a side note we had You may remember. You may remember one of the subjects Nick Nick Kitchen who has lived in the US now for a long time we actually had him on the program because we wanted to talk about what it what. It's like like for the documentary subject on the other side of the cameras. And if there's one thing that I have learned to fear in this. Is Mike A to that because we think about that a lot you know. That's really what. Yeah I will send you a link to that. It's a wonderful conversation nation. You will recognize the voice immediately and you your heart will open immediately. It was he was. He was a conversation to have. And and DOC as consumers members of that film and then as doc filmmakers yourself you will appreciate the conversation four years. Four hundred hours of footage. How do you even begin an editorial sense to start? Whittling this footage down Alice Dongting credit to are really extraordinary editor for Sharabia. Take her assistant chased. Horton helping US inexpensive all this material but you know in a way we kind of approached it to some degree at least start the way we work with material historical films and that we had a lot of interviews and sort of group conversations. We just pulled select so we watched that the transcription picked out the sections that we thought were interesting. Jiang and then we kind of build Lucon assembly just really more the the interview in the conversation the talking what people had to say sort. What was the stories? We put all the best material together in this. I think it was eight hours long or something. And that didn't include any there taper to actually just the The content talking shame that we got to be in the film were being considered and then we start to break that down into episodes. And you know we're gonNA boil it down and let me start to add the cheik scenes and that net. We could move some of the sort of talking. That was explaining things that we were actually gonNA show instead so it's It was a very organic process and none of us has made it sound like just before that narration and without you know a building instructor so we'll along those lines. What's what's an approach that you brought to this that you would have taken? We're GONNA WE'RE GONNA WE'RE GONNA answer this into his. I'm I'm GONNA ask you. What's an approach that you brought to this that you would have taken from all of your years doing films with Ken? And then what's something that you may be consciously did differently gently in your approach from the years working with Ken. No you should answer. That was a very dramatic pause. Talk about that. A lot was what's similar and what's different so I think what similar was that. The approached the the people in the film with interests and an open mind and open heart alone. Speak Present and hear what they had to stay and understand them. You know who they were and just be be open to that so that the film could reflect what we think people should do but they actually are. And that's changing over time. And that's been true nicer that we hope when integrity of that process that is consistent and everything that we do and then there's the dynamics of just pure storytelling you know. I think stories can always says a beginning middle and end you have to edit out but extraneous material that you have to keep the audience engaged and how you do that. It doesn't matter whether you have a nation or not on whether using old photographs or not just a pure kind of craft of storytelling. You know how you use your characters. How do you set up? What's at stake? How do you you know? Reveal what you're going to reveal as you're going along those kinds of just peer narrative devices. I guess are really more or less the same. It's just here. We didn't know what they were going to be when we started right. Yeah I think another piece of this that we've been talking about. Is You know we were also. Oh nervous when we started that how you know the visual landscape is pretty the same pretty much the same it is the same. The school flora doesn't change much. The clothes lows they wear are pretty much the same. They're in the same location and how we were GONNA make that visually interesting repetitive. But end up being you. You know both beautiful. And I think ultimately a strength of the film that both are cinematographers are amazing and Tricia 's Lynn was saying but just just to sort of lean into where we were and what we were doing and follow it both visually and from storytelling perspective in some various simple ways. Isn't that much more complicated ways..

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