Posts Tagged 'Documentary'

New Day Today

Tomorrow too.

There’s a lot going into this post. It was a long weekend. It was good, but I was off and I was angry and I was making mistakes and being rude and inconsiderate and just pissed off to people I love.

Hey McNutty!

I said “fuck” a lot more than I usually do (which so-fucking-what?) but there was something behind it that isn’t usually there. Uh oh. Now this is going to sound silly: I finished Season 5 of “The Wire” last Friday (own the box-set folks, you just have to), at which point I immediately downed the special features. Some people think the final season veers off and contains choices its characters wouldn’t really make, particularly McNulty. I disagree. There is a moment when his partner – the ever-cigar-chomping Bunk – is scolding him for his actions and McNulty says, “They don’t get to win, we get to win!” That line contains untold reservoirs of anger and bitterness and rage – at the crime itself but also (moreso?) at the equally broken system in place and people in power to stop it. I can’t tell you how much I identified with that moment. It’s a callback to a monologue another character screams to inner city thugs earlier in the series, but it encapsulates his character. There is a particular brand of discontentment and failure and understanding that is McNulty’s alone. It’s the reason he remains the show’s “lead” character or at least central figure. “The Wire” in whole often echoes that perspective thematically and in many of the other characters’ story-lines. It’s the kind of thing that makes your chest go tight; the singular moment when your heart both swells with love and breaks in despair. McNulty lives that moment day after day.

So okay maybe I was a little pissed off. So much is broken it’s hard to know which way to move and which shard of glass will hurt your foot the least.

Be Afraid, For He is Awesome

On Tuesday I start filming a documentary about my friend and personal trainer, Shawn Richardson. I’ve never made a documentary before, and it’s been a while since I had to film anything myself. In the midst of occasional substitute teaching (Presbo!), looking for industry/permanent work, and a full workload of self-imposed writing, this will be a totally new experience. Which meant getting reacquainted with my camera. So today I struck out to a nearby park, intending only to film test-footage and work on camera movements, but after about 30 minutes, I started looking for details. I walked the entire park shooting bits and pieces as I went. By the time I left, I felt so much better. Calmer. Less constricted. I had to get outside myself, focus on other people, a whole community enjoying the beautiful weather on an important day.

I thought of looking up some MLK quotes, but it’d be a sham. I didn’t watch “The Wire” because of him or go to the park because of him. It just worked out this way and maybe it just often does. Truth and goodness and community don’t occur because of earthly or human perfection. That’s not what happens on this side of life, and it’s frustrating. We are neither the authors nor perfecters of our salvation or faith. But they exist in us and between us when we seek something outside ourselves together, regardless of how desperate the state of things has become.

So I made it into a short video; a mini-doc, if you will. I set it to a song off The Decemberists’ new album The King is Dead (which how appropriate?!) called “Calamity Song” (Again!).

So, as you saw… There’s all sorts of issues with the mini-doc, short as it is. Should have got more signs, sleeping people, bicycles, runners, skaters, food, smiles, laughing, feet, et al. I spent two hours there is all, and didn’t have the idea to even try to do anything with the footage until I was already gone, and by that point it seemed somehow wrong to go back. Nonetheless, lessons learned.


#8 – Man on Wire



8. Man on Wire – This documentary came out of nowhere. It tells of the story of Phillippe Petit, a wirewalker, who one day in the late 60’s/early 70’s, heard of the construction of two gigantic buildings in New York City, called The World Trade Center’s twin towers. He decided he must walk between them. What comes next is an amazingly suspenseful, exciting, and moving tale of how he and his team got the equipment all the way to the top, past security, up staircases, hiding out on the abandoned floors for hours, keeping absolutely still while night-patrol moved past them, within inches. More than anything, the film is about passion. About what you do when you know what you were meant to do. Petit embodies that sense of purpose that many people crave. Seeing it in his eyes is harrowingly beautiful. He just knew what he had to do: “There was peace and immensity and I…I…, in the middle of all this madness, I had hope and joy.” James Marsh’s film is great for the way it mixes together interviews with all the key players on his team with recreations of some of the more suspenseful moments, as well as old video footage of Petit practicing, doing what he does better than anything else – wirewalking. That Petit does, in fact, walk on a wire between the twin towers is not the point of the film. The suspense does not lie in whether or not he achieves his goal, because we know he did. It is about the feeling Petit has inside himself as he is doing the task he set before himself. Seeing him out there in photographs, a glorious, holy smile on his face stirred something in me. Hearing him speak about it as a thing that grabbed hold of him, that he was drawn to with all of his being. He just knew. He had no doubt that this was placed into his life just for him. How often do we get to see someone in the midst of their passion? Enjoying it and living it and doing it all at the same time? That is what makes his achievement special. This film is a marvel.

It Has Come to This

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June 2019
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