Transformational Cinema

What makes things happen?

Ideas and stories

Cinema, from the French word cinématographe, defines a process for capturing light on film in organized segments to portray movement. In the “Nickelodeon of Life,” we are constantly attempting to reframe the relationship of where we are: either in or out of “the box.” The operator or the audience.

Two Cooks’ Book. DVD Insert for a high quality cookbook. With Ron Oliver, Bernard Guillas, Cindy Epstein, Gregory Bertolini.

Jean Rouch famously redefined documentary techniques to merge subjective and objective perspectives, to create compelling audience engagement. We frame the story so you, the audience, are “there.”

Cinéma Vérité techniques

Cinéma Vérité techniques may be used to heighten drama, bringing major characters together in a single camera-space. This technique is used most often at script points reflecting crisis and catharsis, as it is capable of identifying or creating “Black Swan” events that reveal a “shift”.

Song on the Water, KCTS Public Television, Seattle. Over 240 airplays in 80 markets nationwide. With The Long House Association, Native American 501(c)3.


In anthropology, liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. -Wikipedia

Film as a Personal Experience

While working at Life Magazine (Time Inc.) as a writer and editor, (Robert) Drew held a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 1955, where he focused on two questions: Why are documentaries so dull? What would it take for them to become gripping and exciting?

He developed a unit within Time Inc to realize his vision of developing documentary films that would use picture logic rather than word logic. Drew envisioned—as he explained in a 1962 interview —a form of documentary that would “drop word logic and find a dramatic logic in which things really happened.” It would be “a theater without actors; it would be plays without playwrights; it would be reporting without summary and opinion; it would be the ability to look in on people’s lives at crucial times from which you could deduce certain things and see a kind of truth that can only be gotten from personal experience.”

From Wikipedia Robert Drew


RL | A, Cinéma Vérité. “Citizen Candidate,” “Code of Silence,” “Dead Men Tell No Lies,” “Who Are My People?

By example (see video above), we travel from Richard Aguirre’s citizen campaign for California governor, where the camera tells the story of a conflict over a campaign debate, to the “shot as a scene” monologue featuring Reverend Christopher Muhammad of the Nation of Islam (NOI) decrying asbestos contamination on and around the Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard.

USMC veteran Tim King and teacher Luanne Silva visit old haunts on the El Toro Naval Marine Air Station, now off limits, and we ride along. It’s an scene portrayed in three shots, with live, synchronous and improvised narration by the subject, Tim King.

Marine veterans mourn their fallen in a patient shot that shows us emotion “behind the curtain,” and a raw on-camera performance. The scene is then stripped of its facade, to reveal emotional essentials.

Finally, in one unblinking “master shot,” the federal government admits to not having all the answers about building on Native American sacred sites. From “Who Are My People?”