Just to be clear at the outset, I don’t know how many reasons I’ve got all together — but there are a LOT of them!
Reason #17: Learning New Things!
When you make documentary films, you are always facing the next new film which almost always means the next new thing to learn about. This is true whether you’re about to make a film for a client or a film that you initiate yourself.
To be an effective and responsible documentarian, you have to learn about each subject relatively quickly; you can’t take four years to get a degree in it. Yet, you must be able to treat the material accurately, make it interesting, understand both the specifics and the bigger context, separate the truth from what someone might want you to believe — all while telling a story that you make relevant to your viewers.
Challenging? Yes, to be sure, but oh so exciting! This is why I so often tell people that I worry someone will discover how much fun I’m having and make me stop!
How else would I have learned about the true history of the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest? The valiant determination of youngsters with HIV/AIDS and their families? The bipartisan legacies of Bob Dole and Howard Baker? The resilience and strength of abused women in Georgia? The commitment and sacrifice of the first men to hit the beach on D-Day and their loved ones? The impending end of leprosy on earth? The heroism of a single Afghan woman in service to the women and children of her country? The curiosity, compassion and capabilities of middle school children in Tennessee? And so much more…
Mine is not a particularly secure profession (understatement!). But I’m allowed to meet people who share with me what matters to them most. I myself am invariable changed by these encounters, and that experience enriches my life more than I can tell you.