I am an indie filmmaker, writer, and photographer with a day job doing web programming. I studied photography and film at the University of the Arts in Philly, back when it was the College of Art, and there was no digital. It was all 16mm and way more cumbersome and expensive. I gave up on film but recently got back into it with the digital technology. I just completed post on a political feature doc called Got Healthcare? (http://outinthestreetfilms.com). I’m now looking for ways to distribute it.
I was greatly inspired by Arin Crumley when I heard him talk about how he made Four Eyed Monsters. I have a kind of premise and theory that anyone can make a film with nothing more than a camera and DV tape. So if you have a camera, theoretically you can make a feature for like $50. But of course you’ll want more equipment and so on. Anyway, I took on my documentary with just an HD camera, monopod, and mikes; no locations, no crew, no lights. So it was a bit more than $50 since I did buy the camera and a computer editing system. But still I got away (so far) for about $3000. I was also greatly inspired by Robert Greenwald and Michael Moore. I like the ease of making docs with so little overhead. But I’ve made a few dramatic shorts with actors too and I like that as well. It just takes a lot more resources to pull together.
The thing about doing political docs is that you almost have a built in guaranteed audience. Politics really hits a nerve with people and it’s one way to get their attention and interest. I also think that docs are not necessarily true to reality, and dramatic films based on true stories can be as powerful, and even more true to reality than docs on the same subject. So the idea of politics as a way to get an audience should work for dramatic films as well, and I think it often does.
With the presidency of George Bush and then the 2008 election between McCain and Obama, I became very interested in politics and took on a grass roots blogging stint with the Huffington Post. My involvements led me to make documentary shorts on the anti-war movement and healthcare reform, with interviews of street protesters, which eventually led to a feature documentary called Got Healthcare?. – Jon