PETER'S ARTICLE ALSO APPEARED IN : NBFC WEEKLY E-NEWS : CLICK HERE
In 1939 when John Grierson came from Scotland to start up a Canadian National Documentary organization called The National Film Board of Canada, he along with James Beverage began what would become the Canadian way of making documentaries - the real deal raw, and rugged. Grierson's honesty wasn't anything like the phoney, scripted hogwash or the extreme nonsense of Michael Moore and others who really make dramas that are staged, scripted and edited into preconceived stories to fit what is on the page rather than allowing the real nature of the subject to unfold and tell its own story.
Years back I co-wrote a book on the work of Richard Leiterman, who made all of Alan King's documentaries. To catch the important story moments, they shot 50 to 60 hours to get one hour of a finished project. Through this shooting, the director was able to look at the footage and find the story structure in the editing phase. An enormous amount of time would be spent in the editing room by the director since he was often not present during the shoot. He would see the footage for the first time, and would make the documentary from that footage without the emotional side effects that might have surrounded him if he had been on the actual shoot.
In many ways, I'm taking the 'cinema direct' notion of Leiterman/King and the early National Film Board's idea of what a documentary should be and add that I shoot, edit, direct and produce it. I do this without others hovering over my idea wondering if it's marketable or suitable for their many obligations. I can do this due to digital filmmaking, which has allowed all of us to document various subjects without having to be a slave to the raising of large amounts of money to complete one's work - this is a miracle for the artist filmaker.
My documentary BEAUTIFUL BACHELORS has been a long term very passionate project of mine. I'm shooting from Ontario into the Maritimes, as my lifelong battle with cancer continues. Last year, I had three major surgeries to remove tumors and part of my lungs. During the second surgery, a nerve to my left vocal cord was severed thus causing my voice to be altered so that I now sound like Tom Waites on a bad day. Of course when I contact a potential bachelor by phone my rasping, hoarse voice sometimes scares them into wondering who could sound like that and be an active, producing filmaker. So each time, I have to introduce myself and explain my voice issue, and then we get on with the shoot.
Although the documentary has been ‘on the shelf’ during my surgeries , Helene and I have continued our photo/art collaboration that we call ‘Marvelous Realism’ and while I’m shooting in Old Ottawa South looking for comments from bachelors, we’ll have our MarvelousRealism images hanging in the Loo (that’s the Loo not the Louvre ) at
Life Of Pie, 1134 Bank Street in OldOttawa south - the show will run all
through June in the loo.
Drop in, have a piece of pie and think about how creative work enhances all our lives.