In the Mass Humanities Public Humanist blog, Massachusetts filmmaker Larry Hott talks about leaving the legal profession to become a filmmaker after seeing documentary films inspire meaningful change:
I returned to western Massachusetts to join Florentine Films, a documentary company that was just getting started and I plunged into my first film, “The Old Quabbin Valley,” about the battle over diverting sullied Connecticut River water into the pristine waters of the Quabbin Reservoir. It took me three years of fundraising, filming and editing to complete the production and when it was done it became an organizing tool, just as I had hoped. Eventually Massachusetts passed laws to prevent diversions of water from one region to another and I am proud to think the film had a little something to do with that. It was a while before I realized that the time necessary to produce and distribute the film was about the same, if not longer, than the length of a lawsuit. By then it was too late; I had been infected with the film disease and I’ve never been cured.
Later in the post, he does add some sobering perspective by observing that docs like “Sicko” and “An Inconvenient Truth,” while finding huge audiences, can’t yet claim to have solved the problems they address. Even so, his post is a great reminder of art’s potential to be (as he puts) “a tributary carrying water toward a river that needs an increase in flow.”
Here’s to those swelling rivers.