How I Approached Being A Documentary Filmmaker In Cuba

Recently I was asked a question:

“How was filmmaking in Cuba, and how did you go about the project, from a filmmaker perspective?”

It was an interesting question, but not one I hadn’t heard or been asked before. Most of the time, especially from my fellow students at the time, filmmaking was a pre-orchestrated process. You had everything scripted out, knew exactly where a person would be at a certain time, and had multiple takes and camera angles to get the story you want told correct. Documentary filmmaking is RAW though, it isn’t like that.  How I approached being a documentary filmmaker in Cuba is much like any filmmaker approaches their project: I told them that it’s all about knowing why you’re there.

A couple years ago, I was interviewed for this documentary film I was creating, which is still tentatively named “A Lesson In Diplomacy.” I was asked a similar question in the interview, which was conducted by my co-producer, Gordon Alderink, a professor and a member of the baseball coaching staff at Grand Valley State University. He was also the only filmmaking contact (in regards to the actual team assembling this film) who was with me in Cuba… twice, actually. In the video clip above, I tell a short story as to how I went about filming this exciting journey, without getting distracted or caught up in the moment of being in a completely different place than I had ever been in before.

Keep in mind also, that I went to Cuba TWICE for this film. This interview was shot after the first trip only, and I didn’t even know or expect that I’d be going back a second time when answering the question. This same exact approach had to be taken again, just 7 months after going the first time.

Charlie Pryor

Charlie is a media producer, writer, and a traveler. He grew up in Michigan, all of his life and attended Grand Valley State University for a B.S. in Film and Video Production. He's married to a wonderful woman named Hang, and simply hopes to one day turn himself into a man that many will remember long after he's gone.

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