The Cinematography Podcast Episode 79: Yance Ford and Alan Jacobsen

Yance Ford’s powerful documentary, Strong Island, is about the murder of his brother, William Ford Jr. in 1992. The man who killed William, who is white, claimed self-defense when William, who was black and unarmed, confronted the man over shady car repairs. The decision by an all-white grand jury not to prosecute caused Yance’s family even more devastation. The film conveys the personal agony and visceral grief in tight closeups on family, friends and Yance himself. Interestingly, at first Yance had a set of rules for how he wanted the documentary to be shot. Number one: he did not want to be on camera. But cinematographer Alan Jacobsen broke the rules, secretly shooting Yance from a corner one day while he was absorbed in looking at old photographs. They both saw how powerful it was to have Yance take a front-and-center role in the documentary. That intimacy proved to be the most important aspect of Strong Island, but the most difficult part for Yance. A first time director at the time, Yance felt fortunate to have the luxury of working on Strong Island for ten years as a two person team with Alan, and every creative decision of what the film would look and feel like was carefully and deliberately made. Alan used the camera as a tool to maintain the intimacy of the film. He would never pan or tilt, and he kept most shots tightly framed. Every shot was held for at least 60 seconds to hold the intensity and force the audience to watch, even if it became uncomfortable. Strong Island was nominated for an Academy Award in 2018 and also won a Creative Arts Emmy.

You can stream Strong Island right now on Netflix.

Yance Ford is a transgender director, and he talks about his experience in Hollywood in the documentary Disclosure, on Netflix June 19.

Yance also directed a segment of the Netflix series, Trial by Media.

Cinematographer Alan Jacobsen recently worked on the documentary Rebuilding Paradise for director Ron Howard.

Find Yance Ford: Twitter @yford

Strong Island: @strongislandfilm

Find Alan Jacobsen: Instagram @alanjax7

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Close Focus: New information came out for The Academy Awards this year. The Oscars are pushed back until April 25 and the qualifying dates for films are also pushed to February 28. The Academy also announced the “next phase of equity and inclusion initiatives” five years after Oscars So White. #oscarssowhite

Ben’s short end: Ponysmasher, a YouTube channel by director David F. Sandberg: Shazam!, Lights Out (short) and Annabelle Creation. He posts his short films here and and shares the filmmaking tools he uses and how to make your own.

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Instagram: @thecinepod

Twitter: @ShortEndz

Podcast Credits:

Editor in Chief:  Illya Friedman@hotrodcameras instagram@illyafriedman instagram

Ben Rock:  @neptunesalad twitter@bejamin_rock instagram

Producer: Alana Kode

Editor: Ben KatzComposer: Kays Alatractchi

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