This past weekend was the first production day for the documentary that Shai and I are working on, and I am already starting to see how documentary filmmaking is different than fiction. In the past, I have only worked on scripted videos, translating stories on the screen that have been thoroughly planned out on the page. With this project, I’m learning how documentary stories can evolve to make themselves become more clear throughout the process. What began as a short documentary about a person doing good became a call to action for a movement of doing good, and this weekend, I could start to see the direction by which we are going to tell the story.
Friday afternoon, Shai and I hit the road to Virginia to shoot our main interview with James Orrigo, the founder of Lad In A Battle and the subject of our film. Just before we left, he called us about another person we could interview for the film, his college guidance counselor, Christine, who had seen him and his movement grow. She was only an hour’s drive from his home in Virgina, and had a house on Lake Anna, a potentially great interview location. Yet as much as Shai and I were tantalized by the idea of the waterfront backdrop, we knew that it wouldn’t serve our story enough to justify the sound problems it came with.
During her interview, Christine talked about the problem of living one’s life in fear. Fear for the future, for grades, for school, for money. The problem with fear is that it prevents us being happy and from fully embracing the world with love. As I listened through my headphones, watched the microphones levels, and thought about her words, I started to realize how this video was going to take shape. James made a choice back when he got a concussion in high school from lacrosse that nearly killed him; he could either live the rest of his life in fear of the world, or embrace it with love. Immediately after the interview, Christine invited us all out on her boat in Lake Anna, and we Shai and i made the conscious choice to live by the new words of our film. In fact, this could be the angle by which we tackle the rest of the film.
What does it mean to embrace the world with love? It means reaching out to people, it means doing what makes you happy, doing what makes others happy, and finding a way to balance those out everyday. What James does with music for children and the music he played for his mother during her cancer, is his way of bridging what makes those around him happy and what makes him happy. What became even more clear during James’ interview is that something about him and the Lad In A Battle movement is infectious. Early on when he just started Lad In A Battle, he had an idea to get from VA to ME without a car by relying on people along the coast who liked his message and sell t-shirts along the way. James had a choice: to live his life in fear, or in love. The success of this trip and the effects it had on propelling his movement demonstrated the power of this idea that Christine had talked about. Especially at a time when our lives are moving so fast. There is so much pressure for the future, to get good grades to go to a good school to get a good job to have money. Yet James choice to follow his heart and live his life in love for others and now he and his wife are gearing up to build a tiny house on the back of trailer to tour hospitals across the country, all in hopes to kick start his Out Of The Music Box program for children with cancer. Despite the battles underneath, he’s living his life in love, not in fear, and this is something that we can all do. This is not the way I had thought to tell his story, but now I am realizing that with documentary’s, they like to tell their own stories and we have to guide them.