Documentary Mode 3: Autobiographical

In my life I have discovered that one of the hardest questions to answer is one of the most common ones – where are you from? Usually when I have been confronted with this question, I have to make an instant decision – do they want the short answer or the long one? Most people asking the question are looking for the location where you grew up. The truth is, in my heart, no single oneplace feels like home. For me, it’s more like eight places. I decided this honest reflection would be the perfect subject for my autobiographical documentary – an authentic look at the places that have made me who I am today; the places I call home.

I was born in Seattle Washington, where I lived for only a few months. At just six months old, I boarded my first flight to Bountiful, Utah, living on the hill with my family for six years. My family then moved to La Dehesa in Santiago Chile, where I began kindergarten and studied up through fourth grade. At age eight, we moved to Las Condes Santiago Chile, where my parents served as Mission Presidents. At a very young age there, I grew up surrounded by hundreds of missionaries, which felt like having several hundred brothers and sisters. At age eleven, my family and I moved to St. George, Utah, living there for two years. Next, we moved in Salt Lake City, Utah for another two years. It was the summer before high school when we moved to Guatemala City, Guatemala, where I spent my four years of high school. After graduation, I moved to Provo, Utah to study at Brigham Young University, where I currently am today. Home to me really means three different countries and eight different homes.

In class we discussed how autobiographical documentaries don’t necessarily have specific techniques or parameters. Autobiographical documentaries aren’t supposed to be shot one certain way. They are interpretative and meaningful to filmmakers, often relating to them on a personal level. Deborah Hoffman’sComplaints of a Dutiful Daughter, and Nanfu Wang’s I Am Another Youinspired me.Hoffman demonstrates an honest and vulnerable documentary that portrays life’s events from her perspective, showing the audience how she perceived and interpreted different situations and periods of her life. Wang illustrated emotions and experiences through re-enactments. She often held a camera observing the world all around her, documenting the moments as they happened. Stemming off of this concept, I presented my interpretation of home in my documentary by using maps, globes, atlases, audio, and royalty free stock footage.

I decided to take my audience on a visual journey through the places I call home, quite literally showing every step of the way including the sights and sounds of home, travel, and moving.  I introduced each new home with a visualization from Google maps, atlases, or physical paper maps. I was also able to get shots of the several exteriors of my homes around the world. Like Nanfu Wang, I wanted to recreate the feelings of the moment. I did this by implementing audio clips and sounds from each new place. Whether it was the heart monitor beeping in Seattle Washington, symbolizing the hospital where I was born, or the energetic Latin bands that played at street markets in Guatemala,, or the dusty wind blowing in St. George, I used audio to illustrate what those homes felt like to me. Alan Berliner’s Nobody’s Business, used a variety of sit down interviews, where different people voiced their points of view about someone or something. I thought this was an applicable approach for my documentary. Like the subjects in Berliner’s documentary, I voiced my interpretation of home through the autobiographical documentary mode.

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