Transcript: Big tips for short docs: Charles Officer on building trust | Sep 17, 2018

Charles is in his thirties, with short curly brown hair and a stubble. He wears a black sweater.

Charles faces the camera and says STEP ONE IN BUILDING TRUST
WITH THE CHARACTERS
YOU'RE WORKING WITH
IN DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING
IS TO PUT DOWN YOUR CAMERA.

A caption reads "Put down the camera? That’s right."

The caption changes to "Charles Officer. Filmmaker, Unarmed Verses."

Charles says WHAT IT MEANS IS TO TAKE TIME
TO LISTEN, ENGAGE,
AND TO BUILD A RELATIONSHIP
WITH THE SUBJECTS
THAT YOU'RE WORKING WITH.

A clip rolls with the caption "Credit: NFB."

A young woman with curly brown hair holds a phone near her mouth.

A man on the phone says WHERE'S GRANDMA?

The woman says GRANDMA'S ACTUALLY RIGHT HERE.

The man says OKAY. IS SHE OKAY?

The woman says YOU OKAY?
SHE SAID YES.

Charles says FRANCINE VALENTINE IS THE CORE
AND ESSENTIAL HUMAN BEING
IN
UNARMED VERSES.
WHEN I WOULD SPEAK WITH HER,
I COULD BARELY HEAR
A PEEP OUT OF HER,
HER VOICE WAS SO LOW
AND SHE IS EXTREMELY SHY.
BUT THE FEW WORDS THAT WOULD
COME OUT OF HER,
WERE ACTUALLY JUST LIKE,
PROFOUND AND AMAZING.

Francine writes a piece entitled "The black cat" and says HE'S TALKING ABOUT
HIS SOUL BEING BROKEN,
BUT "TOMORROW I DIE,"
AND THEN LATER ON
HE SAYS, "THEY."
HE'S TALKING ABOUT
OTHER PEOPLE,
BUT HE STILL USED
THE WORD "SOULS,"
SO DOES HE MEAN
OTHER PEOPLE'S SOULS
OR PEOPLE AS IN JUST PEOPLE?

Charles says YOU HAVE TO SPEND TIME
WITH SOMEBODY TO
ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND
WHAT THEIR BEHAVIOUR IS.
YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT EVERY DAY
THAT A CAMERA'S ON SOMEBODY,
SO HOW DO YOU BUILD A
RELATIONSHIP SO THAT THEY,
THE CAMERA KINDA DISAPPEARS
IN THE PROCESS?

At a recording studio, a coach says FRANCINE, C'MON.
C'MON, PLEASE?
I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT.

Francine says IF I CAN DO THE CHORUS,
BUT I FEEL REALLY NERVOUS,
THEN CAN I NOT DO IT?

The coach says YEAH.
ARE YOU READY?
OKAY, WE'RE READY.

Francine says I THOUGHT IT WAS WARM-UP,
I THOUGHT THEY COULDN'T HEAR ME.

The coach says WE'RE READY,
WE'RE READY, SWEETHEART.
(GROANING)

The coach says THEY JUST GAVE ME THE SIGNAL,
WE'RE READY.
OKAY.
YOU CAN'T DO IT?

Francine takes out her headphones and says I CAN'T DO IT.

Charles says UNARMED VERSES
IS ABOUT
FINDING YOUR VOICE.
ALSO, IT'S ABOUT HOW
PEOPLE OF COLOUR
FROM A CERTAIN ECONOMIC SPACE
ARE TREATED.

A caption reads "Unarmed verses take place in a Toronto Community Housing area called Villaways. In the film, the neighbourhood is slated for demolition."

A woman says ALL RIGHT, EVERYBODY.

Francine says VILLAWAYS IS
DIFFERENT PUZZLE PIECES
THAT SOMEHOW FITS TOGETHER.
I'VE SEEN THE WAY PEOPLE LOOK
AT COMMUNITIES LIKE THIS.
IT'S LIKE WE'RE NOT GONNA GROW
AND BECOME SOMETHING.

Charles says AND BUILDING TRUST
SPECIFICALLY WITH,
AT THE TIME WHEN I MET FRANCINE
SHE WAS 11,
WHEN WE STARTED FILMING
SHE WAS 12,
THERE WERE DAYS WHERE AT TIMES
WHERE SHE STARTED TO PLAY UP
TO THE CAMERA A LITTLE BIT,
AND I WOULD JUST
TURN OFF THE CAMERAS,
AND I WOULD HAVE
A CONVERSATION WITH HER.
THE TRUST THAT YOU BUILD IS
THE PROCESS OF
LETTING YOUR CHARACTERS
KNOW THAT
HOW THEY'RE PRESENTING
THEMSELVES IS OKAY.
THAT YOU'VE CHOSEN
TO WORK WITH THEM
BECAUSE OF WHO THEY ARE,
THAT YOU DON'T HAVE TO
DRESS IT UP,
THAT THEY ARE ENOUGH.
THAT'S GONNA BE WHAT
YOU SEE ON CAMERA.
YOU'VE GOTTA START YOUR DAY
EVERY TIME YOU'RE BACK THERE.
YOU ARRIVE A LITTLE EARLIER SO
THAT YOU'RE NOT JUST SHOWING UP
AND THROWING THE CAMERA
IN THEIR FACES,
YOU CAN ACTUALLY ENGAGE
AND CHECK IN WHERE THEY ARE,
AND IT'S NOT
A DISINGENUOUS THING,
IT'S LIKE WHEN WE SEE
PEOPLE THAT WE CARE ABOUT,
WE WANNA KNOW
HOW THEIR DAY WENT.
THIS IS THE RELATIONSHIP.
IT'S NOT COMPLICATED
TO DO THAT.
SO THAT IS WHAT I FIND IS
THE WAY THAT YOU CAN
GAUGE YOUR TRUTH
AND THEN WHAT YOUR SUBJECT
OR CHARACTERS ARE
ACTUALLY PRESENTING ON CAMERA.

(music plays)

A black slate appears with the caption "TVO.org. #TVOShortDocs."

The caption changes to "Produced by Matthew O’Mara and Chantal Braganza."

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