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Cary Fukunaga

Exploitative nature of filmmaking

28 Jul, 2015

Fukunaga comments on need to protect the people he has worked with:

Films of this nature have the potential to affect not only the lives of the viewers, but also the lives of the participants of the production. As a filmmaker, I am aware that I am not in the public service; my first job is to be a storyteller. However, the subjects of some of my films have blurred the lines between this tenet and the intrinsic responsibility to protect the people I have worked with and come to care for, a responsibility born from the inherently exploitative nature of filmmaking. Both Sin Nombre and Beasts of No Nation tread on real and current sociopolitical subject matters. In order to tell the stories authentically, I had to cast real people, street kids, often without parental support or guidance, as well as former combatants and a whole cadre of non-professionals.

The result is far more impactful, but the participants have very little concept about how their lives are about to be changed by the production and the attention that comes following a film’s release. A film can be an incredible opportunity for a young actor, but it can also be a once in a lifetime anomaly. The concentrated focus of attention and, sometimes, modest monetary gain are short-lived and often leave the subjects awash in confusion and depressed once it’s over. I don’t think any filmmaker is responsible for every person who took part in their stories—no more than journalists are—but they should be as giving as possible and paternal and accessible once everything is over. There is an ethical obligation to give back, sometimes in time, sometimes in money, but more than anything, in preparation.