Transcript: The Lost Highway Questionnaire | Jul 13, 2021

A caption appears on screen with the words “TVO – DOC STUDIO.”
Then, a black slate reads “How does your work partnership operate?”

Now, Derreck Roemer and Neil Graham appear. They are sitting on stools; both are in their forties. Derreck has short black hair and a goatee beard. He wears a green polo t-shirt. Neil has gray hair trimmed short and wears a brown shirt.

Derreck says WE'VE BEEN GOOD FRIENDS
AND FOR SOME REASON
WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO
WORK TOGETHER, AS WELL,
WHICH OFTEN
ISN'T THE CASE.
I HAVE SO MANY FRIENDS
THAT I'D NEVER BE ABLE
TO WORK TOGETHER
WITH THEM.
AND THEY FEEL THE
SAME ABOUT ME.
SO, IT'S HARD.
I DON'T REALLY KNOW
HOW WE PULL
IT OFF.

Neil says IT'S A FUNNY THING.
BECAUSE WITH THE FILM
AT THE GLADSTONE
THAT RAN ON TVO, WE HAD
ONE OF THE PRODUCERS.
WE HAD THIS THING SET
UP AHEAD OF TIME
WHERE SHE WOULD BE - WHEN
WE GOT TO LOGGERHEADS,
SHE COULD CAST A VOTE
ONE WAY OR THE OTHER,
AS THE TIE
BREAKER ALMOST.
BUT WE NEVER HAD TO
USE IT THAT WAY.

Derreck says WE HAD AN
AGREEMENT.

Neil continues I DON'T KNOW HOW DIRECTORS
DO IT ON THEIR OWN, FRANKLY.
BECAUSE SOMETIMES IT'S JUST,
YOU'RE NOT ON THAT DAY,
YOU DON'T HAVE
THE IMAGINATION,
YOU'RE MISSING
OBVIOUS THINGS.
AND TWO PEOPLE CAN SAY,
WHY DON'T WE DO THAT?
AND AS SOON AS
SOMEONE SAYS IT,
IT'S SELF-EVIDENT.

A black slate appears on screen, it reads “What motivated you to become doc filmmaker?”

Derreck says FOR ME IT GOES
BACK TO TRUTH
BEING STRANGER
THAN FICTION.
THAT WAS ONE OF THE
MAJOR ATTRACTIONS
TO DOCUMENTARY
FOR ME.
BECAUSE WE DID, AS
I SAID EARLIER,
START OFF MAKING
NON-FICTION,
FILMS, ART FILMS,
AS I SAID.
WE MADE A SHORT
NARRATIVE FILM TOGETHER
WHICH WASN'T VERY GOOD,
OR VERY SUCCESSFUL.
WE WANTED TO MAKE
ANOTHER PROJECT.
AND WE LEARNED ABOUT
THE GLADSTONE HOTEL.
WE WERE LOOKING
FOR A NEW PROJECT.
AND IT SEEMED LIKE AN
INTERESTING STORY.
IT WAS A PLACE THAT
INTERESTED US.
THE CHARACTERS IN THE
HOTEL - THE REAL-LIFE
CHARACTERS IN THE HOTEL
INTERESTED US.
AND WE WANTED TO
MAKE ANOTHER FILM,
SO WE MADE A
DOCUMENTARY,
BECAUSE THAT WAS
THE GENRE,
THE FORUM, THAT
LEANT ITSELF
MOST APPROPRIATELY TO
THAT SUBJECT MATTER.

A black slate appears on screen, it reads “How would you describe yourselves as doc filmmakers?

Neil says WELL, I THINK WITHIN THE
REALM OF DOCUMENTARY,
THERE'S SO MANY DIFFERENT
ASPECTS TO IT.
AND THERE ARE FILMMAKERS
WHO ARE ACTIVISTS
WHO COME TO FILMMAKING
BECAUSE THEY WANT TO
GET A MESSAGE ACROSS.
AND I THINK DERRECK AND I ARE
REALLY JUST FILMMAKERS,
IN THAT WE WANT TO MAKE
THE BEST FILM THAT WE CAN.
WE'RE NOT OUT
TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
WE'RE NOT OUT TO TRY TO
EFFECT CHANGES IN THINGS.
BUT WHEN WE FILM, WE LOOK
AT IT AS ALL RAW MATERIAL.
YOU COME ACROSS THESE
STORIES IN THE WORLD,
AND YOU THINK THEY'RE
JUST SO REMARKABLE.
YOU JUST THINK
PEOPLE SHOULD SEE IT.
WE ALL HAVE TO
BELIEVE THAT WHAT
YOU'RE SAYING IS
IMPORTANT.

Then, a black slate appears on screen. It reads “What doc story are you aching to tell?”

