The art of documentary

May 10, 2010 at 7:02 am Leave a comment

Mark Landsman's Thunder Soul at Hot Docs 2010

Considering documentaries represent a large part of my spare time, it surprises me how I’ve never actually been to Hot Docs. How dare I call myself a Torontonian!

I actually paid for a 10-movie pass this year, a whopping $98, which is a bit of money to plop down for a part-time worker and, as a former employee of the Toronto International Film Festival, have seen my share of free movies over the years. However, $98 seemed absolutely acceptable to me, considering documentary filmmakers rarely make the big bucks that their Hollywood counterparts make.

As a hobby documentary maker — albeit in still image form — this makes me sad. It’s widely known that the whole photojournalism field is suffering now that the traditional newspaper is facing a big blow from the Internet. I mean, how hard is it to create an income model? The Internet is a freaking cash cow, but no one’s able to get their act together and see how advertising can fit in. Hurry up, already! Grr!

Despite this, I feel the people who really shine at documenting will be given their due soon. Mobile twitpics still have their place, but the newspapers will really have to focus on what voice they want to spread across the Internets, and it will require some trained, paid staffers to do that properly. Is this just a pipe dream? I certainly hope not.

I’ve been thinking narrative slideshows are a start. I’ve seen a few on the NY Times site, and they were really impressive. Though I do appreciate standard videos, still photography makes me grip my arm rests; in slideshow form, it becomes a striking movie in itself, and with adept use of sound, it can be even more powerful. I keep meaning to turn my Goodbye, Sunshine series into something of that nature, but things like work and clicking on gmail, flickr, and facebook tend to encompass most of my day. Why do personal projects require so much discipline? You’d figure it’d be a priority, but it stays on the backburner. How do people do it?

As for Hot Docs, the $98 pass was well worth it, and I was so happy to see most of the shows sell out. Gives me hope that maybe there is a future for the documentary filmmaker. Fingers freaking crossed.

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Entry filed under: documentary, film, photography.

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