The Filmmaker Process

Ever considered the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? Here's one way to see it:

"How many Physicists does it take to change a light bulb?" "Only one, and all the Physicist has to do is observe the light bulb and he changes it."

Replace "physicist" with "non-fiction filmmaker", and the dilemma begins to emerge: our cameras alter the situation even as we film. And while these considerations might inform our every decision, how many of us have really thought about the impact that filmmaking can have on a crime victim or their family and the impact that that impact will have on filmmaking.

Crime victims and their families often complain that the media doesn't get it. And the truth is, most of us don't get it. We are mostly clueless about victimization, about the authentic impact of violence. We're not comfortable around victims, we don't know the right questions to ask, the right tone to strike. We are much more fascinated by the tales of the offenders, the bad guys. We like body counts, not lists of wounded. We are uncomfortable dwelling on the pain of others. And having been victimized doesn't necessarily make it easier to relate to other victims.

Those who helped build this site have been thinking really hard about all this.

This site offers information that will help us be better documentary makers. We don't have all the answers. We haven't even considered all the questions. But this feels like an important beginning.

Lisa Jackson, Jackson Films, New York, NY


Tips on Interviewing Victims: The Anniversary Story

Interviewing Victims - a better way

"Do's" and "Don'ts" of Communicating with Victims

Talking Points for First Telephone Contact and Follow Up

Working with Survivors of Homicide Victims


Covering crime without re-victimizing the victims


Problems of Survivors

Homicide Survivors - Dealing with Grief  [PDF Format]

Myths and Facts about Sexual Violence  [PDF Format]




Other Resources
  Online Resources with Useful Information about Victimization and Trauma
  Additional resources at the Office for Victims of Crime Website
Excerpts from 2002 National Victim Assistance Academy Textbook
  Chapter 9: Domestic Violence
  Chapter 10: Sexual Assault
  Chapter 11: Child Victimization
  Chapter 12: Homicide