Neil says ONE THING THAT INTERESTS
ME ARE THE SUBURBS,
THE IDEA
OF THE SUBURBS.
LATELY I'VE BEEN STUCK
IN TRAFFIC IN THE CITY,
AND BECAUSE
I DON'T COMMUTE,
I HAVE THIS IDEA
OF WHAT TRAFFIC IS
BASED ON ABOUT
20 YEARS AGO.
IT'S AMAZING THAT
PEOPLE ARE DRIVING
THREE HOURS A DAY.

Derreck adds YEAH, IT'S A MAJOR
ISSUE THESE DAYS.

Neil continues A MAJOR ISSUE
AND I THINK,
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE LIKE
TO WORK IN THIS PLACE
AND IT TAKES SO LONG
AND THE STRESSES
IT MUST ADD TO
FAMILY.
IT WAS INTERESTING JUST
SITTING THERE IN TRAFFIC
AND JUST LOOKING
AROUND AT THE CARS
AND THINKING, WHAT'S YOUR
LIFE AND WHAT'S YOUR LIFE?
AND WHAT ARE YOU
RUSHING TO?
AND WHAT ARE YOU
TRYING TO GET TO?
JUST IMAGINING
EVERYONE.
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW,
BEING STUCK IN TRAFFIC
IS LIKE BEING
IN AN AIRPORT.
EVERYBODY IS EITHER
THINKING ABOUT
WHAT THEY'RE LEAVING OR
WHERE THEY'RE GOING.
THEY TRY TO SORT OF
MINIMIZE THE PRESENT.

Derreck says THAT WOULD BE
REALLY EXCITING,
SITTING IN A CAR FOR
HOURS WITH PEOPLE.
A REAL ACTION-PACKED
DOCUMENTARY.

Neil continues SHOOT IT ALL ON
THE HIGHWAY.
JUST PEOPLE
SITTING IN CARS.

Derreck smiles and says SO, ANOTHER
HIGHWAY FILM?

Neil continues ANOTHER HIGHWAY
FILM.
MAYBE THEY'RE IN
THE CAR BECAUSE
THEY'VE GOT THREE
KIDS AT HOME.
MAYBE THEY NEED
THE ISOLATION.
MAYBE IT'S NOT
SO BAD.

A black slate appears with the words “What’s the best part about being doc filmmaker?”

Neil says ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS
ABOUT MAKING DOCUMENTARIES
IS GETTING OUT OF
YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
SO, ONE OF THE
THINGS THAT I LOVE
IS GOING UP TO
PEOPLE'S DOORS
AND JUST KNOCKING
ON THEM.
AND SAYING, WE'RE
DOING THIS FILM.
IT'S TERRIFYING
SOMETIMES.
AND YOU'RE NOT ALWAYS
WELCOMED, UNDERSTANDABLY.
BUT I GET A REAL
THRILL OUT OF THAT.
BUT THEY SEE
THE TWO OF US.
AND WHEN WE FILM, IT'S
JUST THE TWO OF US.
AND SO IT'S NOT LIKE
YOU'RE ADDING THIS-
SOMETIMES I THINK IT'S -
WHAT HAPPENS IS THERE'S
THIS GREAT INTIMACY WHEN
IT'S A SMALL GROUP,
WHEN THERE'S TWO OR THREE
OR FOUR PEOPLE TALKING.

Derreck says THEY WANT THEIR
STORY TOLD,
THAT'S WHY THEY'RE
IN THE FILM.
THEY'RE DOING IT
FOR FREE.
YOU MAKE A COMMITMENT
TO YOUR SUBJECTS
TO TELL THEIR STORY.
SO, EVEN IF THE FUNDING
DOESN'T COME THROUGH,
I COULDN'T IMAGINE JUST
STOPPING AND SAYING,
SORRY, FOLKS.
WE'VE BEEN HANGING OUT
WITH YOU FOR THREE YEARS
AND INVADING YOUR
PRIVACY FOR THREE YEARS,
WE'RE NOT GOING TO
FINISH THE FILM.
WE'RE NOT GOING TO
TELL YOUR STORY.

Neil adds YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE
COMMITMENT TO SEE IT THROUGH.

A black slate reads “Can you earn a living making docs?”

Derreck says WE HAVE TO DO
OTHER JOBS.
NEIL'S THE EDITOR
OF A MAGAZINE;
I SOMETIMES CONTRIBUTE TO
THAT MAGAZINE AS WELL.
I'LL WORK FOR OTHER SMALL
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
DOING ANYTHING FROM
SEGMENT PRODUCING TO
DIRECTING A SEGMENT
OR WHATEVER.

Neil says WE'RE NOT COMMERCIAL
FILMMAKERS.
WE'RE ARTISTS,
WE'RE CREATIVE PEOPLE
BUT AS A SOURCE
OF REVENUE,
THIS MAKES NO SENSE.
WE DO IT BECAUSE
WE WANNA DO IT.
AND WE DO IT THE WAY
WE WANNA DO IT.

The end slate appears on screen. It has three images of the same yellow chair and the words “docstudio.tvo.org” are shown.

Watch: The Lost Highway Questionnaire