geo geller

February 25, 2022


Filed under: — GeoGeller @ 8:21 am

Hi Sean et al
Re: “Other Side Of War” – war seen through eyes of children / as adults we glorify war but for children it’s far from glory /  and “Soldiers of Miss-Fortune”   / propose some questions to ask while in the field  ( see questions and links below)

First of all saw guardian UK article that you are in Ukraine making a film / 
below is few things that I have learned as a listener and doc filmmaker that I learned from lived experience as a one man band, documentarian / 

Fyi I have been called an obsessive documentarian in an Edward R Murrow for best Feature News NPR Documentary that I contributed too that I filmed the subject, for 15  years, about a guy who spent 20 years in mental hospital / in a marijuana induced delusion, took his mother’s life / and has the keys to my apartment too / so as Spencer Tracy said when the audio guy asked him to shoot a scene again / Tracy went up to him and said “That took me a lifetime to do, get your shit together” or something like that and what I write below took me 77 years to write and is something’s I think you might resonate with

“A good talker is a better listener” is what I learned / being a documentary filmmaker it’s the one lesson I have learned after years of being hard of hearing what people say since I transformed from an interviewer to having conversations with people / I enclose some question  to think about in the course of a conversation  / 

Fyi As a 77 year young Mad-Hattan based documentary filmmaker, who suffers from an incurable social conscious dis-ease / I try and create thought-provoking content which led me to explore the voice of the voiceless, as Pablo Neruda wrote “Speaking through a Dead Mouth” a line in one of his poems, translated into English / I think, actually,  it came through Bill Murray’s mouth back in the 1990’s at Neruda NYC Poetry House Event /that sent me on a 22 year adventure  that I have never recovered from

I make documentaries and Myth-U-Mentaries (I’m a contemporary myth maker but that’s another story) I make docs for people who aren’t born yet; as is my work in progress 
“Other Side Of War” – war seen through eyes of children / as adults we glorify war but for children it’s far from glory /

 and documentary in progress “Soldiers of Miss-Fortune”  – in the end its not about the soldiers but about us! and what fortunes some front line warrior’s, since before forever, might have found about themselves, about empathy, trust and community; and why they keep on re-upping / and what we as individuals and as a society can learn and teach going forward  / food for thought among others

I’m here to suggest some questions and strategy 
Strategy is be a good listener and especially follow up question which shows you are not only listening but you care / also I would not have big cree and lots / try shooting in natural light and I prefer to have good natural audio with some background noise so it’s real and not in studio / audio more important that video (could always do voice over with B-Roll) / try and have everything rolling from start to finish and not a lot of distractions / the goal is to have them leave their bodies and go inside themselves  (to hypnotize themselves) and think about how to feel their way through the mind-field of your thoughtful questions 

1 – for children after you have their attention / listen to their thought process and ask them “are you worried about something is going to happen to your mother?  And what will happen to you? (fyi which turns out to be huge fear children have that I recently learned from another one of my documentary subjects who is pediatrician in a hospital for special needs kids too)

2- what’s going on around you, are you worried, afraid of? What do you think/feel? / what do you and your friends talk about?

3- what’s it like at night? What do you do in the dark? Do you play any games or tell stories? What foods do you miss, what’s your favorite food?   / What’s all this like for you?

4- if you were a parent what would you tell your kids? and what would you tell your parents about what you need from them too

5- listen listen and ask follow up questions related to what they are saying / take your time / don’t rush you will get more moments beyond the usual when you aren’t sandwiching people in a dead line 


So on a strategy for Soldiers on the front who usually have lots of down time sometimes / again don’t rush, relax and they will relax / if you are anxious and sandwiched get rid of your crew, they are a distraction / make sure you have extra hand held camera good audio back up system with lav mic and shotgun backup and on sennheiser shotguns you can catch your audio voice in back of  mic  / you have to raise the gain but you can figure out / you can have your own independent lav mic and wired audio capture system too and one man camera set up / I never had a crew they were always a distraction and one on one is always best case scenario / I also never have questions as I hate interviewers who don’t listen and are rushing to next question /  try not to use lights as you might get good visuals depending on person but you might not get those nuggets, those moments beyond the usual because you were looking for perfection / an amazing doc is about imperfections to me / hmm

I also suggest watch J’accuse! Abel Gance’s original 1919 silent in which most of the actors were real soldiers who went off to the Battle of Verdun and died / from Wikipedia J’accuse! is a 1918 silent film and 1938 with audio French war film directed by Abel Gance It is a remake of the 1919 film of the same name, which was also directed by Gance Gance!_(1938_film)

So again minimal camera crew and or isolate you in front of a black curtain if you need crew and but your goal is to get moments beyond the audio / in filming legendary doc filmmaker Albert Maysels / we would talk about fighting turning the camera off because invariably when you turn camera off they say some nuggets so keep camera rolling for how ever long you are there and then when done turn camera on self and debrief yourself and make sure you get enough ambient sound / never have enough / leave space and pause and one of my best moments in a work in progress doc “Alchemist Chair” about a hair stylist who brings out the beauty in people / in the black, you hear her walking for 15 seconds picks up phone and you hear her making an appointment and walk back 15 seconds to the chair when the video starts / it’s those little Vizual Poetry, moments beyond the usual when subject is quiet and the audience is suspended in time and nothing happens that’s magic / Les Blank and Albert Maysles were master Vizual Poets / Albert had A.D.D and never went in and Les edited with the wonderful Maureen Gosling

in my work in progress documentary Soldiers of Miss-Fortune – i was working on “The State of Empathy” documentary when i ran into a group marching on the 5th anniversary of Occupy Wall Street / zuccotti park / and they turned out to be a group of Irreverent Warriors who were marching from Central Park / many of them were carrying 22 pounds of bricks on there backs to represent the 22 veterans a day who commit suicide a day and use Camaraderie and Humor to Combat Suicide but in filming them about what they were doing and why it occurred to me that they had something we who have never been in the front lines of war and in the free world have know idea about the trust and relationship they have with each other and “Would Take a Bullet for each other” / i don’t know anybody who would do that / do you? / and so i was jealous of them and watch my work in progress film

hopefully this makes a difference in what you are doing and you are welcome to contact me but its not important / and neither is credit / if it makes a difference 

oh i just tweeted this and thought you might resonate with it as well 

#Ukraine many of the russian soldiers didn’t know they were on combat mission & have abandoning ship & uniforms / Ukraine should let russian soldiers know they are not alone and have minds of their own and they can stop the war/insanity one person at a time 

be well
geo geller

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