Documentaries, probably more than any other genre, span a large spectrum of different elements and sub-genres. Whether that’s in how the film itself is made or the rationale behind its creation. Arguably the most contentious of these is the hybrid documentary or docufiction. A combination of fiction and non-fiction. What makes this style of filmmaking so controversial is the blurring of the lines and the lack of clarity between organic and staged. The Filmmaker’s House is one such conundrum.
Marc Isaacs is trying to make a film but securing funding is becoming increasingly difficult. Indeed, he’s advised to focus on crime, sex or celebrity if he wants to get one made. Marc’s response is to start shooting his next project in his own home; filming with a number of characters who form part of his life. His Columbian cleaner, Muslim neighbour, two English builders contracted to replace his fence and a homeless Slovakian man. It’s the latter who forms the central focus of The Filmmaker’s House.
Largely filmed within Isaac’s home, with the odd sojourn to locate his wayward friend, The Filmmaker’s House conjures up conflicted thoughts. This fictionalisation is hinted at from the start and the actions of the characters also point in this direction. This conceit raises ethical issues for me as I don’t know what is true and what is staged. Taken on good will, it’s a story which pitches together a number of disparate personalities who end up pulling together. A portrait of a divided Britain but one whose inhabitants have much more in common than not.
The Filmmaker’s House screens as part of the Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Rebellion strand on 17 October at the Showroom Cinema.