6 Questions with Wade Sellers whose film ANATOMY OF A FLOOD Premieres at INDIE GRITS


JASPER:  The work you've done for Indie Grits this year is untitled in the program literature. Is that intentional? Is there a title or could you give it a title now, if you had to?

SELLERS:  The title of the installation is Anatomy of a Flood. I don't think I had a title for it when they asked for the proposals from the artists. I had a general idea but didn't decide on a title until I solidified the concept.
JASPER:  Tell us just a little bit about the impetus for your film.
SELLERS:  I had been asked by a friend if I would be willing to video the interior of a home for insurance purposes that had been damaged by the flooding. I agreed and realized that this was a way that I could offer what I do to those affected. I ended up capturing footage of many homes that were horribly damaged by the flood waters and during the time I spent in each one, the damage and its effect on the owners weighed on me. I though of talking to the owners then and asking about their experience but I couldn't, I didn't feel it was right to do. I wasn't gathering news, I would've asked very personal questions and it was too soon.
When I was asked to participate in the Waterlines project by Seth, I wanted to revisit those home owners and others affected by the flood and have them tell me their personal story of that night.
The narrative of the film is fairly narrow. I asked those that I interviewed to tell me only of their experience the night of October 3rd until the time they left their home the next morning.
JASPER:  Sometimes Indie Grits films are a work in progress - is yours? (If yes, how so?)
SELLERS:  The project is finished and was originally intended to be a one time screening because of the nature of how it is projected. I've changed my thinking now and think it would be appropriate to be projected as one piece on one wall.
JASPER:  What was the most challenging part in the process of making this film?
SELLERS:  It is always hard to edit out good parts of a story and Anatomy of a Flood was no different. There were some moments of each person's story of the night of the flood that were extremely engaging, but didn't really fit in the whole of the piece. Since the film is projected on three different walls the timing of each visual was a bit tricky but turned out to be very effective when played together.
The technique I use in editing the interviews is based off of what I developed for a documentary series I directed and edited, where we interview many people about one event. The interviews are then edited together to feel as if it is one continuous story but told by many people and from their personalities in telling the story you get the idea of the makeup of them as individuals and as a community.
JASPER:  How did making this film affect or change you as a filmmaker?
SELLERS:  The project itself is the first time I have created a film to be projected on multiple screens at the same time. At the heart of it it is a narrative documentary, the only difference is that it has contrasting images projected at the same time on opposite walls. I create films that tell engaging stories. I wanted this to be the same but also wanted to add the element of other possible narratives trying to fight and disorient the viewers attention.
JASPER:  What do you hope people will take away from having seen the film?
SELLERS:  I don't feel I overstretched my limits with Anatomy of a Flood. Projecting on multiple surfaces isn't new, but I think the project does offer an engaging opportunity for viewers. My goal with it is to have the viewer struggle to watch and listen to the narrative while having the secondary images fighting for their attention as well. It is supposed to illicit an emotional response, to disorient or maybe confuse-much like the events of the night of the flooding or much like diving into water and not knowing, for a split second, which way is the way to the top.
But in the end, I want the viewer to be able to say that they had a shared experience and that they may feel closer to our community.
"If you are someone who creates, then I think it is critical that you push yourself and create something that speaks to your community after your community has suffered. The fact that our community has organizations such as The Nickelodeon and One Columbia that not only support and encourage but commission these efforts puts our city in a position to strengthen the fabric that holds it together in ways we won't realize until the years ahead." - Wade Sellers