Workshop #17: Documentary Film Ethics - building the relationship and trust with your character
Respect for your subjects, for your work, for your audience
It can't be stressed enough. Sadly it is NOT stressed enough. Ethical practice in documentary filmmaking is paramount.
Unfortunately as there is no regulation and no guidelines we need to set our own standards. As DIY filmmakers, nothing is stopping us from doing what we want and portraying our subjects in the way we want. Ethics are individual, what means one thing to one person means something else to another.
Over the next few weeks, I will be looking more closely at how we can film ethically, as it is a subject close to my heart having worked on two full length documentaries with characters who have mental health issues.
We do have a responsibility to our subjects. Yet, the dilemma remains: How to be honest yet tell a story with a great narrative?
Here are some ethical points for us to think about when we are preparing to film our documentary
I asked my friend and fellow filmmaker Tao Gu, who made the award-winning Chinese documentary Taming the Horse, which I had the honour to work on, to speak to me about working with Dong his friend and the main protagonist from his documentary.
DOCUMENTARY TIP #1
The importance of the relationship between filmmaker and character
Thank you for passing by. Have a great week
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Filmmaker, teacher, traveler and storyteller
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"Jeannette helped me find a path and create energy with my material which I first found so difficult to handle. With her help to become interesting and wonderful. She is interesting in class, lively in class, often in communication with students, very popular with students. Jeannette is a very conscientious documentary teacher." TianHui Li, award winning filmmaker, Beijing Film Academy graduate, Concordia University