Seven years ago, documentary filmmaker Jason DaSilva decided to turn the camera on himself. He has just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and wanted to document his life as his condition worsened. The resulting film, When I Walk, premiered on PBS’ POV this week.
“The one thing that I had to get used to was all of a sudden I was in this mode of, it’s called participatory documentary — so being in front of the camera and kind of being the guiding subject and the interviewee and the interviewer at the same time so it changed me that way in the way that all of a sudden behind the camera wasn’t the same anymore,” he tells PBS’ POV. “It changed me in the way that I think I was more restricted in my last films where I was trying to be very controlling in how I did things. But for this film and it’s, yeah, it’s tough to say this but I kind of had to let go a little bit and see what I got and see what other people give for me. And that’s what I did. So now as a filmmaker and as a creative person, I just kind of see what I can get through collaboration with other people.”
That collaboration meant that DaSilva had to allow the people in his life, from his mother to his girlfriend, to shoot. “The first thing I did is get a camera that everybody can use,” he says. “It’s a really easy to use Sony HD camera and then I would just literally just give it to everybody.”
He says of the film’s message, “I think it’s important to say that one of the major themes is the idea of triumph over tragedy. So regardless, if you have MS, or whatever your challenge is, that there’s some universal thing that the film presents and everybody can relate to it, it’s getting over that hump and getting on with your life or continuing on past that difficult moment.”
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