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STORY OF OUR LIVES

Billede
In the latest edition of DOX Magazine there’s an interesting essay by Swedish filmmaker PeÅ Holmquist. He feels that he always has to answer all but ONE question to commissioning editors and other people whom he wants to invest in or buy his films: what is the film’s STORY? And Holmquist is tired of it. And rightfully so, I might add. Well, of course I could tease him by asking what the hell he had expected from a BBC slot called “Storyville”, with the crucial word up there in the name, but I would rather tease the one who chose the name, because why would you name your TV slot after a part of New Orleans?
But never mind, the thing in question is why commissioning editors are so interested in “story”, even in documentaries? The answer is probably that they are interested in stories because they think that their audience is. And most likely they are right. And most likely, even us who fight against the numbing reign of story and the dramaturgical "quasi-fascism" enjoy to be to…

Documentary News

One of the best places to follow the international documentary scene is the blog www.filmkommentaren.dk, run by the two Danish "nestors", Allan Berg Nielsen and Tue Steen Müller. And oh, I almost forgot: I write there from time to time too.

How to Succeed as a Documentary Filmmaker 1

A film course in 5-6 easy steps

1. FIND THE TOPIC Either in a very, very private or a very, very dangerous place
2. FILM THE TOPIC Either very, very handheld or very, very still
3. EDIT THE FILMING OF THE TOPIC Either very, very fast paced or very, very slow
4A. DO A VOICE-OVER Either yourself in English with bad/exotic accent or by famous actor with bad/exotic accent
and/or
4B. PUT ON MUSIC Either by a virtually unknown but hip musician-friend of yours or by some classical composer dude.
The fifth step runs along the other four and is so obvious I can hardly make myself write it down:
5. TALK TO/LAUGH AT JOKES BY/COMPLIMENT CHILDREN OF/DRINK OR DO DRUGS WITH/KISS ASS OF/GO TO BED WITH etc.: COMMISSIONING EDITORS/TV EXECUTIVES/FILM FESTIVAL DIRECTORS/JURY MEMBERS/FINANCING FORUM ARRANGERS/INFLUENTIAL DIRECTORS/BLOG WRITERS etc.
And oh; I almost forgot:
6. MAKE IT A CROSS/TRANS/MULTI MEDIA PROJECT FOR NO APPARENT REASON

PS. I must here correct myself: Even though point 5 talks about it, recent event h…

(Lack Of) Authenticity?

Bente Milton’s and my own film, ”My Avatar and Me” (2010/11), has now been showed at quite a few TV stations and at a number of festivals of which I’ve had the privilege to attend most of them. It is really a pleasure getting to show the film to people and discuss it with local audiences and colleagues from around the world. As Hans Christian Andersen once said: “At rejse er at leve” (“To travel is to live”) and as a film maker I just have to live... so I can experience something to make films about… J

At the latest of the festivals – the small and lovely Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival in the north-western part of Ireland – a member of the audience first said she really enjoyed the film but then asked how the film could ever be selected for a documentary festival. Of course I couldn’t answer on behalf of the festival, but I completely agree that the film has many fictional aspects. And the reason for that was that we as filmmakers chose to blend different modes of fi…

Min avatar og mig med flere.

(I hope my international reader(s) will excuse me for posting this in Danish)


I en af de fraklippede sekvenser i “Min Avatar og Mig” går jeg og min sidekick Rob på bar for at slappe lidt af. Ideen med sekvensen (som er en fri rekonstruktion af autentiske begivenheder) var dels at vise vores spirende venskab, dels at konsolidere mig eller min figur som en ufrivilligt komisk, drikfældig skørtejæger (som i hvert fald delvist er i overensstemmelse med virkeligheden) og dels for at lave noget sanddruelig (dvs. ikke-ædruelig) dialog vedrørende filmens tema om følelser mellem mennesker og avatarer. Vi instruktører besluttede så, at jeg og Rob skulle drikke os langsomt men sikkert berusede under optagelserne. Det lykkedes rigtigt godt, og bortset fra at jeg næsten ikke kan holde ud at se det (bl.a. er der en scene, hvor jeg tiltvinger mig adgang til barens klaver for at spille et nummer, jeg har skrevet til den kvindelige avatar-hovedperson, Helena, og hvor bassisten i det band, der lige har s…

“The premise for all comedy…

… is a man in trouble”, Jerry Lewis is supposed to have said. If that is true, isn’t it a paradox that comedy and documentary films not more often go hand in hand? Because a lot of documentaries are surely about somebody in trouble: about someone mistreated by society, some pariah or outcast who stands up against someone or something. So there should be plenty of possibilities to make that funny to look at. How come it so seldom is – funny to look at, I mean? How come we often avoid using humour in any form to get our message or communication across?
Well, in the Lewis-quote it is kind of inherent that we laugh at the man in trouble and we as filmmakers surely don’t want to have people laughing at our main characters. But why not? In his book, “Comedy is a Man in Trouble”, Alan S. Dale writes something like (quoted from memory): “Slapstick humour doesn’t feel very profound but yet very truthful to our own experiences in life.” I immediately link the second part of that sentence to some…

Two DOComedies

Until I get around to write something clever again(?), here are short docomedies. One is about the royal wedding in Denmark in 2004 (and I admit it's a bit hard to follow the subtitles with the speed of the VO and the editing) and the other is a paranoic view out my windows.

"The Royal Wedding" was made on a grant from Danish Film Directors and shows how the director tries to convince his cameraman that he should be invited to the wedding of the Danish Crown Prince. This is the film that made me think up the phrase "docomedy" which depicts a true event in a satirical and self-reflective and/or self-ironic way:




"Is This Really Legal?" is also somewhat of a docomedy and was made for a web-tv project called CLIPS where ten directors made a small film. Funded by Danish Film Institute and daily newspaper Politiken: