I started making documentaries in college. I don't really think I knew then that I wanted to be a documentary filmmaker, but I knew it was something I really enjoyed. Actually, that's not true. I made my first documentary when I was a senior in high school. I made a documentary of my last week as a senior. I took around a video camera, and I interviewed everybody. It was actually very funny because David Grubin, a well-respected PBS-type filmmaker—his daughter was a very good friend of mine, and she was in my documentary. So we had a little screening of it. I did a little incamera edit, the most basic thing. And he lauded me with praise and said, "This is a great documentary. You have a future here." Which was very funny. Which I didn't remember until much later when I met David in a more professional context. And then he said, "I told you you were going to be a documentary filmmaker." That was my first verite documentary.
And then I made a documentary when I was in college, or I made a few. And then I started working with another documentary filmmaker here in New York, Jonathan Stack, who I ended up making three films with, including The Farm. He was very open to different ideas. I started working there as an assistant but ultimately ended up developing this professional relationship with Wilbert Rideau, an inmate in Louisiana, a relationship which ultimately led to the film The Farm. And so I was his underling, but I brought that into our relationship, and that's how I ended up codirecting that film.
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