The majority of interviews for Born & Raised are finished, so I have started the process of reviewing the video to
- document what we have,
- see what we still need, and most importantly
- start to assemble a story out of the material.
The last task is the most daunting, as I am very much a story-driven writer and am admittedly having difficulty determining the best way to share the story.
The original premise for the documentary was quite simple – collect stories of my father’s experiences in South Philly during the 1940s and 50s, as well as his childhood growing up in an orphanage. Erin and Nathan (who have more experience with film making and documentaries) suggested I be objective when interviewing, shoot a lot of video, and then determine the story we want to share. This was not how I typically operate. Normally, I plan out details, write outlines, develop neat and linear story progressions, and seldom stray too far off course. I have dabbled in fiction and taken numerous college and post-college, creative writing courses that instructed me on the fundamentals of building a story.
Stories are built in acts, with the following formula:
Act 1: Introduce main characters, provide background information, and introduce a major dramatic question. Act 1 ends with the Plot point 1 which is a triggering event for Act 2
Act 2: build conflict and progress plot.
Act 3: starts with plot point 2, which is another triggering event that leads to climax and resolution.
See, pretty neat and organized!
However, with this project, we did not start with a roadmap or designated story. Our approach was much different – to dive right into the interviews with just my own familiar knowledge of the subjects and some broad topics to discuss. Instead of long narrative questions, we handled each interview as a blank canvas and let the process guide us. As the project moved along, I learned a lot about my family, dismissed some preconceived notions about them, and found many surprises along the way (which we hope to share in the final cut of Born & Raised).
This unplanned approach definitely took me out of my normal comfort zone but as we come closer to the end of filming, I am excited about what we captured and am looking forward to letting the story unfold.