Happenings, Thoughts, Reviews, Inspiration

Documentary Filmmaker Ethan Vincent blog post's. Thoughts from the Road and Production.


Recently commissioned to direct an hour long documentary on the Austrian tradition surrounding "Fastnacht" or "Fasching" (bad translation, Austrian Carnival), I again marveled at the diversity, beauty and variety of this small country. Each person and region carries its own unique flavor, accent, ritual or tradition related to Fasching.

With the help of my ambitious production coordinator, Elena, with Neulandfilm, we were able to scout each location and meet almost every person in advance, which helped the loose documentary scripting process tremendously. Pre-camera proximity always offers two things: pre-visualization, of course, but also familiarity. The later is about relationships, trust and a greater understanding for the candidate, mainly illuminating us, the people behind the camera. Having the luxury of a well-respected TV station backing you up, accounted for the opening of many doors, but access wasn't everything. Skill, preparation and interview techniques helped lead our players towards eloquence and created an environment where their personalities could truly soar.

Passionate people engaged in keeping a tradition alive is a fascinating thing. Having deep roots, a strong heritage and a sense of place and self, are all admirable attributes to me, but to a certain degree quite foreign as well. I envy it greatly against my better judgment, knowing just how constricting such overcommitment would feel to me in a small town. And yet, seeing father and sons crafting masks together, families so fully invested with a sense of belonging did stir something inside. 

One of the logistic challenges we faced, was concurrent Tuesday carnival events throughout Austria. But with three film teams out at the same time, we were able to capture our main characters during the Fasching parades. I was with my usual dream team and again walked away with the knowledge that three people is ideal for documentary production. More than that is too crowded, too needy and too big.

Now comes of course the mountainous task of editing. Bit by bit.