Mick and Keith, Andrea, Sam, Ben and Me

Mick and Keith, Andrea, Sam, Ben and Me

 

Last summer Andrea and I took our two boys to see the Rolling Stones in Orlando. It was one of the great nights of my life.

I had seen the Stones four times before, so hearing Gimme Shelter again wasn’t the real thrill, although it sounded as good as ever. The real thrill was being there with Ben and Sam, 18 and 20 respectively, and sharing our history with them, and our joy. They might prefer Kanye to Mick, but they knew they were watching something special, to me, to Andrea, and to the collective memory of 55 thousand screaming baby boomers.

The experience got me to thinking about the power of Docyoumentary, which is what I do for a living. When a person asks me to make a film about his or her life, he’s asking me to share the stories and moments that have mattered, with children and grandchildren. Andrea and I were lucky enough to live such a moment together with our boys. The joy of playing your Docyoumentary for your family is watching people who matter to you delight in what you have delighted in, and value what you have valued. With apologies to Mick and Keith, in this instance anyway, you can always get what you want.

DOCU-THERAPY

It never fails to amaze me how much better people feel about themselves after talking on camera. Now, I don’t mean giving a 30 second sound bite for the local news about a neighbor who’s gone bonkers. What I mean is settling in and telling their life stories on camera.     That can take hours, as it did recently for the docYOUmentary I produced for Hollywood actor Zack Norman.

“My story has gotten clearer, as I’ve talked to you,” Zack told me at the end of our interview. “What I came out of this with is an arc that I never thought of before.”

It wasn’t only Zack’s on camera interviews that helped him put his life in perspective. It was what I asked him to do before we even shot a frame: Think about his life and organize it into chapters, highlighting the most meaningful anecdotes and relationships along the way.

I’m not sure what Freud would say about it, but I do think the process of talking to a person and the camera behind him can be cathartic and clarifying, even if it’s not from a couch.