Occupy Wall Street
was as much a media revolution as it was a social movement. Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Kevin Breslin (Living for 32) participates in and contributes to that revolution tonight, with the live-streaming of his film. #whilewewatch documents the independent media phenomenon born in Zucotti Park, otherwise known as Occupy Wall Street. You can experience #whilewewatch on SnagFilms tonight at 8PM EST, with a Q&A immediately afterwards. Both will air again at 8PM PST (11PM EST). Breslin was good enough to talk with Paste about the movement, the media, and the birth of citizen journalism.
Paste: Kevin, this is an exciting day. Will you be spending most of it preparing for the live-streaming tonight?
Breslin: Yes, I will. And this especially important because with this film there are writers, editors, artists, researchers and live-streamers, texters, and tweeters— everyone saying, “We believe in something and we’re gonna open our mouths.” That’s exciting for me.
Paste: What inspired you to make #whilewewatch?
Breslin: I hadn’t seen anything like it! The people in involved in #OWS said, “To hell with mainstream media.” So they started live-streaming, tweeting, texting, they started facebook pages and media shows. They chose to cover their own content. I thought that these were the smartest people I’d seen in the media racket in a long time. And they were concerned with telling the truth, regardless of whether or not people think it’s a convenient one.
Paste: You’ve said that this is not a political movie, but people will surely see it as political. How will the movie convince them otherwise?
Breslin: I don’t know if I want to convince anyone that it’s a political movie or not. It’s a story about people in media, and it’s a story that happened to be political, as well as social, and economical, and maybe moral. When I decided I wanted to make a film I was looking for the energy, the originality, not the political story. What I saw consistently were men and women in media working with passion and commitment. Nobody did it for money. But they said, “I’m a journalist. I’m a citizen journalist.” And that’s what I filmed, people fighting to tell a story, and telling it objectively.
Paste: Are there any individuals in particular who stood out to you?
Breslin: A guy named Bill Dobbs ran the public relations magnificently. You would have thought he was at a major league PR firm. And all of them, you know, they were not manipulative people. Were they smart politically? Yes. They’re not the nicest lot. They’re tough, young, smart people, as they should be. And they’d been screwed over, to a degree.
Paste: Were there any scenes that were especially difficult to film or watch?
Breslin: Yes, two in particular. Peter Dutro was in finance at Occupy Wall Street. He was like the producer of the event. I started talking to him because he gave $25,000 for the cameras; he knew documenting this was essential. When he told me he struggled through cancer and had no insurance, I thought to myself, he is clearly not here playing a game. This is not a game.
Another time it was three in the morning and the police came into Zucotti Park. They were throwing everyone’s things in the garbage—although they did tell people they could pick things up at the dump on 57th street—some of the officers, SOME, seemed unhinged. Personally, they seemed too aggressive. To take people in the middle of the night and throw them out of the park, I saw no reason for that.
Paste: Social media is still looked at with skepticism. Even with everything going on, there’s still a hierarchy. Is this something you hope to change with the release of #whilewewatch?
Breslin: Sure, because I’m a journalist. And if you have some talent, and you have a story, this is another opportunity, another chance for distribution. It seems to be the key component in how everyone’s communicating. If all these media outlets can embrace filmmakers—and storytellers, because we’re all storytellers— then we can create more space for creative people.
Paste: And it’s streaming tonight on SnagFilms, right?
Breslin: Yes, and on UStream.
Paste: Well, we’re excited.
Breslin: Me too. It’s a New York story and New York is media, so I think it’s good.
Paste: So do we!
Breslin: I thank you so much!
To attend the live-streaming of Kevin Breslin’s #whilewewatch, visit:
Follow the movement here:
Shannon Mariama Houston (Twitter: @shannonmhouston) is patiently awaiting the debut of a Scorsese-directed film, written by Charlie Kaufman, and starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio… with a brief cameo by Lil’ Wayne. She looks forward to writing the review of said film (“Gangs of Synechdoche, New York”) from her home in Nyack, in between an obscene amount of diaper changing and brownie baking. (She will be sure to wash her hands before returning to her work as a freelance writer).