As an author I believe in the power of the written word. The written word, however, is rarely as powerful as film. For anyone with a story to tell, it is a constant battle for people’s attention. There are only so many hours in a day. If given the choice between learning about a subject by reading an article or book or watching a film, most people, including me, will chose to watch the film.
The documentary film Spent: Looking for Change is a good example of how film can convey a message better than any other medium. The film covers the subject of people trying to get by without the aid of the financial system. These people, for various reasons, are unable to qualify for credit. The film covers four sets of individuals striving to get by on limited income and an inability to get loans due to bad credit. It’s a situation all too common for many Americans. The truth is that we are all only one or two disasters away from being in the same boat.
While I have an interest in the subject matter, my real reason for wanting to see the documentary had more to do with my current interest in filmmaking. I was interested in camera usage, sound, lighting, and editing. As I was watching the film, studying the framing of certain shots and looking to see how certain shots were edited together, I found myself being more interested in the stories that were being told. That’s a good sign that the filmmakers had done their job. While I caught little things like a shot of an automobile driving down the road as seen from the viewpoint from the left rear tire, I also found myself paying attention to what was being said.
If you are studying documentary filmmaking, this film is an excellent example of how to craft a good documentary. If you want to learn how to get a message out to a wide audience, this film does that as well. The film was financed by American Express. Tyler Perry narrates. More importantly, the film is free to watch. You can watch it right here, right now.
I not only liked the film, I liked the thought and care put into delivering the message. It starts with a well produced and professionally shot film. Add a website and a social media campaign and free access and you have the recipe for success.