During Monday’s lighting workshop with Chris Scarafile, he said something toward the end that really stuck with me. When someone asked him whether he enjoyed his fiction work or his documentary work better, he answered that without, documentary was where he his heart was. It’s the part of media creation where he can really make a difference, to tell real stories about people and places we otherwise would never be aware of. As he talked about the photos he had, the certainty in his voice made that very clear.
While I had never been much into documentary work myself, a few years ago I came across a small production company called Gnarly Bay. It’s a small group of five young filmmakers who aim to inspire people and tell stories that are worth giving people pause and spread positivity. I didn’t realize it in the moment but the short videos and films I had been watching on their website were documentaries or sorts. The sorts that I began to get really into.
This past Summer, I spent a lot of my free time walking the nature trails in Ithaca and listening to podcasts, two in particular: Radio Lab and Invisibilia. Both of these podcasts tell extremely fascinating stories in a way that is both entertaining and inspirational. It was through these podcasts that I began having the realization that there are so many amazing, heart-wretching, inspirational, shocking, and otherwise fascinating stories out there happening everyday, and if told right, can empower people to change the way they think and to take action. All of these stories floated around my head and I continued to find myself surprised and inspired. It wasn’t until our road trip to Virginia a few weeks ago that I realized my own new passion.
As we drove and talked about the film that were driving to shoot for, Shai said something to me that put to words what I had been feeling. “I want to use media to make people care about people.” That’s it. That’s what all of these videos, these podcasts, these documentaries were doing. They were making people see each other differently. When Chris Scarafile told our class that his heart lay in documentary work because of the real impact it had on other people, I didn’t need the pictures or his voice to convince me that he was telling the truth; I was feeling the same thing and just didn’t know how to express it. This semester, Shai and I are working on a short documentary that’s sole intention is to remind people to reach out and help each other every day in whatever capacity they can, to remind people that others are doing good things despite the terrible news stories and the tragedies that fill our newsfeeds. Shai, Chris, and the guys from Gnarly Bay are right; there are a lot of stories out there that need to be told and documentaries are a great way to do it. As we continue to work on this project, I am realizing more and more that while I had never been much into documentaries before, I’s never too late to realize another passion. I’m glad I still have this opportunity to get my feet wet in this field of work before I graduate because at this rate, I may end do much more documentary work after school than I ever would have thought a few years ago.