Empathy for a Tech Addicted Filmmaker

So much of my quest to become/remain a relevant filmmaker and freelance videographer lies in my addiction to figuring out what’s the latest and greatest/next great thing in prosumer video technology. Notice how I didn’t say “professional” as if I were in the class above freelance videographer, I’d just buy what I want… RED Epic, Sony F55, Arri Alexa… whatever was needed for the job. But I digress… This addiction (or obsession) like many others, is based on anxiety. An anxiety of never wanting to be left behind. Part of it is not wanting to have any excuses for losing jobs or getting passed over for things I want to do, but so many people do great things with the tools at hand. A DSLR, maybe a GoPro. So sometimes your tech means diddly squat. If people get millions of hits off a VINE… pixelated photos of meaning less micro videos of young people lighting themselves on fire, banging their heads on things, and whatever else they do… it’s not about the tools they’re using. It’s about content. In these cases they’re aimed at the stupid laughs they know people want. I’m not here to rant against cheap forms of entertainment, as I indulge myself in them now and then.

But this is when we really start talking story, story story. It’s all about the story. We hear this so much from some great places like Stillmotion and Story and Heart… what is the essence of a good story. We can also discuss many “mechanical” elements to a good story. What are the devices that we use? How do we organize things? But that still very much sounds like the language of technology, even though we’re not even talking about helpful software and other writing technology use like our laptops and tablets we might use for writing.¬†

I’d like to reduce everything down to the power of empathy. I think we see a lot of disparaging examples in “the media” of a lack of empathy all around us. Whether that be in recent officer involved shootings, tensions in Ferguson, MO, with the militarized police. Or maybe with the military strikes in Gaza, and even the comment sections of your favorite websites. Empathy is definitely lacking, and that is one easy power you can develop, ability¬†experience in listening and the patience and effort to really understand the story you’re trying to tell, before you tell it. And as I sharpen my technical skills in shooting and editing, never forget about what I think has gotten my here, the ability to really connect with the stories that I tell and empathizing with those in my documentary films in order to tell their story the best I can.

So it does come down to this: empathy is the ultimate storytelling technology.

And here is my recent favorite gif, Death Metal Van Damme and Bolo, from someone’s understanding of people’s desire to revisit their movie memories in absurdist ways!

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