We are all in the same shot.
The FullShot Documentary Workshop is an action team founded in 1988, by like-minded friends dedicated to documentary filmmaking. After years of activity, its team members became increasingly aware of the importance of spreading knowledge about documentaries and fostering new talent in the field. In 1996 the film collective regrouped as a trust fund whose mission is the creation, training and promotion of documentary filmmaking.
On September 28, 1999, the seventh day after the catastrophic Chi-Chi Earthquake, all twelve members of FullShot gathered for an emergency meeting. Some had just got back from the scene of the disaster. Others had been glued to the TV, recording images and taking down information from news reports. Everyone shared a grave concern about one thing—whether FullShot should take action in the affected regions. Since this undertaking would affect the future of the film collective, it was imperative to come to a mutual consensus. As absolute chaos had descended on various regions, it was all the more important to map out what the team intended to achieve before embarking on such a journey.
“We must go there and make long term reportage of the incident,” said one member with an unswerving sense of purpose, “in a disaster of such enormous proportions, many problems are sure to arise during the whole rehabilitation process in days to come. This is an extremely significant collective experience for Taiwan. Given the current chaotic situation, the government apparently cannot deploy any more resources to make such reportage. Since we have been collaborating with each other for ten years already, perhaps we can make a difference through the power of teamwork. I have already made my own decision. Even if the rest of FullShot were to stay put here, I would still resign and go there to document everything.”
For a few seconds, there was total silence and the room was filled with a sense of expectation as all held their breath. He had put into words what every single member felt stirring in their hearts.
As a team whose members range from twenty-somethings to forty-somethings, we have joined forces for the sake of documentary filmmaking. Although we have been through many obstacles together, none of us had ever experienced a catastrophe of this scale. 84,000 homes were razed to the ground leaving hundreds of thousands homeless. Rural areas amounting to nearly a third of Taiwan had been seriously damaged. The express highway in the central region, once a symbol of Taiwan’s beauty, had sunk into the valley and had to be erased from the map.
What repercussions, what significance would this have on the population? How long and tortuous would the road to recovery be? What stories do the victims of the quake have to tell? Without knowing why, each of us sensed it was of utmost importance to document this incident, and felt that our hearts were deeply linked to Taiwan at that very moment.
No other decision was possible. That night, all our members went home to tell their families, and begin preparing the camera equipment, computers and communication tools for shooting. Three days later, we had made the necessary preparations, and contacted a few volunteers before heading south to begin fieldwork. Hand-in-hand, we embarked on a journey of life with an unknown destination.
Six years have gone by and our work is still ongoing. We are honored to be invited to the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, and especially grateful to the generous support of friends in Japan. We are pleased to share the fruits of six years of our work with all of you.
FullShot Communication Foundation