Jim’s birth mother gave him up to the foster care system when he was one. He reconnected with her a few years ago and a few phone calls and letters were exchanged. Not much more of a relationship developed. As we were in the early stages of planning the documentary Jim found out his mother’s health had taken a turn, and she was sent to hospice. Yesterday in LA, cinematographer Seth Fuller and I met Jim at my hotel to film a segment wherein Jim would discuss his feelings about the woman who gave birth to him but with whom he had no satisfying relationship. A couple hours before our cameras were set to roll, Jim got word that she had died. All of my notes, questions, prompts, were set aside and I scrambled to think of more appropriate questions. Jim sat down, the camera rolled, but ultimately I needed to ask nothing. For about an hour he spoke with candor, humor, and ultimately grief. Tears were shed, chuckles were had, and insights made. It was powerful.
We decompressed for awhile before filming a completely different segment: Jim dancing down the long hallway of the hotel. We thought we were being rogue, but as soon as the camera rolled a woman was leaving her room, and another couple came out of the elevator. Jim just kept dancing, and what could have been pesky interruptions became vital elements of the scene.