In the summer of 2015, I worked with director Andrew Cohn on his latest documentary film. I was interning at Wheelhouse Creative and he was looking for an assistant editor to get working as soon as possible. I ended up jumping right on board.
There was an overwhelming amount of footage, all taken from the six or so months that Andrew spent living in one of the harsher parts of Indianapolis- immersed in the culture that he was struggling to understand. At some point, he recalled that he and his director of photographer, Zach Shields, almost got robbed in their own house.
For me, it was a very meditative process of looking through hours of life, searching for those few moments and gestures that illuminate the thoughts and emotions of the people that I had grown to admire.
On a regular day, I’d be seeing something like Shynika laughing with her grandma at how much trouble she was when she was in high school, to following Melissa on her journey to pay for her own casket, to listening to Greg worry about the health of his only daughter. Casually profound moments.
There were piles of index cards and post it notes strung all around a tiny office as Andrew struggled to come up with a story structure that would fit in all these hours of life.
A story that would relate to people like me, who lived in a bubble far away from the stress of the poverty line, from the stress of not having graduating high school, from the stress of neighborhood politics that feel more like war - and even from the stress of the entire state of Indiana, whose economy is suffering from a loss of manufacturing labor.
It ended up being one of the more profound experiences of my filmmaking path. For the first time, I really felt like I was working on a film had some serious responsibility to juggle.