Completing Longterm Projects
In the last eight years, I’ve directed two feature-length documentaries, We Can’t Eat Gold and Veins of Resistance. Building on my print, radio and multimedia reporting, I stick with some of my stories for years to capture characters’ struggles as they happen. Leading these longterm projects, I’ve learned scores of skills that I’ve needed to finish my films. Generous crowdfunding paid many of the professionals who I’ve collaborated with. I’m grateful for the many people who have volunteered their talents. Even so, the impetus to take these films through each stage on the way to completion has been my own. Carrying my commitments to fruition, I grew not only in my abilities to facilitate shared creative processes, but also I came to rely on myself more, to learn how to meet each challenge that I faced to get people heard.
'Going to Where the Silence Is' and Staying
I seek comments from stakeholders on all sides of the topics I tackle, listening for people whose lives illustrate unfolding events. I focus my resources on communities who are not being heard, from the Alaska Native Elders and youth living off the road system in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, who I profiled in We Can’t Eat Gold, to Indigenous Mapuche communities occupying lands taken from them by Chilean timber companies in Veins of Resistance.
Returning year after year to communities in conflict, I build relationships and grow my access. Hearing about events before they take place - instead of after the fact, I record intimate and decisive moments up close. Insights from years of carrying these commitments aid me as I craft stories, in which characters relate the long emotional arcs of intergenerational traumas and struggles in their own words and actions. For example, by regularly returning to the shanty towns of Santiago, Chile’s St. Francis Land Occupation to film for Veins of Resistance, I recorded families daily lives over three years of their courageous and desperate fight for dignified housing alternatives and through their evictions - when the municipality ordered the simple homes they had built for themselves in the camp to be demolished.
Intrepid Frontline Coverage
When I’m faced with danger and discomfort, I’m still moved by chances to capture stories in action - rather than always in the abstract. I’ve become a careful and experienced calculator of risks, so that I can continue to lift my camera to help audiences feel frontline events and relate to the hazardous realities that many people regularly face unheard.