Non-Fiction editing and Brian Hill

In Baker’s recount of Brian Hill’s career – Brian Hill the Musical Documentary (2012) – a key point raised early in his career was that of editorial clarity and sensitivity. Unlike fiction works, non-fiction works are in fact of real people, who have lives outside and away from the narrative of the project on hand. At the same time, non-fiction works can still undergo traditional production methods, such as selective filming, biased narrator and juxtaposition in editing, etc.

For example, in the Sylvania Waters case, the matriarch was shown to be at a hairdresser whilst her grandchild is being born. Whether or not this was the case, the fact that on screen it was depicted as such, shows the power of editing in the post-production process, and in meaning making.

In my non-fiction project, my partner and I have been very upfront with our subjects and with the owner of the location of the shoot: we will show them work in progress clips, and show them samples of writing as well, because we both believed that they should be happy with the material that is being transmitted of their selves and their livelihoods. Of course, this may not apply across every non-fiction project, but for the most part, if the subject is made to feel comfortable knowing their story and identity is safe, and they feel to be a collaborator rather than a name on a piece of release form, then they may even provide better material for the project.

Baker also brings up an interesting point when recounting Brian Hill’s later work, The Club. Here, editing was done sophisticatedly, and with a great mind on what meaning is being created with the particular parallel editing style. Editing in non-fiction work does not necessarily have to be an unavoidable evil – there is room for creating narrative without inserting the filmmaker (or docu-maker) into the story. In The Club, music, images and juxtaposition are said to be utilized in such a manner as to create both tone and style for the project, but also a sub-level narrative on social class in England without having the subjects or a narrator say so. This is a unique way of creating meaning, because in most contemporary documentaries, if there is meaning to be inferred, often times there is a narrator to explicitly state that meaning. While The Club does use a narrator who speaks directly to the camera, the narrator is also still a character within the story, and is in no way omniscient or detached.

Non-fiction documentaries require a special kind of attention when filmed and edited, because there is an inherent assumption that whatever that is being depicted is ‘real’, and so the meaning that is made through the media materials have to be treated with delicacy, or if it’s a negative piece, with sophistication.

Can someone turn the happiness on?

Why am i not happy like I used to be? I used to be able to have long happy thoughts and memories, my imaginations full of fun things we could do, have done, should do, so forth. Now it’s hard for me to think happily. Despite myself, I keep hearing a darker voice telling me to see the worst in things. To see the glass as half empty instead of being grateful for the water I’ve been given.

And I should be happy. It’s not from the person I’d originally thought, but I’ve gotten everything I ever wanted in a friend. And all I could do to her is complain about how she’s not the person. I should just cut the crap. I’ve been given a pretty good run for the past weeks and a pretty good run coming up for the holidays.

There are three letters I want to write before the year is out. They’re each to Bianca, Carmaine, Dani and Eunice. I want to thank them, in a lengthy manner. But I don’t even know where to start. Last year Carmaine wrote me 2 simple pages, A5, and in less than 200 words she’d struck the chord, and given me a message I still keep in my wallet. I should be able to do the same. I should be able to write the same kind of things so easily. But I can’t even find the voice that I write with.

Last night I had a long and, let’s face it, depressing conversation with Dani. Well, no. The topic of conversation was depressing, but I felt more relaxed and comfortable and…content than if we were talking about plans for the summer holidays.

There was just one other moment when I was content, and that was when I was at Bee’s house, lying in her lap while she was…trying…to study for History. Just watching the Flinestones and feeling her breathing.

I’m not happy or content unless I’m with someone else, these days. I personally depress myself. I can’t stand the crash back to reality after my dreams end.

De Fluffe, Out.