Interview with Filmmaker Tiona McClodden
PQ: So did you wind up using any of the Craig’s List people?
TM: No, no, no, no. The people I met were – it was just kind of seedy and weird. I think they would have been good people but they were trying to present an image that wasn’t themselves and when you get people on camera you can see through that if you’re really lookin for it. And then after that I really had to put myself back in the community in a way that I really wasn’t interested in. I had to put myself in clubs and stuff and I’m not a big clubber. I was all in all kinds of clubs, house parties, all kinds of stuff. Just trying to look for people, talk to people, engage folks, engage women and then reach out to them to do an interview and that’s how I ended up finishing.
PQ: I remember one time I heard you speak and you said that you destroyed the footage of people that didn’t want to be included. As a photographer I can’t imagine – I have pictures of people that I know no one would want published but I still have them on a hard drive.
TM: Oh, no. Me – I didn’t even wanna run the risk of being torn because some of those interviews were very good. I mean really good. And I had release forms for everybody mind you, right, so it wasn’t a situation where I had to. It was more of a moral thing for myself. You know, I would call people over the years to update them and they would fall off and some of them were like I don’t think I wanna do it because I’m in this place now. I had one woman who got married to a man. Another woman who had ended up having a child and that changed her view. And they are beautiful, beautiful images and they were good interviews so I didn’t even wanna be put in a position where I thought I would want try to put that in there just because it was good. I wanted to respect people so I would like, fuckin, take the tapes. It became a thing, burn them, stomp on them, like take them out.
PQ: That’s impressive!
TM: They’re on tape. When I was shooting, it was in the middle of the whole HD digital thing that is the standard now. So I had the tapes, so it was like before I even digitized I’m not even gonna go there. So that’s the reason I did that.
PQ: What are some of the things you learned shooting that movie that have informed your process this time around?
TM: One of the main things is more organization. And I’m a little bit tougher about my choices of who I’m shooting and what the the criteria is for that so I won’t have to go through a lot of that. It’s kinda heart breaking when somebody says they don’t wanna be in your project anymore if you got something really good from them. This process around all of my stuff I’ve done since then and what I’m working on now – there is a lot of pre-production stuff goin on with questionnaires that are so detailed to the point where it’s purposely that way because I feel if you can’t do that, you’re not gonna be able to do what the real work is. Especially with the Black Lesbian Elder Project. We’re going into these women’s lives in a way that is very intimate as opposed to just a sit down conversation. I’m spending days with women at a time and I want that to work. I want to be able to keep that footage and I want to have a certain kind of rapport. On another technical end, I’m shooting in HD. I have a very high end HD camera. So there is a whole different approach to that because it shows more than what DV was giving at that time. So there is a lot that goes into that in terms of production quality. I’m raising that and still trying to work within my own aesthetic of natural lighting but there’s still things that have to occur to make it look a lot better.
There’s also social media that’s a whole other…Black Womyn worked because I think 2008 was at the beginning of the big burst of social media. It’s chaos now. [Laughs] I mean I was working MySpace for Black Womyn back in 2008. Now everything is in place. We have a blog. We have a twitter. We have a Facebook page and all that stuff is in place before the film is finished. Which I think is gonna help on the back end of what I had with Black Womyn.