Sunday, August 26, 2007

Documentary Film

The week before Orientation we received an email from Patrick Kennedy alerting us that documentary filmakers, Christine O’Malley and Patrick Creadon, would interview us and film the activities of the school in order to ascertain the value of making a film about the new face of public service.

Patrick and Christine are producers/directors of the critically acclaimed documentary, Wordplay. Wordplay chronicles the world of crossword puzzles and puzzle enthusiast. The film was the second highest grossing documentary film in 2006, behind An Inconvenient Truth, and was nominated for an academy award. You can learn more about the movie at: www.wordplaythemovie.com. The pair's current project is an indepth look at the national debt.

We were soon to learn that, while two of the biggest names in documentary film, Patrick and Christine are the also two of the most gracious people you'll ever meet. As an added bonus, tall-as-a-tree TJ Hemelbein was with them working on the project. As it turns out, TJ is one of those sublime introverts that is a very cool person once the veil is lifted.

With many things in life, we may know them intellectually or philosophically but are surprised by their reality when we encounter them experientially. What I am trying to say is, there is nothing like having a camera in the room all the time to teach you the reality of documentary film. One of the team was with us through almost every moment of orientation: lectures; the spaghetti and marshmallow tower-building team-building experience; receptions; pizza at Gusano's; the Travs' baseball game; you name it, they were there. Most of the time I believe that most of us successfully ignored the camera. Every once in a while, however, you'd turn around and find yourself staring down the barrel of the lens.

As evidence of the magic of talented filmmakers, I was totally relaxed during my individual interview. Most of the class reported the same. Patrick asked me about my decision to attend the Clinton School, my perceived responsibility as a student, and my opinion of my classmates. I guess that being an expressive extrovert served me well in this situation, because the moments flew by.

The grapevine has it that the project will move forward. The production schedule resumes in October. It will be great to have Patrick, Christine and TJ with us again!

What a great opportunity for the Clinton School and a chance to show the world why public service matters.

Tonight, I'll be watching Wordplay.

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