last semester when i was registering for classes, i had doc pretty high on my list. i had just completed the OTHER 366K, intro to narrative, and wanted to test out the other side to round out my skillz. i quickly realized that documentaries are a whole other beast.
with narrative, i had complete control of my film. i laid down the concept, outlined it, wrote the script, hired the actors, shot it (on 16mm black & white reversal... what a pain), and edited it. i'm not saying it was easy, in fact it was one of the most challenging things i've ever had to do, but i knew exactly how the story would turn out very early in the process.
quite the opposite with my doc. yeah, i had the concept and general direction i wanted to go, but the story didn't come together very quickly or easily. in fact, my concept and general direction greatly changed from when i started to when i finished. originally, i was supposed to follow hasan and wesley around when they went out to get free stuff, and it was supposed to be more of a character-driven doc. but, due to multiple scheduling conflicts, that never happened. so i had to change the plan.
i spent hours looking at craigslist postings, trying to find interesting items up for grabs. that wasn't even the hard part. to my surprise, most people didn't want to be asked questions about their items. i got turned down for awesome items like a bulletproof vest, an old piano, and adult diapers (unused). i was seriously freaking out when finally things came together. in a span of 2 weeks, i got the "wedding stuff" woman, the "christmas cards" woman, and, of course, the manure guy. then it was just a matter of slapping it all together.
working on this doc has been quite a rewarding experience. i got to go places and meet people that i never would have encountered otherwise. i got to explore something that the mainstream culture doesn't really know about and hopefully shed some light on it. what i basically learned is that when i'm working on a doc, i can't be the control freak that i am with narratives. i just have to let the story unfold and tell itself.