Waiting for Superman - Starring Davis Guggenheim

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Waiting for Superman: Starring Davis Guggenheim by Brette Ragland

My project is a portrait of an artist.  Documentary filmmakers intentionally push themselves and their techniques into the background in order to keep focus on the story they are trying to tell. What I wanted to achieve with this project was simply bring to light the process of documentary film making which is often hidden.  The story that Guggenheim worked so hard to produce is gone, and all that's left is him.

My video is at times difficult to watch because the style of short clips one after another goes against the immersion techniques we've come to expect from films.  But this aspect of my video buttresses my intention because it doesn't allow the audience to forget the process behind documentary making.  It reminds viewers that (in this case) Guggenheim set up the camera, asked questions, and in many other ways constructed a story.  It also calls attention to my process and my voice as an artist, and had it not done this, the project would be rather hypocritical.   

I do not wish to critique Guggenheim or Waiting for Superman with this video, but rather illuminate the construction -- by illuminating the constructor -- of documentary. 


I chose Waiting for Superman simply because it employed a documentary technique I was interested in: the use of an unseen interviewer asking audible questions to interviewees.  

I edited together all the instances in the film where Guggenheim's voice is heard, he is seen, or his name appears in the order in which they appear in the film. The original film also employed a voice over by Guggenheim where he explains the facts and figures surrounding the issue, but this voice was crafted and intentionally presented to the public in a carefully thought out way.  I considered including these clips in my video, but ultimately decided against it because I believed they would have made the intention of my video muddy.  I wanted to highlight process, and by including clips so processed in and of themselves, the audience would have focused on the content of Guggenheim's voice over as opposed to the voice itself.  Beside, if I had included these clips, my video would have been well beyond 30 minutes in length.  

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