"To have social change, we need to be able to use examples from what we want to change": Play Again & Fair Use
The documentary Play Again is an important new award-winning documentary about the consequences of a childhood removed from nature. I spoke with filmmaker and co-founder of Ground Productions Tonje Schei about the film and about how the Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use has been helpful to her in her work.
Schei first used the Documentary Filmmakers' Statement when she was working on Independent Intervention, a film about the US media's coverage of the war in Iraq. The filmmakers needed to use examples from corporate media and relied heavily on the Statement in order to claim fair use for these examples as well as in explaining fair use when approaching distributors.
Her newest film, Play Again, follows six teenagers who, like the "average American child", spend five to fifteen hours a day behind screens. Play Again unplugs these teens and takes them on their first wilderness adventure - no electricity, no cell phone coverage, no virtual reality.
For this film, which criticizes how the media is targeting children with advertising, Schei talked to me about how crucial examples of the virtual world are in order to show the power of that world, and how much the Documentary Filmmakers' Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use has helped her in her fair use decisions. As Schei put it, "The Center for Social Media and the Statement for Fair Use has meant so much to me as an independent documentary filmmaker! It's often a lonely road to work for social change and it has been so important to have support from the center in this process."
Schei believes that fair use has a very important role in documentary film's ability to enforce and encourage social change. Independent documentary especially provides a platform "where we can have this important critical thinking and information about the society that we're trying to change. In order to have social change, though, we need to be able to use examples from what we want to change."
Play Again premieres in DC at the DC Environmental Film Festival at St. Columbia's Episcopal Church (4201 Albernarle St. NW) on Tuesday, March 22nd at 7:30 pm with a screening and a Q&A with both the director and producer. To learn more, check out the film's Facebook page.
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