Interview: James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty

What's it like working together with each other on film projects?  

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly... There is no separation of personal life and work life, it's all intertwined, and that's a good thing because we understand why our partner needs to work late or travel so much.  We're also clear on our roles. But we both have very strong opinions, and very different working styles, which just adds to to drama, as well as the creativity!  

How do you decide what kind of film you're going to make? Do you specialize in a particular genre?  

It's not easy to make a living full time at documentaries, so we're very practical about what we produce in many ways. But it's also a clear lifestyle choice we've made. We feel our particular niche is to share little know stories of human inspiration.  There's already enough investigative 24hr reporting out there to overwhelm; we feel it's important to share stories of those who have overcome great obstacles, that change is possible, and although you may cry at the heartbreak and pain experienced by the people in our films, in the end we tell stories of human triumph. 

What are your three favourite documentary films?

Hmmm…here are 2 to start…  

Robert Flaherty’s "Nanook of the North" (1922) This is the great grandaddy of all documentaries. Recently watched it with our daughter and she was mesmerized. 

The Maysles "Gimme Shelter" (1970)  This film epitomizes the 60s.  It’s got rock and roll, Hell’s Angels, drugs, alcohol, fast talking lawyers behind the scenes, and more.  

How many documentary films have you made together?  We've produced about nine films together, since changing our career path to strictly docs…

 

What are some challenges which people outside the film industry may not be aware of?  

Working in a foreign language is tough, scouring for archival footage in multiple countries to bring to life the stories being told, and rechecking-rechecking-rechecking – to make sure you not only have the facts straight, but the nuance and subtleties of the people, the culture and events are correctly portrayed. And as is forever the case for docs…fundraising, fundraising, fundraising…we have many supporters to thank on that front.

 

Why did you decide to make The Singing Revolution?

Was there an inspiration behind it or awareness you wanted to create around a particular issue?  We were in Estonia, teaching a course at the first university to teach film after the end of the Soviet occupation. People started to share stories with us: casually at first, sitting over dinner, through friendships. People shared their heartbreaking family history, and cried as they described participating in the singing revolution events. We were so moved, in particular because we had heard so little of what had happened in Estonia. When we returned home it was amazing to tell the story, and we were shocked at how other, well informed people also knew so little of these events.  That's when we decided, if not us, who?  If not now, when?  This is a powerful human story that all people in all countries should be aware of. The Singing Revolution was fueled by ordinary, every-day people who refused to believe that freedom was out of their reach. 

 

Where can people watch the film?  

The film is available for download or on DVD at https://singingrevolution.com/  And for the die-hards, we also launched The Singing Revolution Library with over 4 hours of additional interview segments and research documents categorized by topic.https://singingrevolution.com/tsr-library (The film is also on Netflix and Amazon, but, of course, we feel it's always better to support the film site directly when possible.)

 

How can our readers stay up to date with your work?  

You can follow discussion and activity with the Singing Revolution on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheSingingRev/ and twitter  @TheSinging_Rev, and learn about our other film work at http://www.skyfilmsinc.com/.

 
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