Documentary Idea and ‘Going Clear’ Reflection

For my documentary, I plan on going to a craft fair this weekend. Similar to the farmers market documentary shown in class, I’ll ask a few of the vendors if they would mind telling me a bit about their stand, and maybe why they decided to start it. For b-roll, I’ll film the crafts and tables that they have set up, as well as the fair in general. I hope to get shots of people milling about (without faces) and whatever else the craft fair has in store.
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The documentary I watched was ‘Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief’. This documentary was different from the others I’ve watched, as this one was very cinematic. The shots of the people being interviewed and most of the b-roll are all properly lit and nicely framed. Even the older, grainy flashbacks taken with inferior cameras were edited nicely and enticingly. There were stylistic zoom ins of eyes and hands fiddling with odd technology. This is much different from the real, nitty gritty feel of ‘Gasland’. It also inserted many still photographs from that time, something that ‘Gasland’ didn’t have that much of either. Although this could be seen as boring in other documentaries, I personally like the switch up between old film, new film, and still pictures.

It’s very interesting to learn that Scientology is so rooted in Hollywood. I had no idea that decades ago, they had bought a building in Hollywood solely for the purpose of recruiting stars into their religion. Seeing John Travolta, at such a young age, absolutely star eyed over the cult is eerie. It’s also chilling to see just how much it impacted him, for better or for worse. Whatever advice or brainwashing he received there seemed to propel him into another state, and gave him the energy (or connections) to land the roles he wanted.

It was also incredibly scary to learn that these people were brainwashed to the point of delusion. Their cult apparently has different levels, and the people on the highest level are said to have special powers. This includes everything from telepathy to telekinesis. To have a belief system so powerful that it convinces you that the average, everyday human is somehow capable of defying physics, all because they climbed up the rungs of a dysfunctional, man-made ladder, is mind boggling to me.

The fact that the Church of Scientology is worth at least a billion dollars is shocking to me. Although Scientology is known all over, I had always thought that it was a rather exclusive, sparsely populated cult. I knew that many Hollywood stars had been in it, but not how many stars had been in it (and still continue to be). In fact, I didn’t even think that it was that popular with regular, run of the mill people, but I was horrified to see that all the people being interviewed were people just like me. It’s frightening to know that these hardworking, normal people became brainwashed.

Overall, this documentary was very enlightening and interesting. I feel that I learned a great deal not only about Scientology, but also the different ways of shooting a documentary. This one was much more deliberate and thought out in terms of shots and interviews, whereas ‘Gasland’ was more organic and free flowing. I enjoyed seeing the various ways to film one.

 

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