Stepping Out From Behind A Camera

Shooting in KamloopsSomeone asked recently asked me how I was brave enough to step in front of the camera for Father Figures.

To be honest, I didn’t really think it all the way through.

When we started development of Father Figures, Gillian and I expected the POV (point of view) portion to be a simple reaction to what was happening. Once we were a few days into shooting, we realized that the POV portion was a major part of the story.

The other element is that my career is working with everyday people appearing on camera. I ask people questions and hope they answer honestly. Because I expect that from every person I interview, I had set the bar at the same level for myself.

The final factor was that it was a small crew — just Gillian Hrankowski and me. Most of the time we were sleep-deprived, jet-lagged and physically and emotionally exhausted. I don’t have it in me to not be totally honest, and having my friend, who knows me absolutely to the core, interview me would mean everything would easily come out.

I don’t regret my openness. It is who I am. But there is a very surreal feeling meeting someone who has seen the documentary and feels a connection to me. I’d compare it to reading 20 pages of a diary — an intimate snapshot of a fraction of someone’s journey.

Now, people who see the documentary hug me. I’ve had heartfelt messages that my story resonates with them. From my openness, they are more willing to discuss their own similar issues. Heck, the documentary, and my issues, were the topic of a University Psychology discussion. What stood out for the students was my ability to let go and move on.

It wasn’t easy. Father Figures is only 57 minutes long but it is the result of almost two years of filming and over 100 hours of footage. What the documentary couldn’t show was how hard the “recovery” was. To say it was a difficult time would be an understatement.

The interview in the airport after the meeting with my father was the beginning of a dark time. We paused the production to give me time to figure stuff out. I leaned a lot on friends and my family. Went to counselling. And cried. A lot.

While I processed, the cameras were off. When I was stronger, we returned to shooting and telling the story.

When I returned to see Dale, I was a much stronger person. I was no longer needy of him. I had gotten perspective. Gillian, of course, noticed immediately. To the viewer, the transformation may be more subtle.

While Father Figures shows a lot of my journey, issues, weaknesses and strengths, I hope that people understand that it is only a portion of who I am. I hope that my openness propels people into discussion of the issues we present in the documentary.

Knowing now what being in a POV truly means, I would do it again. The payoff is a pretty interesting discussion on issues I feel are important and overlooked.

And to continue the diary – I no longer have a relationship with Dale (since Bali) and I am living happily ever after.