AJ Schnack is conducting interviews with as many of this year’s documentarians as possible and posting them to his excellent, must-read blog All These Wonderful Things.
Here is an excerpt from the interview with Jeremiah.
ATWT: Of all the genres of nonfiction, the “film about my parents” always seems the most fraught with danger. You run the risk of thinking that what’s interesting or damaging to you may not be so compelling to audiences. But your father chose to be extraordinarily open for your camera. Was there a point during his confessionals to you that convinced you that you had a feature length film on your hands or – knowing your parents – did you have a sense from the start?
Jeremiah Zagar: I like to think of this film as a documentary love story that just so happens to be about my parents. In other words, the reason for making it was never personal. I started when I was 19 because my mother asked me to film my father — I think just because she felt we should spend more time together — and I did it because I trust her. I never expected it to amount to anything.
Then about three months into shooting, I took my father down to West Virginia where he would be isolated from his work and from my mother. Here, he began to speak to the camera in a way he never had before. It was extremely intimate and funny and sometimes a bit terrifying. We were supposed to stay for ten days but after five my father couldn’t take it anymore and we drove home with thirteen hours of really good tape. I watched the footage over and over for the next three years, picking out my favorite moments and stories. What became clear from the footage to me and my producer Jeremy Yaches was that we could make some beautiful, surreal scenes using 35mm cutaways and that if we had a verité narrative arc maybe we could combine the surreal with the hyper real to create something exciting and hopefully new. So I went back to Philly often and shot my family, waiting for something to happen. And eventually something did.
Read the whole thing.