Sydney filmmakers Epiphany Morgan and Carl Mason are about five months into a project in which they produce one mini-documentary every single day for an entire year. Adding to the challenge, they’re doing it on the road.
The couple wrote to Broadsheet from Ljubljana in Slovenia, where they’re currently meeting and filming strangers for their “docobites”. Each film is only a few minutes long; they’re short but vivid accounts of the lives of strangers who for one reason or another have piqued Morgan and Mason’s curiosity.
The pair describes their venture as a, “Snapshot of life in different countries.” After Europe, Morgan and Mason will travel to Africa, South America and Asia.
In a stationary shop more than a year ago, Morgan saw a book that had the number 365 emblazoned on its front. She had recently quit her job as a commercial producer to pursue a career in documentary film, and the book got her thinking.
“Each page had one number in the top right corner from one to 365,” she says. “I thought, what about a documentary that follows a story over 365 days? Then I thought, why not 365 documentaries?”
It took Mason and Morgan seven months to prepare for their trip. They secured funding, mapped out their tour and practiced filming, editing and publishing on the go.
The pair spends anywhere from a few days to two weeks in one location, filming a different person every day and then editing the footage into bite-sized video portraits. Their deadline to publish each day is 8.40am, Sydney time.
Editing on the road is no easy task. Mason recalls running through the streets of New Orleans in the pouring rain with no umbrella after they were kicked out of a cafe just as they had begun to export that day’s film. With the computer wide open to prevent the file export from stopping, and the laptop connected to a hard drive, they raced to find a cafe with internet connection so they could upload and publish the film in time. They made their deadline, just.
One of the pair’s favourite films is No. 1 – their debut docobite shot in New York about a man who grew up in a mental institute because his parents worked there.
I was mesmerised by another American-based vignette – film No. 35 – about a man called Barry; a soft-spoken wanderer living in Venice Beach in Los Angeles. His home is a small, self-built caravan attached to his bike. “I thought I’d get claustrophobic,” he told Morgan and Mason. “But I haven’t.”
It’s a poignant vignette of a solitary man who in his words has “never gotten rich,” has “no security at all,” who lives “painting to painting,” but has “lived a full life.”
“There’s been times it’s been lonely because I don’t have long-term friendships in my life,” he says to the camera. “That’s okay with me. I’m kind of a loner anyway I think. I can do with a lot of solitude.”
Follow the journey at 365docobites.com