"Hilary's Straws" director Phil Cox answers the Focus Forward questionnaire:
1. What was it about the Focus Forward themes of innovation and/or invention that attracted you to the project?
I found it exciting to look at people who used, harnessed or invented technology for their own purposes when the majority of us simply use what we are given as per the instructions booklet. Most of us never really take the time to understand the technological gadgets and machines that we have become so dependent on - so I found the search for individuals who have mastered such mysteries for their own ends, and who are prepared to create their own stuff an inspiring one.
2. Can you give me some examples of how recent innovations have affected your work as a doc maker?
As in the 1960s with the advent of the Nagra and new mobile cameras - technology over the last 10 years has leapt forward and changed the way we filmmakers can work and produce. Edit systems and small HD cameras used to be only available to the exclusive few - but now everyone can shoot and edit and load to the net the reality before them. This, as everyone knows, is defining social and political movements globally - from Syria to London to Wall Street. Before, with great social unrest or revolutions, for example 1970s Chile, films were shot - on film - and therefore took years to smuggle out and edit and show. Now it can be a matter of hours or minutes. The 'craft' of filmmaking though - is of course still the same. And the advent of such tremendous technology does not mean 'better films' - but when the instruments of film are in more people's hands, it means there will be more innovators, more of us prepared to make mistakes and play with narrative and image. Its perhaps these amateur hands that will lead us all into the next chapter of film...
3. What are the biggest challenges of the compressed 3-minute format of the Focus Forward films?
A 3-minute format is pretty challenging, no doubt about it! Trying to pace and let something unfold at that length is damn hard! But any constraint - such as 3 minutes - does actually give a ring fence from which to work off.
4. What are the 3 most important thing for a documentary filmmaker to know/do to attract a general public that might be convinced that documentaries are "educational" or "dry."
1) Start with a basic audience principal: They don't know and they don't care. 2) Make them laugh and they are in the palm of your hand... 3) Great cinema is mystery....play the cards of your story or subject one by one and in any order - but know when all the cards are laid, as that's the story's end.
5. Come on, you can tell me the truth...just between you and me... You really want to be making big studio films in Hollywood, don't you?
I want to make big stories not big movies! So if someone calls me from Hollywood, Nollywood, Prestwood or Eastwood, and it's a great story - I am yours in a heartbeat.
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