Q&A: Filmmaker Theo Anthony discusses the intersection between monitoring and policing
On April 20, Derek Chauvin was found doing murdering George Floyd. Cities across the nation breathed the sigh of relief on hearing the verdict, the culmination of the year-long racial reckoning that sparked discussions of systemic racism plus injustice in the United States.
The catalyst was a nine-minute-and-29-second video, circulated on social networking and rewatched in courtrooms, filmed by Darnella Frazier on her cellphone. Although it was Frazier’s video, not police body cameras, that eventually held institutions accountable, the latter have been a key part of the much larger discussion about public surveillance.
The intersection between camera surveillance plus policing caught the attention of filmmaker Theo Anthony pertaining to “All Light, Everywhere. ” He began working on the skin flick after the 2015 killing associated with Freddie Gray. It is Anthony’s second feature documentary after the 2016 “Rat Film. ” The new project, which debuted at Sundance, centers around Axon Company, a private organization that claims to be “transforming public security with technology. ”
Opening theatrically on Friday, “All Light source, Everywhere” takes viewers with the history of cameras, including earlier uses, of such as strapping them on pigeons, and the modern state of God’s-eye surveillance that monitors areas of color.
Why did you want to get this to documentary?
I think a lot of my function, just going back to working as a journalist and getting my very first documentaries, I have always been interested in the power aspect between people behind and front of the camera. As my career developed, We sort of started to see that this was a way that was also possibly very productive [for] this conversation of who gets to be seen plus who gets to do the seeing.
Just how did you learn about Axon Company?
I was living in Baltimore, after the killing of Freddie Gray in 2015, it had been just this flashpoint of a national global conversation close to policing. One of the big stuff that was being floated was [for] every police officer to have a body camera, and am did not know anything about body cameras, didn’t know anything about this company Axon. When I started investigating, to find out that Axon was previously called Taser and that they produced these [electroshock] guns, I found that link between gun and camera compelling and has been even more surprised to see that this was a connection going back towards the birth of photography and cinema.
The documentary contains screen recordings of you editing or recording behind-the-scenes footage which usually breaks a fourth wall between the viewers and the documented. What was your reasoning for the?
There’s a very specific type of skin flick that has its roots in these ethnographies that went together with colonial exploits in the past due 19th century. That’s the main of what we think of since the modern documentary, that leads directly into propaganda films and around the world wars, that voice of God. You aren’t actually meant to stop and think, “Oh, well, who is telling me personally this information? ” So with this particular film, and especially a film that talks about body cameras whose authority lends itself to the fact that you don’t actually see the person behind the camera, all of us thought that it was really important to incorporate, as much as possible, myself, without this making it about myself. And we had to include me although not necessarily make it about myself.
A person made a choice not to show the footage of sufferers throughout the documentary and to keep it specifically on officers or even people selling these products.
I think that will there’s a lot of reaction to that will where people want to listen to more of the specifics with the George Floyd case or hear from people on the other side of surveillance technology. I don’t even want to say victims, it is almost kind of like, bowing to a certain kind of designation. But I think that there’s plenty of filmmakers, especially white filmmakers, making films about individuals of color who are generally the targets of this militarized technology. While those stories are really important, they so often limit the portrayal associated with Black life, of Latinx life, of any other demographic, just to being targets or even victims. However important plus true that may be, I feel want there’s just such a broad spectrum of representations that require to be put out there. So our response to that was properly, OK, here’s this really important thing that is affecting people’s lives. Why don’t we just make this about the perpetrators and not the victims? Therefore the point was to really kind of turn the camera close to and really focus on the people in back of the camera, and that includes the authorities, that includes Axon. It includes us sometimes as well.
Did it ever cross the mind the meta-nature of the skin flick that’s making an argument regarding cameras while recording using a camera?
Absolutely. I think that which was like, not even a small component, but actually, maybe, the main part of the film for us has been trying to figure out how to create as well as how to make commentary with the really tools that we’re critiquing. A lot of films or works will frame a subject, plus our subject is actually the frame itself. It definitely seemed, over four and a half years, the film was in risk of totally eating its very own tail and evaporating.
You include an epilogue of students learning about filmmaking, after deciding to move this from the main piece? Why was that?
This is a film about perpetrators, not victims. Seeing this in that large cut, close to the final cut, we had to take a step back. And this was in conversations with friends plus filmmakers and artists and people who saw the film and were reacting to what they saw on screen too. So I have to credit plenty of my friends who really offered a lot of guidance on this. It was just something that at the end of the day, even when these kids were just this possibility, or this joy, or this hope that was in between the themes of all these kind of violent weaponry and histories, we were nevertheless placing them at the additional end of that. You have a shot of someone pointing a gun, then you have a shot of a kid like, you know, it’s simply montage, right? Like that’s just the way that those images work together; you’re placing that person in the position of being a victim. And that was against what we were trying to perform.