Guardian article on documentary character

Here is an article from the Guardian website in their Sheffield Documentary Film Festival section.

The article is very interesting to a young film maker because it talks about the importance of the character-film maker relationship. This is of particular interest to me because we are at a stage where we need to building up rapport and a level of trust.

Vikram Jayanti, a documentary film maker, is quoted in the article saying that working with celebrities is usually painful but “always rewarding as a film-maker. Their vanity can provide a dynamic tension that gives a level of deep access that they are not aware of.” Whilst I am very unlikely to be working with celebrities this does give an insight into the importance of someones character when making a film about them, if they are your character because they have achieved great things or lived a lifestyle out of the ordinary they are likely to have the vanity that Jayanti talks about. I feel it is important to understand that their underlying personalities are so vital to the dynamic of the film being made, if the film maker understands that they do have a large ego they can engineer this to their advantage and gain a far more personal insight.

The article also goes on to talk about the level of trust that is required between the character and the film-maker. Adam Low, another documentary maker featuring at Sheffield, has recently made a documentary about the ‘notoriously shy’ play-write Alan Bennett and in the article explains that initially Bennett set out very strict access rules on agreeing to be involved with the project but once he realised the seriousness and the worth of the project he opened up hugely, even giving up pages of his personal diary for Low to use for his research and his film. This spoke volumes to me about how I must make sure the relationship between me and my character is always at the best it can be, that they trust me and respect what I am doing just as much as I respect them, it’s a two way process. Have a read of the article, it’s very interesting.

Here is the link again:


One Response to “Guardian article on documentary character”

  1. Mick

    Excellent engagement well documented and reflected on throughout the blog so far. It’s good to see original comments and the evolution of your thinking.

    When a decision is made on which character to follow you will need to tie up which style and approach to follow. Although this is dependent to a certain extent on who it is you make a film about your ‘vision’ needs to be continue to be honed into a personal style.


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