December retreat; reflections on humility

This weekend was an opportunity to revisit the presentations and workshops I saw last year. Rather than feeling redundant, it was a great learning experience to take in old information with a new perspective, new experience, and a more trained eye. Last year I had ambitions to use many elements of artistry in the aesthetic of my documentary, but when it came to piecing together the final product I found I did not have the materials to make many of my ideas work and there were a lot of things I would have done differently in setting up the shots. Last night, revisiting Jason Mittell’s presentation on film and interview choices caused me to think more deeply and reassess how I can make my product visually better. Now that I understand the process of creating a documentary and I feel more stable in my approach I can take steps to refine those skills and achieve an outcome which possesses a more professional and artistic feel. I found watching Got Guilt? And Hair really inspiring in how they both achieved a very sophisticated and striking look. I am really excited to work with Lena on the second documentary in her series.

When reflecting on the topics of psychological safety and moral humility I see a lot of parallels between them. The article states that self-righteousness as an approach to solving a conflict creates a fight or flight reaction from the other person. This is the opposite outcome I am looking for when I don’t want people to feel defensive or to shut me out. When it comes to any kind of activism, but especially animal rights activism, activists are stereotyped (not wrongfully so) as intensely passionate and morally righteous. The tactics that many activists take when trying to express their concerns/opinions on an issue are protests, rallies, villainizing meat eaters, telling people they’re wrong, etc… I find these methods and behaviors extremely off-putting even as a vegan and I know that they are only effective at preaching to the choir and cementing an image of crazy hippies. With this project I want my message to be clear, convincing but not forceful or morally righteous.

Despite its many flaws, It’s not the dairy/meat industry’s fault that there are a market and demand for their products. I don’t see the workers as villains but as victims, consumers cannot be blamed for being unaware of a system which is purposefully hidden from them. Though I do believe in corruption in business and the greed of large corporations, I want to ask for change without blaming anyone. The viewers of my future documentary aren’t villains who must be forcefully converted into heroes, they are community members who I hope to reach in order to make a difference.

Kati Tolgyesi

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