Friday, February 26, 2010

11/04/08 and participatory filmmaking

On 11/04/08 I voted, went to work and celebrated a bit too much at the end of the night when Obama took the stage to announce he'd won. Jeff Deutchman and more than 20 other filmmakers documented the entire day, from 8am til 4am the next morning, and the resulting film, called 11/4/08, is about to premiere at SXSW very soon. I was lucky enough to be among a small group invited to see the film in advance yesterday, and I can highly recommend you see it there or at another festival or screening soon. But this isn't a review post, but rather is a note that what Jeff is doing goes well beyond just telling a story of which we know the ending.

Jeff's idea came to him just a few weeks before the election. It was likely to be an historic moment, which it became as Obama became the first black president. It also turned out to be historic for other reasons - the turn out from young people, the places that turned blue, etc. But as many of us can remember, this wasn't a given, so Jeff's team could have ended up documenting the defeated hopes of so many supporters for all they knew. Jeff wanted to catch the day regardless of the outcome, and he asked friends from around the world to document their experience of the day, send it to him and he would "curate" a film from their footage.

More than 20 people, from accomplished indie filmmakers to amateurs, agreed to take part. Some filmed their own experience throughout the day, others captured organizers pulling out the vote, some went with the major crowds others just their own families and friends. Jeff calls the film a piece of "consensual cinema," and while you see the vision of multiple filmmakers shining through, it has been edited to his own rhythm. BTW, it interestingly let's you experience your own version as well, in a way, but that's for a review piece.

Jeff isn't done, however, with his participatory cinematic experience. He's still collecting stories online at the project website, and he's encouraging people to upload their footage, or their complete films, and to take the film's footage, remix it and upload their own versions for everyone to see. It's a great way to collectively re-participate in the experience. This is something that might make McCain supporters gag, but hey, they can theoretically spin their version as well, and I am willing to bet one of the more interesting results will be when that happens.

Anyone who reads this blog knows what a big fan I am of those who embrace the new, participatory culture and this film is an interesting way to use it for the recording and re-telling of history. Check it out when you can and spread the word. Oh yeah, as you can see from the image, there's a Kickstarter campaign you can help with too.

1 comment:

Mike Hedge said...

I'll be out at SXSW for this film.

Can't til I get ATDS done. gonna be awesome.