It's the Process, Not the Product

Spiritual Cinema Circle

Dana Nachman has been making documentaries since 2002, including five feature length documentaries and two shorts. We asked her about Washed Away, which was her first short:

How did you come across Brandon Anderton’s work?

I saw an article on Brandon when I was on Twitter one night and the image of one of his sand mandalas just immediately caught my eye. I read the article and was completely taken with his story. I found it very inspiring and visually compelling and felt like it would make a great film! I emailed him and he got back to me very quickly. We live about 10 miles from each other and met for coffee a few days later. It wasn’t hard at all to get Brandon to agree to make the film. He had watched some of my previous films, so he knew where I come from as a storyteller, which helped the conversation a lot.

Is he the subject of the film, or is the subject actually larger than him?

I think the film’s message is very universal. It’s about overcoming obstacles and about choosing a path in life that really resonates for you. I think we can all relate to that! I also think the film is about living for the process in life rather than the product. This is one of the reasons why I am so drawn to Brandon’s work. I know that the most enjoyable part of being a filmmaker is the process of making the film. All the rest of it (the screenings, the red carpets, the press, etc.) is secondary to me because the joy of the process is so profound. This is the epitome of Brandon’s work and his amazing sand mandalas that get washed away by the tides a few hours after he finishes creating them! I love these messages and I am so happy I found Brandon so that I could explore them with him in this film.

What were the challenges you faced during production and post?

My first big challenge was how to tell his story exactly. You can ask Brandon, I hemmed and hawed for a while with how to tell the story. Then finally, I settled on focusing on one piece of art. And then we were off to the races. Once we decided on this we had to get a day where Brandon felt well enough to create. He often can’t get out of bed, so planning a shoot and a crew was hard. Then we also had to consider when the tides would be right during the day. And then there was weather to consider. We knew we had to fly a drone to get the mandala when he was finished and the drone can not fly in high winds, and we were at the beach remember so we couldn’t have a kite flying day. So this is a long way to say, the starts had to really align. We needed luck on our side. So, I hired a crew that was OK with me cancelling at the last minute. Usually you have to pay your crew for the day if you commit… but my crew all understood, this was special and we had to all be flexible. Then there was one other big thing, since we didn’t know in advance when we would be shooting we couldn’t get a permit, so we had to wing it at the beach. We took a chance and went out to the beach the day after the Super Bowl, I thought all the rangers would have been tired and not on their A game (I know, I’m weird!) When we got to the beach a man told us that the ranger had just left… so we were golden!

Did you talk to people on the beach watching him? I’m wondering what their reactions were, and why you didn’t include any of that in the film.

We did talk to people on the beach and they thought the work was beautiful but none of the sound we got there was unexpected so I chose not to use it. Instead we hear from the man and his daughter who were directly talking to Brandon on the beach, which I liked better as it was a natural interaction between them.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am finishing up a film called Pick of the Litter. We followed a litter of puppies from the day they were born, for two years, through the day they make it to become Guide Dogs for the Blind or get cut from the rigorous program. It’s a real showcase of the human canine connection. Very exciting! I’m actually off to a rough cut screening of that film right now! So thank you for this opportunity! Enjoy!

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