Just Peace

A documentary to end War

I’m going to take this blog in a slightly different direction today, and talk a bit about the filmmaking process.  In particular I’m going to talk about my philosophy on interviews, and how difficult my philosophy is for cameramen.  It will also make apparent how fortunate I am to have such a talented cinematographer as Zack Ecuyer working with me.  Our interviews last week with Glen Stassen were wonderful and beautiful productions, made successful by following rules of good communication, and by having Zack there able to handle the challenges of filming honest communication.

When I was in the early stages of my career, I had the good fortune to work with some great directors and cameramen.  We shot a lot of interviews, and I always felt something was lacking.  I came to realize that our focus on our craft of filmmaking was interfering with the art of communication.

Subjects of interviews were told: “Keep your head turned in this direction for lighting.” “Don’t rock in your chair.” “Tilt your head down so your glasses won’t reflect the lights.” “Keep your hands away from your face,” etc., etc.  It was amazing they spoke at all.

I was so lucky to have a mentor, Enid Vien, who was a master of communication and developed it into a science.  In weeks of study with her, I understood that communication is perhaps the most important function a spiritual being participates in, and it deserves to have great importance placed on doing it correctly.

A successful communication occurs when one being’s thoughts and feelings are transmitted and duplicated by another.  That is the communicator’s intention: That the listener has a duplicate experience of the one being communicated.  The communicator knows when it’s not happening, and will either begin to communicate with force, or withdraw and internalize.  Under these criteria, very little true communication takes place in today’s world.  I have to be different.  I have to communicate.

A good interviewer must have the intention to receive and duplicate the communication, acknowledging to the communicator that he has duplicated it.  You have to have interest, even passion, about the topic of the interview.  You don’t interrupt.  You maintain eye contact.  If the interviewee struggles for words, you don’t finish his sentence.  You send a gentle intention through your eyes and body language that says, “I can wait for you to find the perfect word.”  You cue with your body language what you would like the subject to do with his.

The greatest sin is to cause the interviewee to introvert.  You want his communication flowing outward, not inward.  Giving directions on how to sit, where to look, moving around less, etc., all put the speaker’s attention on himself rather that his communication.  The flow reduces to a trickle; and as easily as you can introvert someone, it’s virtually impossible to re-extrovert someone.

This minimizing of direction gives the speaker more space and more freedom – and makes things very difficult for a cameraman.  Especially with my preference for close-ups.  The video clip in the link below will demonstrate what I mean.

When the interview is simply imparting information, I generally like a bust shot of the subject.  I want to get a feel for his body language, the methods he uses for communicating.  But when things get personal or passionate, I want a tight close-up.  I want to see the moisture in their eyes, the upturn of a brow, the twitch of a lip that shows suppressed emotion.  I want the viewer to completely duplicate their experience, just as I did during the interview.

I now have to get into a bit of camera lingo, which I hope most will understand.  I shoot with the minimum lighting needed to get a good exposure, because that is easier on the subject.  In the clip below, we’re shooting ISO 320 with a 135mm prime lens at f/2.  Our depth-of-field is virtually non-existent.  That means that there is less than 2 inches in space where the camera will be in focus.  And the lens is so tight that there is only three inches of air on each side of Glen’s head.

In this Clip, Glen is telling the story of the downfall of Communist East Germany, of which he played a large part.  Glen’s natural communication style is to move with the story; the energy of the tale engages his body.  I don’t want to lose that.

Zack does an incredible job of following Glen through his story – reframing and focusing simultaneously.  (And for any of you film buffs, there was no focus puller.  Just Zack. This is HARD.) The movement of the camera and the focal shifts give incredible energy to the tale – something we would have lost if I had focused Glen’s attention on lighting, framing, etc. – the typical craft.  It’s a dynamic clip because of good communicators in both chairs, and a talented eye on the camera.

I’ve told Zack in the past: If they fall out of the chair, I’ll make sure they’re OK. Your job is to refocus, reframe and keep shooting.  I can count on him to do just that.

The clip:

September 5, 2013
by justpeace
1 Comment

Just Peacemaking is a new philosophical paradigm, and as with anything new, the greatest understanding comes from comparison to what is currently known and accepted.  We need to spend a bit of time examining current philosophies of dealing with war – in particular those of Just War, Pacifism, and Crusade.

