A Journey of Whys to My Passion for Documentary

I love filming documentaries...but why?

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If you’ve been following my monthly blog, then you’ll know that four weeks ago I arrived in Nova Scotia to film a documentary about the Harmony Bazaar Festival of Women and Song. You’ll also know that the decision to make this trip also has me asking lots of questions – not about the decision to take this trip. On the contrary, I am incredibly thankful to be out here in beautiful Lockeport, meeting such lovely, friendly, and welcoming people, and getting the opportunity to tell what I feel is a really compelling story about community building and resiliency.


No, I’m not questioning the decision to come to Nova Scotia. But making the decision to jump into an adventure such as this one definitely has me plunging back into my bad habit of questioning why I’m even pursuing documentary in the first place.


One of my accountability partners gave me the idea of trying out the ‘11 whys’ exercise to try and drill down to the ‘true’ or ‘deepest’ reason for why I am pursuing documentary. This exercise is really simple. All I have to do is keep asking and answering why until I feel like I can’t ask why any more. So here goes!

This isn't about how or what...it's about WHY!

1. Why do I want to create documentaries?

I am curious about, and find beauty and magic in, the varied experiences and thoughts that make a person who they are. I want to capture that beauty and magic and share it with others.


2. Why?

Because it can be hard to see beauty in others and in ourselves.


3. Why?

Because my society’s current focus seems to be on pain and suffering. We (myself included) more regularly express what’s going wrong in our lives and our societies than what’s going well.


4. Why?

I think perhaps because our society has been experiencing so much change in such a short period of time and humans don’t seem to like change.

What compels me to film during a pandemic???

5. Why?

Because change is often a threat to our survival.


6. Why?

Because our survival is dependent on being able to know and navigate the world around us, and change causes our knowledge and navigating abilities to become less reliable.


7. Why?

Because change shifts what is ‘accurate’ knowledge and what is ‘inaccurate’.


8. Why?

Because human knowledge is superficial and based entirely on the limited and biased information we can gather through our physical existence, even when that existence is extended or ‘enhanced’ through the tools that we create, like a stick for capturing ants in a log, or the languages we devise to share knowledge between physical bodies. As a result, our understandings of the world are currently (and may always) be limited by our biology.

Is it possible to truly know others?

9. Why?

Because we cannot step outside of ourselves. We are locked in the proverbial box of our physical selves, and no tool that we have can currently unlock that box in a way that allows us to truly experience and comprehend the life of another.


10. Why?

Because we have not discovered the power to swap physical existences yet (although, even if our consciousness could enter the physical self of another entity, I’m still suspect that we would be able to understand the other…because we would still be trapped in our unique perspective by our consciousness).


11. Why?

Because, in the way we currently understand our existence, our consciousness is basically what allows us to understand and have a sense of self. Thus, how would we perceive self in other if self were not there to perceive other? In which case, is it ever truly possible to understand other?


And yet, to bring us full circle to the initial question and answer, I am still fascinated by and compelled to investigate the lives and experiences of others. So I suppose, with documentary, I am attempting to understand others to the extent possible, and perhaps, because consciousness impacts my perception, it is actually ultimately about attempting to understand myself through comparison to others? Wow, is that what this is all about?


Certainly an interesting experiment. What do you think?

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