Whether working independently or as part of an established organization, documentary work is full of challenges, a trio of filmmakers said while sharing their experiences with convention attendees Saturday.
The Doc Maker’s panel featured a married couple reporting for Current TV -- Mariana Van Zeller and Darren Foster -- and the independent Sarah Singh.
Zeller and Foster produce half hour documentaries on international affairs while
Singh recently finished a feature on the partition of
Singh detailed the struggles of independence from a well-known and well-funded channel or production company. An artist by background, Singh described her a film as a challenging process of discovery.
She and Van Zeller and Foster detailed the struggle to reach
the eyeballs of audiences, especially those in
Working for Current TV means that Van Zeller’s and Foster's content has an audience. Singh however has had to work harder to get her film in front of people. She currently has been promoting the film at festivals across North America. Van Zeller and Foster have a somewhat easier path toward viewers, but because their content isn't heavily reliant or closely tracking ratings, it is hard for them to decipher exactly what films of their viewers flock toward.
Van Zeller and Foster, however, have a complex challenge to tackle even with their exposure through current TV: how to get Americans to shift their gaze from the stories of Britney Spears, Michael Jackson and Jessica Simpson to those of unrest, conflict and the human experience around the world.
Still, the pair is hopeful, believing that the interest is international news is there but remains an unfulfilled void within the news industry.
Singh, however, is perhaps more realistic, saying that as the large media corporations in America are driven by ratings that international coverage would like take a back seat to more entertainment-based news.
-- By Sweta Vohra, University of California at Berkeley graduate student.