, Coworking, Film Production

The Journey to Publication: A Sea of Conflict

Journey to Publication - The Lookout DC Creative Coworking

The above photo depicts Afghan and British soldiers being deployed in Helmand province for combat operations in southern Afghanistan, 2009 ©Eros Hoagland.

Fast forward to a November night in 2015 and a hushed anticipation falls over the crowd of filmmakers, directors, and producers huddled together on the top floor of The Lookout during the first official screening of CONFLICT.

CONFLICT is a series of short documentaries about conflict photographers, including Hoagland, and their work – as images from Donna Ferrato’s work about domestic violence gripped the audience through 6 minutes of heartbreak, anger, ferocity and betrayal. Such is the pace of short documentaries. Warp-speed story telling that distills the essence of its subjects into a high-impact narrative.

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Nick Fitzhugh and Rob Shore discuss Conflict after a soft premier at The Lookout. © Andy DelGiudice

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Behind the Scenes of the Nicole Tung episode of Conflict. © Rob Shore

CONFLICT began back in 2012 when Nick Fitzhugh & Rob Shore teamed up with Pete Muller to self-fund, shoot and produce a short documentary about Muller’s work in conflict areas. Like many good ideas, their efforts began with a simple plan; produce a short pilot documentary that can be used as a proof of concept for a much larger production down the road.

As they began to build the narrative of Muller’s feature, Fitz and Shore realized they were presented with a unique opportunity to not only explore how traditional conflict is covered today, but to also dissect the very definition of conflict and what can, and should be, considered conflict photography. This deeper investigation into the question of “what is conflict” lead to a series of short vignettes about a number of photographers who’s work, to Nick and Rob, encapsulated the various elements and repercussions of human conflict.

In the case of their budding series, “conflict” came in the form of domestic violence and abuse, the enduring underlying tensions that often provoke conflict within societies, the long-lasting physical and mental impact of photographing violence, and what it mean’s to loose loved ones, colleagues, or to walk away from the practice in general.

hese discoveries fascinated Fitzhugh and Shore but their efforts to move their concept into a larger production were hit with roadblocks and false starts. Nat Geo eventually provided funding for a series of short docs, but pulled the plug on publishing before the finished product hit the air. The search for an outlet continued and their commitment to getting their work seen eventually paid off with an exclusive premier on CNN International with Christiane Amanpour. A feature on The Atlantic VIDEO section soon followed, along with a 2016 Webby Winner for Best Documentary Series and as of July 6th, 2016, the six episode series is now available for streaming on Netflix.

And now, as societies around the world continue to engage in various forms of conflict, it’s now as important as ever to take a step back and evaluate how we define, interpret, record and hopefully recover from conflict.

Journey to Publication - The Lookout DC Cretive Coworking

Joao Silva is interviewed outside of Johannesburg, South Africa during the production of his episode of Conflict: Miniseries. © Nick Fitzhugh

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Janice. 1998 ©Donna Ferrato

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