The first bilingual web documentary from Canada’s National Film Board, GDP: Measuring the Human Side of the Canadian Economic Crisis, is spanning the country to record how people on the front lines of the economic downturn are coping.
Ten directors are following 13 people, including an unemployed autoworker in Oshawa, Filipino guest-workers in Alberta, a Newfoundland couple in the midst of a midlife career shift and a controversial real-estate agent who is profiting from the recession by buying repossessed houses and reselling them.
‘The directors shoot once a month and within two weeks their footage is on the web,’ explains the director of the project, Hélène Choquette (The Refugees of the Blue Planet, Avenue Zero).
The web allows a great deal of flexibility because there are no strict delivery deadlines, but offers other challenges, particularly when it comes to dealing with subjects, says Choquette. ‘Normally in documentary we have many weeks to prepare the subject to see themselves on screen, but that isn’t the case on the web where their stories are posted almost immediately.’
Jointly produced by the NFB’s English and French Programs, the one-year pilot project was launched in September and now features over 138 short films and photo-essays. To date, there have been over 200,000 viewings of GDP – on the English and French versions of gdp.nfb.ca, at the NFB’s online screening room and via its iPhone app. The project has 4,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, and many have been contributing their own material to the site.