Posted by Hal
Friday’s shoot started at around 10 am. We were utilizing the new space age basement office for the first time. It’s dark and gloomy, with strings of lights behind the book shelves offering what I think is supposed to be a kind of futuristic glow. I haven’t seen it on camera, so I don’t really have a sense of how it turned out, but the crew seems happy with the vibe.
So first off, Sally (director) and Jeanette (producer), sat me down at my desk and produced a 15 page contract. With the cameras rolling, they took me rapidly through all kinds of legal language which basically amounted to the following: You agree to reveal yourself, to subject yourself to whatever we come up with, and you further agree that you are doing this willingly and that you will probably cause yourself embarrassment and this embarrassment will probably have a negative effect on your career and personal life and when that happens you can’t sue us, because you have only yourself to blame.
Hey, wait a minute, I protested feebly. Just sign it, snapped Jeanette. I signed it.
The whole scene — which was more about dramatics for the documentary then about any actual legal proceeding — made me oddly, suddenly anxious. I mean, really, it wasn’t anything I didn’t already know, but it put it very starkly. What the hell was I doing? Was I pretty much just signing up to make myself look ridiculous? When I pitched this project, it was all about extending our collective understanding of the shift from pop to peep. I wasn’t planning on embarrassing myself by and ruining my life. As the reading of the surprise legal document progressed, I actually broke into a sweat. No doubt you will see me on the small screen anxiously wiping my upper lip.
I’ve been working with these filmmakers for more than a year. I trust them, and I know they have the same intention I do – to make a substantive, important contribution to understanding the dramatic social shift we’re in. At the same time, as the documentary shifts into high gear it’s become apparent to me that we are entering a new more adversarial relationship. They believe that to make the doc succeed, I must expose and ideally embarrass myself. How else could I possibly truly participate in peep? I’m willing to expose and even embarrass myself — I’ve been doing it all my life, why stop now? — but I don’t think that’s what the doc should hinge on. Then again, there is an aspect of peep which has to do with being pushed by someone else to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do. Peep is all about WILLINGLY revealing yourself for perceived gains — attention, community, rewards. But what often ends up happening is that your willingness to share is coopted by other people who use your desires to share for their own agendas.
After I signed the document, they pretended to introduce me to thepeepdiaries.com for the first time. They then asked to see my Facebook page and proceeded to berate me for never commenting on anyone else’s posts or answering any of my facebook messages. That bit of theater was actually pretty funny. And probably true. You’ll notice, by the way, that I’m going to be doing a lot more responding to comments on this blog. I’ll be starting with the comments responding to my post about how my blogging is going…
So we’ll see how things play out. I’m writing this at the airport. The whole crew is off to San Francisco and Vancouver to shoot scenes with a lifecaster, a group of suicide girl twitter partiers, plus google and more. I’ll keep you posted, of course. I’m feeling far more anxious about this whole project now than I’d ever imagined I would. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Hey, I’m Hal Niedzviecki. I’m a writer/thinker who lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with my wife and daughter. Up till now I’ve always considered myself a private person. But at the same time I’m fascinated by people who effortlessly open themselves up to the whole world. So I’ve… more...
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