New Year and New Ways of looking at Nonfiction

Welcome to 2019. So glad we made it.

This year brings an opportunity to rethink the way we are imagining the realm and possibility of nonfiction media making. In consideration of new looking or re-looking or re-forming how we look and how we see and understand the world we inhabit, I’d like to draw your attention to some recent publications to help guide your view.

Consider this manifesto by Alexandra Juhasz & Alisa Lebow, Beyond Story: An Online Community Based Manifesto recently published in the World Records Journal presented by Union Docs in New York.

Beyond Story: An Online Community Based Manifesto

The challenge to the discipline here is the overwhelming question, why has STORY become the presiding factor in the realization of a nonfiction work? What other ways of looking can we embolden to encompass that which story fails to do? What are we missing when we privilege story over other forms of truth-telling?

As the title implies, the community aspect should not go without mention. The simple revelation that nonfiction film as an industry needs to broaden its view in terms of HOW it is reflecting life as lived but also WHO participates in that reflection. We have certainly come through the era where one person (be it director, producer, what have you) claims and is awarded the full credit and responsibility of the work. We, most of us, understand that it takes a village and often a specific community to accomplish any meaningful work in this area.

So, I invite you to also consider these newly published guidelines for crediting in a work of nonfiction. Created by a team of producers and makers and hosted by the Documentary Producers Alliance, this guide unabashedly lays out the terms of who does what and how that should be reflected in the credits.

Documentary Producers Alliance Crediting Guidelines

As we navigate this intersection between revealing the potential of our field as it soars to new possibilities of expanded distribution and viewership and combating the insipid colonialism and patriarchy on which this business was built, there is much to consider. Perhaps the answers are not completely obvious but the need for action over passivity is abundantly clear.

Soumyaa Behrens