The following post is from a thesis, “Search For a New Model,” written by Rev. Paul “Chip” Jahn in the late 1990′s.  Over the next few days, we’ll be excerpting parts of his thesis as we look at the past theories of war in comparison to the new paradigm of Just Peace.

The theory of Just War

Christian just war theory is built on three convictions.  The first is that God is the author, creator and parent of all humanity.   Second, conflict between people and communities is inevitable.  It is the way sin, either individual or corporate, often manifests itself.  The third conviction is there are times when our respect for all God’s children will demand that we protect victims of unjust attacks.

There are two sets of criteria by which they judge a situation.  The first set is to judge whether going to war is justifiable.  The second set of criteria is used to judge whether the means of war are justifiable.


Just Criteria for Entering Into War

The number of criteria vary depending on the author.  Joseph Allen lists seven standards to deduce whether war is justifiable.

1.  Justifiable cause:  A justifiable cause might include such things as to protect people from an unjust attack,  to restore rights that have been unjustly taken away,  to defend or restore a just political order.

2.  Legitimate authority:  The prerogative to make the decision to go to war needs to lie within the hands of an authority that honestly represents the just interests of the people.

3.  Last resort:  All peaceful alternatives should be exhausted before people resort to war.

4.  Declaration of war aims:  The authority with the power to go to war explains and justifies its war aims.  This states clearly to its advisory the reasons for the impending conflict.  It also allows the citizens of the country an opportunity to deliberate the justness of the action.  Some just war proponents claim a declaration of war before hostilities begin can give an opponent an unfair advantage, taking away the element of surprise.

5.  Proportionality:  One should not resort to war if the evil created by armed conflict would be greater than the evil that would exist if there was no war.  The war should have the possibility of making the situation better.

6.  Reasonable chance at success:  War should only be considered if their is a reasonable chance at success.  This doesn’t mean just vanquishing ones enemies, it means achieving the war’s just objectives.

7.  Right intention:  The motivations of those entering into armed conflict need to be as just as the cause they fight for.  The intention of the just warrior ought to always be a more just peace.

Just Criteria in Conducting War

Using just war logic, the conduct of war should be shaped and limited by Christian love.  Discrimination and proportionality are the two criteria used to measure the just conduct of war.

1.  Discrimination:  Just war theory calls for a process of discrimination of what is a legitimate target of war.  Legitimate targets are military personnel or political leaders in the chain of command that have a active or cooperating role in the hostilities.  The criteria forbids direct and intentional attack on noncombatants.  These are civilians but also can include military personnel that do not pose a direct or potential threat, such as medical personnel.

The just war theorist recognizes that war is not an exact art and there are times when noncombatants become unintentional targets of a military action.  Joseph Allen places some responsibility on the noncombatant to keep themselves out of harms way.  Efforts should be made to avoid the intentional destruction of civilian targets.  Allen contends that the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki violated the principal of discrimination by intentionally choosing targets that would inevitably involve high proportion of civilian casualties.  It is not enough that noncombatants are not directly attacked.  The principle is violated if an attack on a military target leads to a disproportionately high number of noncombatant casualties.  On the other hand, he claimed the United States was not in violation of the just war principle when civilians were killed during the bombing of a military communication bunker during the Persian Gulf War if they were unaware it was also used as a civilian air raid shelter.

2.  Proportionality:  This is the just war principle of matching the amount of force to a justifiable objective.  As a strategic principle it is a matter of economy; you use enough force to accomplish the task.  But to meet the just war criteria of proportionality you do not use any more force than is needed.  Though just war theory recognizes killing enemy military as a legitimate war objective, the criteria of proportionality states that no more should be killed than absolutely necessary.

Christian just war thinking acknowledges the complexities of international conflict, and provides a philosophical model for measuring the cost of entering into and engaging in war.  It calls a wide range of community voices into the the discernment  processes, and gives them established, if not universally accepted, criteria to use in their judgments.  Just war theory recognizes that the mere absence of violence is not all that God wants for us.  Injustice is as much a state of human sin and brokeness as war is.  Oppression is just another form of violence.

- Rev. Paul “Chip” Jahn