A personal notes from the director, Trevor DeSaussure. I wanted to find a way to talk about these subjects without coming down on an audience so I chose to exclude the use of analysis which I understand is a little weird when talking about making a documentary. I want this project to be as close to unbiased fact as possible. I didn't call in a "professional analysts" just real people to tell you their stories from real accounts; nothing more and nothing less. I don't give my opinion on race issues and I don't let the subjects either. The problem is that it is so hard to have this type of conversation in real time without being offensive or starting to demean other cultures. By striking the use of analysis in the film I'm hoping audience members have that much more space to create their own personal discussion. I don't want to think for you, you have your own brain, I'm just presenting you with information.
The concept of this project came from a few different places. A friend of mine was in town visiting and a group of us decided to go out to dinner. I have no idea how but during the discussion that night the subject of "individual perspective," came up. Individual perspective meaning every, single, separate life view from every person on the planet Earth (this conversation got deep out of no where). We talked about how each person on the planet Earth has a different understanding than another one does through unique filters such as culture, religion, race, region, political views, life experiences, etc. To put it in very short terms, only you know what it's like to be you. Only a black man knows what it's like to be a black man. But what if you put a group of black men together in a room? Sure they share similar life experiences from the filter of race but each individual has had slightly unique life experiences. What if you then factor in black women? This same scenario goes for all races. In this project the questions are formulated to where I'm not asking about the black experience, the Muslim, or Hispanic experiences. I'm asking each subject questions that only pertain to themselves. By grouping a black man's statements with other black men and women (same goes for all the other races) I'm hoping the audience will pick up on the similarities of their statements. Again, I don't want to think for you.
I visited the Hirshhorn Museum last summer with a friend and we stumbled upon this exhibit focussing on the Muslim experience, more pertaining to women. I forget who the artist was but there was this movie screening using a double screen format. We absolutely hated it. I remember making eye contact with the friend that I was with and whispering to her "please don't make me stay here for the whole thing." The rest of the exhibit was ok but the entire time I was sitting in the theater all I could think to myself was "I could do this so much better."I decided to go for it. That's right this project is meant to be played on two different screens simultaneously. As this project has developed it's kind of shied away from that format but is still being filmed to allow me to do so if I choose. I do want to enter this project into festivals so I'm not sure if I'm actually going to take the dual screen route; but YEESH that would be so great to do. There might be a private screen where I implement that technique, we'll see. I'm a huge geek about pulling off technical feats and still reel at the idea of going for it. Technique was a major influence in developing this project.
I wouldn't take on this type of project if I weren't taking something away from it. The entire point of a documentary is to teach and I'm learning a lot about different people during interviews. Some pretty intense subjects have been brought up. The concept of Self Evident is very...self evident. This is what I've told each of our subjects, "Explain who you are to me. I don't want you to explain anyone else's experiences to me, I only want to hear about you and what you think."