Autovino: Yeah, they balance each other out.
TFPN: Maybe that’s just how it works in life too when there aren’t cameras around.
Autovino: Right, and I’ve had that complaint about my work before: is it funny or is it sad? Well, it can be both and it is both. Life is never just drama, it’s never one tone or one mood. A lot of films are one tone, but that’s boring to me. That doesn’t reflect my reality at all.
TFPN: Are there ways to capture a comedic or dramatic tone within an individual shot, as opposed to the overall rhythm of a film?
Autovino: Sure, a shot can indicate comedy or drama. Wide shots can be a bit awkward feeling.
Chang: Symmetry too.
Autovino: Getting very close during an emotional moment can obviously heighten the drama, but as far as shooting for documentary is concerned, you get it any way you can!
Chang: That’s the beauty of documentaries: you never know what you’re going to get.
Autovino: When you get that moment, if you were to put it in a narrative, no one would believe it. Like at one point Justin says “Failure is worse than death.” If you put that in a narrative, people would be like “Oh, come on!” But it fits! And then right after that, he’s talking about hot dogs. [laugh] So that’s life.
TFPN: Right, and I think there were moments in the film that contain both emotions in the same scene or the same shot. For example, at one point you ask Billy Jack where Kody’s mother is, not knowing that they’re divorced, while he’s in full costume and face-paint!
Chang: I come from a divorced family so I should have known, but I just asked the question. It was at the beginning of shooting and it was a scary moment [laughs].
TFPN: You capture some very emotional, intimate moments with your subjects like that one. How did your relationship with them develop? Was it difficult to get them to open up?