Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

Documentary filmmaking duo share professional experience

Saeed Husain
Chief Copy Editor

Documentary filmmaking duo Tom Donohue and Dominique LaRoche visited The College of Wooster last week to share their experiences shooting films in Cuba, the Galápagos and the Arctic. Both filmmakers were part of two sessions. In the first, they showed and talked about their films, while in the second, they sat down with students to learn and answer questions about student projects.

Donohue, an Emmy nominee for his work on Afghanistan, has been a part of several film productions and worked for PBS, The Discovery Channel and National Geographic. LaRoche, a French-Canadian journalist, has written for several publications.

Donohue and LaRoche currently run CineWrights, a company that takes amateur filmmakers to locations such as India, Cuba and Thailand, where participants learn how to produce, shoot and edit film on location.

In the first session, titled “Explorations in Documentary Film,” Donohue and LaRoche showed three of their films and later discussed the various aspects of making a documentary film.

One of the films they showed was “Julio de Gibara,” from a CineWright expedition they took to Cuba in April 2016. The six and a half minute short followed the story of Reiner Hernandez Silva, a cookie-seller on the streets of Gibara, Cuba.

Reiner would attract customers by singing, with his vocal prowess bringing him more fame than his cookies. This led him to being called “Julio” by the townspeople, after the Spanish singer Julio Iglesias.

It followed LaRoche’s philosophy of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. An ordinary person was found with an extraordinary talent in singing.

In the student session held the following day, Donohoue and LaRoche individually asked each student about their interests and the types of films they were keen on creating. They also encouraged students to submit to the growing number of film festivals that wanted documentary shorts made by students, terming them a good platform for self-promotion.

In an interactive session, the filmmakers answered any questions the students had.

LaRoche, answering a question about building trust between the subject and the filmmaker said, “People want to tell their own story, but they’re afraid to do that because they’re afraid that they might be judged. If you create that trust, they will open up.”

On filmmaking in Cuba, a country only recently opened up for Americans, they were asked if they felt pressured to create a specific story on the island nation. LaRoche commented, “It’s hard to be objective because you always have an angle, and that creates a separation between human beings. That’s why I choose to be a storyteller instead of someone just reporting facts.”

She then talked about humankind being closer than what most think: “You could be from Cuba or the United States, but still have a connection.”

Talking about the filmmaking process they have with those who go on their CineWright tours, Donohue said, “You don’t know the country, but within a few days you connect with the people, find that unique story and ultimately make that movie.”

The event was organized by Dr. Greg Shaya, associate professor and chair of the department of French and Francophone studies. It was sponsored by the Program in Film Studies at The College of

Wooster, the Cultural Events Committee and the Hayden Schilling Fund in the depart

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