Anush Titanyan

During the “ARTահերթ արվեստ” series of lectures a documentarist, winner of various local and international film festivals Arman Yeritsyan has talked about the identification of the intimate zone in life, and specifically at work, as well as the importance of keeping social distancing.

This phenomenon is vividly reflected in the documentary filmmaking processes. Among the film producer and the hero, usually a friendly atmosphere is created. Therefore, the hero ceases being merely the subject of a project. Here a complicated question arises: realize and respect the hero’s personal bubble, have the ability to synthesize and present their “secrets” correctly. 

On the other hand, the fear of losing the sparkle of reality sometimes requires directorial cunning. In some cases, if you do not violate the hero’s personal space, you will not see the deep inner feelings of an individual, that is, fail to create a valuable film.

Yeritsyan also refers to the butterfly’s rule: not to distract the reality by inserting or removing any items or phenomena that do not belong to the initial environment. This is one of the most basic documentary filmmaking rules, which the filmmaker has no right to break. However, each definition is followed by an exception that does not correspond to the description. In this case, it is the human factor.

In this article, we will talk about several backstage stories of Yeritsyan’s “One, Two, Three,” “Under the Open Sky,” and “Hello Fellini” documentaries, which have remained off-screen. 

The film “One, Two, Three” is about a dance/song group, one of the heroes of which, Michael, collects garbage at home after the collapse of USSR. During the first five months of shooting, the hero did not allow the cameraman to film the house. However, at the end of the film, the hero transforms into a friend. According to Yeritsyan’s advice, he even agrees to clean the house from garbage after collecting it for decades. 

“Under the Open Sky” tells the story of two homeless people, with whom the component of human relations is also one of the key factors in the film’s success. Living in an extremely severe condition, they did not want to accept the film crew’s help. Yeritsyan mentioned that they agreed to go to the public bathroom on the eve of the New Year, and that is where the shooting of the film started. On New Year’s Eve, Yeritsyan, the film crew, and the film heroes spent together drinking the vodka and the food that the homeless people usually had.

What about the film “Hello, Fellini”, the heroine is a charismatic, lonely Anna, who according to Yeritsyan was utterly open to the cameras, but the whole film resembled a masquerade, and there was no drama. The documentarist says that on the last day of filming, he decided to tell the heroine that they would not meet again as the shootings were going to end soon. Anna was moved, as expected by the film crew. By entering the intimate zone, slightly violating morality norms, the camera caught footage that clearly showed the friendly relationship between the hero and the filmmaker.

Therefore, in documentary filmmaking, the border of maintaining social distance and getting closer to the hero is very subtle, yet significant.