How are you? Happy New Year to you and yours, I hope that this is the year of your dreams and the best decade of your life so far.
Welcome to our blog! Over the past year and a bit that Documinute has been around, I have received a lot of emails and private messages that are often of the same nature or are asking the same questions so I thought perhaps a blog was in order so I could share more about our lives, adventures, process and thought patterns. I won’t be writing a post every week, but I’ll try to make sure I pop in here every now and again to keep you in the loop.
Since we are at the very beginning of our blogging journey together, I thought I would share with you something that I have only shared with a handful of people so far…but first a bit of back story:
6 years ago I applied to attend New York Film Academy (NYFA) and was accepted into the 1 year Documentary Filmmaking course on a partial scholarship. I worked for years to raise the tuition required and never was able to get even a bit close because of our local currency. A year and a half ago I decided to put what money I had saved into buying gear and to just start making 1-minute Documentaries. When Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York came to South Africa in November 2018, I reached out offering to work for free and showed him some of the documentaries I had made and he took me to task. On the day of filming, between interviews, he asked me about my project and backstory, and after hearing a tiny bit of it he asked to feature me on Humans of New York. What I didn't know was that he would put a link to Documinute (my 1-minute documentary project) on the post and overnight I amassed over 50 000 followers across Instagram and Facebook. It took me a while to wrap my head around this enormous gift Brandon had given me, and I think I am only coming to grips with it now.
Today I make documentaries and documentary-style branded content for a living, and make the documentaries I want on the side (one day Documinute will be sponsored and then I can do that full time). 'Charmaine & Her Best Good Friend' was my longest documentary to date, and I was only able to make it because of the weight of Documinute to convince people to take a chance on me, which is a result of Humans of New York and my deep desire to attend NYFA all those years ago. Last year, on a whim I decided to enter this documentary into the Shortie Film Festival in New York, because if I wasn’t going to go study there, at least, maybe, hopefully, one of my documentaries would be seen there. To my incredible surprise and joy, Documinute made Official Selection and was then a Semi-Finalist at the Shortie Film Festival in 2019! I didn’t win, but that wasn’t important. I reached my goal and then some, my heart was fit to burst.
A few months after the Festival, the organisers sent me an email with feedback from one of the judges. After reading the feedback, still dazed by it, I googled the judge at the Shortie Film Festival. Small, small world. Had I gone to NYFA, he probably would have been my teacher in the documentary department, and he just gave me my first and most important review:
We hope that you are well! Thank you for being part of Shortie 2019! Everyone loved your film!
We would like to share a note for your film from one of the judges, *** ****, movie expert and professor of film studies.
CHARMAINE & HER BEST GOOD FRIEND
This is the absolutely perfect title for this inspirational little movie, worthy of an award for that alone. This is not “just” a mother/daughter relationship. It’s a friendship of the deepest, most awesome and wonderful kind. It’s a gift to all of us, even to behold from afar. It’s about the lessons life in its stinginess barely gives us the time to learn and our determination to try to pass them on to the one or two people we love the most. It’s the story of a profound partnership. It’s about a young girl growing up faster than we could ever imagine meeting the overwhelming challenges of the toughest situation any of us could ever face – and still holding onto what’s most precious about her childhood. It’s a story about strangers going far out of their way to make someone’s impossible wish come true. It gives us some of the hope we are all in so much need of today."
I cried when I read this email, and I am planning to have it framed. In 2018 I took a chance, in 2019 I turned myself into a believer of dreams, and in 2020 we are going to the moon together. Thank you for being here, thank you for your support and thank you for putting up with all my Instagram Stories about Barnaby (I just love that dog so freaking much).
Have the best day,
PS: I have decided to keep the judge anonymous. I know if you look all this up online you will figure it out, but for my own peace of mind I’ll let him have his bit of quiet.