After much teasing and not so subtle hinting (i.e the lecture about documentaries the prior week and assigned documentary reading for the brief day) on what the 72 hour challenge would be, we were finally briefed revealing that our task was to make a documentary in 72 hours… shellshocked, truly.
In all truth I was hoping for this kind of task and it did not disappoint. Leaving us students from different backgrounds and skill-sets to our own devices and working together is a great way for our creative thinking to flourish as well give us a real feel of the industry, putting us under strict deadlines.
The brief in detail was to create a documentary for an audience with a 5 minute duration under the notion derived from the crowdsourced documentary Life in a Day (Kevin McDonald, Ridley Scott 2011). The notion was that we had to document the life of something which could be a person, place, object, animal etc. In doing this we were to use any combination of the 5 modes of Documentary but all in all this task allowed us a great amount of freedom.
Diving straight into it, me and my group set ourselves to work immediately on a basic idea/premise for our project. After a fair amount of delibiration we settled on the idea of the Holy Trinity Church in Coventry centre which was further motivated as someone in my group happened to have spoken with a welcomer there whom they found to be an interesting and friendly guy, so we specifically targeted to interview him as a basis for the documentary.
The Welcomer was a man named Earl and after making all the necessary preparations in getting permission to film and interview the Church staff on the first day of the challenge, we finally got to talk to him. After the interview we’d all realized that our documentary should not be about the church at all but it should be about Earl, as after talking to him for an hour or so, his inspiring story in combination with his warm personality, good hearted nature and willingness to co-operate was something much more powerful to document than the church. There was little to no debate among us in making that decision.
This had effect on the mode as we had initially set out to make an expository piece on the history of the church but ended up making a reflexive/poetic one centered around Earls story and how the Holy Trinity has played such an important role in it. The message of the documentary to me centralizes around triumph in the face of adversity and maintaining hope in dire circumstances. It is an exploration of the human psyche and it’s dealings with sorrow and the fear of death, but also with it’s ability to muster the strength to carry on through such hurdles.
I’m very happy with the finished product but I’m even happier that we were able to discover a very interesting story in speaking with Earl, which in turn made the whole process of creating our documentary a breeze… excluding the usual rendering/technological issues and late night deadline push till 4am.
The Documentary A Day in The Life of Earl.