I know we just met, but…can I meet your grandma?Posted in Project Blog by Juvie
Filming for a month in Mexico was a weird experience. I’m still not sure what to think of it, or how to process it. I’ve been in a strange state of apathy/malaise ever since we returned to the states. It’s a lot of work to be “on” for that amount of time. I did not anticipate the emotional energy the trip would require, and I had no way to prepare for it.
Arriving in a new city, meeting anyone new, I had to assess what their pre-perceptions were of me—skater, American, “movie star,” from the biggest league in the world—and find a way to get past all that, find a way to cut through it so I could begin to relate to each person as a fellow human being. Then I had to assess their own personality and make-up—how can I most effectively relate to them? How can I get them to trust me? What kind of person are they? Will they be able to relate to us authentically, even when the camera is rolling? Are they involved with us because it seems glamorous and cool, or because they actually have something interesting to contribute to the project? Something unique or interesting to say about themselves, their culture, the sport, the world? Then after all that work of cutting through perceptions of me, cutting through the awkwardness of having just met, the difficulty of language and cultural barriers, their own personality quirks and defenses…then I had say, “Hey, now let me crawl into every corner of your life, and can I meet your grandma? Can I ask you about your very personal life views and goals? Can I ask you about crazy lofty cultural and political ideas? Oh, and can we get a ride to practice?”
This wasn’t just about interviewing people. It was about connecting with people in a very direct and intense fashion, over a long period of time, and with many, many people. That’s exhausting and confusing. It’s hard to negotiate that landscape. At the same time, I am just who I am. I’m living and breathing and experiencing; making friends, navigating social dynamics. Trying to walk the line between fitting in and being boring. There’s a lot of expectation to provide excitement. Everyone wants to throw us a party, to take us to do fun and touristy things, to go out of their way to show us a good time. Which is lovely and considerate. But it’s also out of their ordinary; it shifts the way the women interact with each other. It puts us in some special category—visitors, filmmakers, celebrities, special, different, important—when what I want to capture is exactly the opposite.
There is a lot of trust required for this sort of project to fly. It takes a lot of faith for a person to let perfect strangers into their lives, into their hearts and hopes and dreams and most philosophical thoughts…and then to let them go and hope they will make something beautiful and meaningful from it all. And there’s a lot of pressure on the other end not to disappoint or misrepresent the people who placed that trust in you, who were willing to open up and become friends and partners in such a short time and under such crazy whirlwind conditions.
And that’s why I can’t give up on the project, no matter how difficult or overwhelming it feels. I can’t bear to disappoint those wonderful people, I can’t bear to let their trust go to waste. I want to do my best to honor that trust and to keep on keeping on until I figure it all out.