You may remember the Academy-Award winning filmmaker Laura Poitras from CitizenFour, her recent documentary chronicling Edward Snowden in the aftermath of the NSA leaks. In a new project focused on journalistic nonfiction filmmaking called Field of Vision, Poitras, along with co-founding filmmakers AJ Shnack and Charlotte Cook, is creating an episodic series with a thematic approach to a single topic by multiple filmmakers, diving deep into investigations with writers and collaborating with artists across mediums.
In conjunction with the visual journalism wing of The Intercept, the series will produce 40 to 50 short nonfiction films across three seasons every year. 2015's inaugural season is set to begin on Sept. 29, where Poitras will look at the man behind Wikileaks, Julian Assange, documenting his progress and his time spent in political asylum in London's Ecuadorian embassy.
The Field of Vision project wants to create a bridge between fast-paced journalism and visual art — getting a variety of different perspectives on a single, relevant issue. "We're trying to be creatively exploratory," Poitras tells The Intercept. "We are interested in intersections between visual storytelling and newsgathering, and how writing and video journalism can work together."
All three founders here are focused on not only the subject matter, but also the form and shape of these stories.
"As filmmakers we have ideas all the time, but a lot of our challenge is determining, 'Is it an hour? Is it 90 minutes? And what's the commitment that's going to be made to figure out what that is?'" Shnack says.
The group understands that, in order for these questions to be answered, filmmakers need time. They don't expect artists to donate their time freely to make these films, especially if it takes months away from their lives.
"[A]s filmmakers, a lot of time people think they're doing you a favor by providing you a platform," Shnack continues. "It's important to us that we don't have that perspective. People need to pay the bills."
Through this process, Field of Vision is working to have films published by The Intercept and distributed through various partners, including film festivals, streaming and cable.