This is the paragraph where-in I mention how tough this particular episode was. And — as always seems to be the case – this one was indeed difficult. In fact, the basic subject matter alone made the whole thing feel like a minefield. In its most elemental form this month’s film is a piece about the ‘9/11 Truth Movement’ that has sprung up centered around the belief that the terrorist attacks of September 11th were actually orchaestrated by the US government. At the same time the piece aims to neither put forward the 9/11 Truth theories nor pass judgment on their beliefs, and wants to do all of this without using any footage from September 11th.
That’s a tall order, but those constraints speak to what we’re trying to do with this one. I have no interest in disproving various conspiracy theories, nor do I have any interest in re-hashing the events of that September day (once was too much to begin with). Rather my interest with this piece was to find a group that had a shared sense of having found the truth and an intense need to share this truth with others.
What that specific ‘truth’ is, is irrelevant. My hope was to be able to convey to the audience the fervency and urgency that accompanies a deep-held feeling of possessing the truth when others around you are ‘unconscious’ or oblivious and how this feeling changes the possessor’s life.
Now that that’s out of the way, a note on the style of this piece: one of the joys of doing Sparrow Songs is being able to try out different stylistic approaches, interview techniques and constructions with each film. For much of the first half-dozen we’ve employed a kind of gentle still-life approach that works to use the existing exterior world to illustrate the interior world of the people with whom we’re speaking. This month’s episode feels like a bit of a departure (to me at least).
Early on in the project Michael put me on to Errol Morris’ First Person series that was made for IFC. With this piece, on some level, I was looking to ape his approach less because I want to mimic Morris and more because I wanted to see what I could learn from it. To this end, one big lesson came early on: any time you put the camera directly between yourself and the subject it immediately creates distance and tension. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing if that’s what you’re going for, but it was interesting to feel the difference between sitting behind the lens and sitting next to it.