You DO exist.
It is not what I expected, SMYL. I thought we’d make some nice little videos and then we could all go home.
But what “at-risk” is is in my face. Just saying: like all the time.
It did not occur to me that so much of it would be dangerous. There seems to be a cultural conspiracy that says you are the property of parents (some of you are) and families. Some of you are on your own. Some of you are runaways. Some of you live on the street.
I have videos of kids in Rio — gangs of them — stealing stuff at night, and the cops chasing you. I can’t use those. I know the argument is that crime is why you are AT RISK. But crime is a line in the sand. Sex is another line in the sand. I don’t want to see you having sex with adults or even one another. I will not cross that line. That doesn’t mean you can’t find symbols in filmmaking that mean these things and you can make those metaphors powerful. In fact, as filmmakers, it’s your responsibility. I’ve been literally making film for fifty years. It’s not that I care what the audience thinks (trust me). It’s that I care about drawing lines in the desert sand all over the place that say: they will not shut us down if we jump over here and then over here and then across this new line they’ve laid down. I am still here and everyone else I used to know — activists, all — is dead. It’s that simple. I had no fucking idea that Show Me Your Life would deal with life and death issues. But your issues are life and death issues and there it is. Those of you in London are being affected directly by making what has once been the carrot and the stick (education, jobs) no carrot and the stick is one the cop has. I hear you. What I believe though is that your corporations are your government because they are everyone’s government.
All of that makes you a filmmaker.
Some of you live in places that are shit holes. I see that. But consider this:
One young female filmmaker in SMYL was living in a squat. It had been condemned. All kinds of kids lived in there. She took video of cop cars rolling by. Those cops knew that place was overflowing with homeless kids. Their ignoring it and rolling by was a problem. I rejected those shots but they wound up going around anyway. Be careful about who you share with. Those cops came back and beat the shit out of her. Now she’s back out on the street and turning tricks.
Many of you have stories that have real people in those stories who do not want those stories told.
Sexual abuse is far, far more common that I had assumed. And many of you have filmed your guts out in the process of demonizing daddy. Often, he’s a metaphor for someone else.
Mine was a doctor. I was ten. Strange, I didn’t even know what he was doing. But I know now.
This shit just happens. In life.
I have heard from you (loud and clear) that you almost resent my not posting a lot of video.
You’re just too good at this.
You made him into a monster. Okay, so you did it. But now you have to live in the same house, the same family, he does. And I just don’t want what you’ve done to him on the Internet because he has to live with himself. You WILL get out. It happens. It’s going to happen to and for you. You have made some dangerous and guerilla video and in some cases I would question your safety. I have to live with myself, too. When Mose was killed, he had a camera. Remember.
The reason I am posting this video called Standing Your Ground is because as photographers — and each and every one of you is am photographer — the kids in Show Me Your Life have sometimes come up against the same exact issues concerning filming in public that adults confront. Please note: this is a video about adults, concerning adults, filming other adults. When a minor is involved as the photographer, the response is far worse. Mainly because minors essentially have no rights. Even if the kid in question has been adjudicated as emancipated. No security guard will believe it. Security guards are the worst. They are far more apt to bully to get what they want. Cops will even sometimes read THEM the riot act if the photographer is following the rules. Basically, the rules say you can film in the public domain but not on private property. As we all know, even if you are across the street, security guards will start coming out of the walls to grab you.
The PlaySport is not a phone. It takes great video. But it’s a camera. Even if some of you guys are pretending it’s a smart phone. You are speaking into an lcd screen. I suppose people do think you are on the phone and not filming them when you are filming them. I do have a Nikon I can upload to the Internet immediately; it’s just posting through email. So sometimes I can haves the images on the Internet before the security guard is able to reach me.
You can always be nice and leave. They are going to tell you that you CANNOT film their buildings. Yes, you can. If you are not on their private property. With an adult, they are going to simply try to intimidate. With a kid, they call the cops 100% of the time. If you do not leave, be prepared to deal with the police.
Everyone will want your film. You will not have film. Explain that you deal in digital content and you’ve already uploaded (I would never tell you to lie) to the Internet, and they are too late. Then, they will demand to know who you are working for. They will usually assume that your project is a school project. Tell them about SMYL. This seems to calm them some. I have no idea why.
One thing they will get real physical about real fast is being filmed while they are bullying you. It’s your call. Is it worth it. Is this building or this street worth the hassle in the telling of your story. Your call. You keep telling me you can handle responsibility even with cameras. You now have that opportunity. Some of you can and some of you can’t. I don’t do pep talks. I am not a pep talk we can all do this kind of guy.
It’s one thing when an adult wants to sound like an attorney, and I am here to tell you that when a kid does it, the security guard WILL put his face directly in your face.
This is how it works. People think telling these stories is easy. They simply have no idea. Just like when some of you do arty vids, people have no idea the work that goes into it.
In the video posted, I love the property manager who is slick enough and smart enough to invite the photographers inside. If it had been me, just saying, I would definitely have gone on that tour just to see what shots I could get. But that’s just me. Most of these locations are dull and boring unless the sight of a bunch of suits is your thing.
And let’s face it, if suits were your thing, you would not be here.
If you cross over the line onto their private property, they will bust you. Good luck on finding your camera when you get released.
So take a look at how adult photographers are dealing with the same issues. And then go out there and film what you are compelled to film. No one ever said it would never be dangerous. This is the cultural conflict over what is private property and what is the public’s right to know. The recent riots in the UK have made a lot of people with private property to worry about nervous. They don’t like the idea of an underclass that appears in any way similar to A Clockwork Orange. They want to rip people off in plain sight without being hundred in the quest for corporate profit. They own YOU. You do nor own THEM. And they will play a rough form of rugby if you want to push them. You push them at your peril.
The security guards who work in these buildings are existing as much at the bottom of the cultural barrel as most of you think you are. They’re making the minimum wage. They have little real authority. Their corporate masters tell them exactly how high to jump and no one jumps an inch higher. Their job is to intimidate you and they know how to do this. Okay, so now let us pretend you are now out and about and among the rioters moving from location to location. My subjective advice to you would be for you to get as close to that as you can so you can learn to understand the tools and how that works. This would be the technology. Not necessarily from the inside of a looted, burning store. I’m your audience. I want to know how that kind of communication works so I can do that. I want a piece of it. I already know what a burning building looks like. Show me your life.