One of the things I’m fast discovering here in Copenhagen is that lunch is not just for whimps! – thanks mainly to Documentary Guru/Consultant and good friend Tue Steen Müller who took me to Husmann´s Vinstue for an old school Danish Documentary-style lunch. For the Record: Tue paid and wrote this appreciation of what I do entirely of his own free will!
“I got to know Doug through several sessions of EDN (European Documentary Network). We invited him along because of his enormous energy and always positive attitude to his colleagues.
Also he was – and is – a living witness of the fact that the French auteur theory ”camera comme stylo” is very much alive and practised.In these ‘pitching times’ where the amount of paperwork is growing, I know few people who like Doug ”writes” with the camera. He is present, he is observing, he is asking questions and the characters talk to him, the man behind the camera. A modern version of the Direct Cinema philosophy! It sounds so banal, but still the biggest complimet you can be given as a documentary film-maker is that the characters feel confident in your company: They are not afraid to express themselves on camera because they know that the person behind the camera will never let you down.
In a tabloid media world, there is not a lot of respect demonstrated liken the one Doug gives to the young couple in Bedroom Radio. This very beautiful film about Yvonne and Gary, who try to make a living in a hard social environment in Glasgow is a small masterpiece. She is around 20 but has already three children and he has one big passion: To make radio. That is the story that is followed over a long period where he fights with the authorities as the radio transmit is illegal – right to the point where Gary dies in an accident that has nothing to do with his radio activity.
I have been travelling a lot to ex-Yugoslavia due to my work and I have found great pleasure in watching the four films that Doug has made from this region during and after the wars: Louder than Bombs and A Different Pitch with football trainer Scotty Lee as the main character who trains kids in football and in how to avoid the minefields. And Victims of Geography and See you in the Next War.
I just saw the latter again and recognised that Doug’s skills not only include that it is easy for him to win the confidence of the characters – he also conveys to us the development that happens to them as the one with Gordan, the B92 dj who grows in importance in the film. From being a person who comments on the state of Serbia and freedom, but also doubts the future in the personal black humourous way that is very characteristic for the Serbs.
Time is of course a key element for a documentary maker as Doug. He knows that you need to stay long with the characters and in the situations that unfold in a reality that is uncontrollable. You just have to be there with yourself, your camera and your personal integrity. You have to be able to catch what goes on and to listen and observe. But you also have to have a heart for people in need or for people committed to a cause like the sympathetic policeman in Harrigan´s Beat or for Peri in Kurdi, another strong, actual and relevant humanistic documentary from Doug Aubrey.
Tue Steen Müller founder of EDN: http://www.filmkommentaren.dk/