Friday morning a film crew turned up at my offices. No, they did not turn up unannounced, and as far as I know none of the footage is going to show on a local news channel, but it is still somewhat daunting. As the lighting was set up in our conference room, I reflected on some other appearances that I have done on the “silver screen” or at least the 27” TV in your home.
My first experience was a BBC documentary on AIDS back in the mid ‘80’s. I was working as a family doctor within Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), and was fairly well-known as an outspoken Christian physician and leader of a Christian Medical Organization known as Christians in the Caring Professions. The BBC asked me to be part of a two hour “reality show” where a small group of people would live together in a house for a few days, sharing the experience of some of the participants who were living with a positive diagnosis of AIDS. This was in the day of mild press hysteria about AIDS and general uncertainty over exactly how “contagious” the disease was and whether or not there was any need for quarantine of people with AIDS from the general population. During our two days of living together, we would all be filmed in living situations and in planned discussions about AIDS.
This was a great experience. Everyone living together was very friendly, and if the discussion through those two days had framed the subsequent public debate about how to care for those sick with AIDS, that probably would have been a good thing. But I doubt it was very exciting TV viewing. No wonder “reality shows” went on to watch the antics of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” or of the “Kardashians”.
My next experience happened when a very large church in Orlando offered to help a church planting organization that I was involved in to film a training program about the impact and methodology of simple house church movements. When we arrived at the house where this was to be filmed, I was somewhat surprised to find an 18 Wheeler in the front drive, and to discover that this was the nerve center of the 5 person film crew. As they tidied up my lack of sartorial elegance, and applied make-up, I was like a deer caught in the headlights trying to think how we modeled “simple” church life in such a complex and high-tech setting. But thanks to the crew’s professionalism all went well!
So, back to Friday: The four person crew are making a documentary about the direction of American health care. They wanted input from a British physician with experience of the National Healthcare System (NHS). They also wanted to hear from someone trying to make sense of the rapid changes currently happening here in the States because of The Affordable Care Act. I guess they thought that maybe I fit in both categories.
Ninety minutes later, having answered about 30 questions, knowing that for each minute I spoke, only a few seconds would actually end up in the documentary, I settled back to the rest of my day and to reflect.
Life is lived in sound-bites in the modern world. But life is much more complex than sound bites. I hope I was able to accurately convey my thoughts. I also have to trust that the documentary is equally honest in editing those thoughts down into a coherent message that fits with their story.
Have you ever been in a similar position? What is your experience of the world of film media?
Want to learn more about my adventures? Follow me on Twitter @tonydale.flywheelsitesaustin