Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Secret of Sarah Pennington - Leaving Your Mark

Just before my grandfather died I remember his biggest fear was that he wouldn’t be remembered.  In regard to leaving our mark on this world, documentary maker Michael Rabiger wrote:

You and I as common people must not pass silently from life.  Future historians must have our testimony as their resource.  Documentaries are our grassroots visions, not just what was preserved by an elite and its minions.  You and I can use cinematic language – the 20th century’s great contribution to universal understanding-to create a record of family, friends, and surrounding; to pose ideas and questions; and to forcefully convey what we see and feel.  We can propose the causes, effects, and meanings of the life that we are leading.  We can bear witness to these times, reinterpret history, and prophesy the future.

In the aftermath of the horrific and terrible tragedy in Haiti, student filmmakers at a filmmaking school located in Haiti did exactly what Rabiger is describing. They recorded what was going on in that ravaged country and offered it to the rest of the world.  And so their views, their positions, will always be available for us to compare and contrast with the big media, the CBS, CNN and Fox that went to Haiti to bring us their version of events.

While Rabiger is talking about documentaries I think what he is saying can apply to many genres of production.  And I think his words are more important today than ever before.

Consider the following:

Anything posted to the Internet regarding you immediately becomes permanent and considered the truth regardless of what the content is and who put it there. 

The Federal government is now considering enacting laws controlling access to and content of the Internet. Recently the Washington Post published a large article proclaiming that the Federal Communication Commission is figuring out ways to control the Internet.  And if the courts rule what they are doing as wrong they will simply call the Internet a public utility and regulate it that way.  To me the Internet is the last great bastion of totally free access.  Granted people can put up earth is flat web sites and holocaust denial web sites but we can put up our own web sites as well.  We have the opportunity to tell our stories to the world through the Internet and I would hate to see our access or ability to put up video or information changed or controlled.

More and more television and radio stations are becoming owned by fewer and fewer people.

Newspapers are disappearing at an alarming rate.

Big studio movies continue to grow in cost and seem to have a shorter life span in the traditional movie house.

So who is going to tell your story?  Who is going to tell our story? Not the Katie Couric’s or the Oliver Stones or the Mark Wahlbergs or the politicians or the other prominent people who control government and the media.  They all have their own agenda.  Through movies and documentaries we will tell our story.

What kind of mark will you leave on society? How will your work be experienced by an audience? 
I’m proud of our effort in creating “The Secret of Sarah Pennington.”  No it’s not an earth shattering change the world production, but it is one piece of the mark I am leaving behind. Most likely your productions will outlive you.  After all we can still watch movies made in the 1890’s. 

We can still watch early television programming

from the 1940’s and fifties.  Most likely people who starred in or worked on these productions have passed away. So your movies and documentaries should be carefully protected and positioned so they can always be experienced.

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