Documentary Pulse: How a Film Moves with the World

A Refleciton by Drew Swedberg

We entered the 2020 Spring semester with momentum, coming off a full year [2019] of research, production, and collaboration. Process-centered work, relational work, that felt alive in the day-to-day and increasingly ever-present in our lives. It moved with the world, the routines as well as the unpredictable and unforeseen. Sometimes, production would occur seamlessly, with a scheduled event like a basketball game, a birthday party, a celebration. A time prepared and in our shared google calendar. Sometimes, production was spurred by a phone call or a text, with equipment readily packed and charged. This became the pulse of our work. So when the semester fractured, sending home our collaborators and halting in-person production, we moved with it. We found ourselves able to fall back on our values of process and care as a way of moving, especially as public health came to center and collaboration took on pixelated new life. Our trust in that essential part of our work kept the work and the collaboration alive. Our momentum was challenged, as life shifted in ways small and large. The immediate felt quite small in the face of something that changed with the hour. So we shifted, alongside our changing schedules, responsibilities, and geographies. Work was done remotely, in conversations, in digital tasks, in reading, and in pivoting to a plan to begin post-production as a way to continue the momentum of the film, to understand what is there and what is missing, and to continue to speak Parris’ name.

Note: Drew and Shalon are currently Visiting Fellows at Skidmore’s MDOCS Storytellers’ Institute, where they are virtually working on their film in post-production with a group of interdisciplinary artists and students. This summer they will be navigating a blend of production and post-production, as they continue to move with the time.

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