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We sat with Doug over BLTs at a sandwich shop around the corner from his office in DUMBO, a Brooklyn neighborhood home to many filmmakers, musicians and new technology types. Much like the subjects in his films, Doug was extremely open about his experiences making The Kids Grow Up and the unique relationship he has with his daughter, Lucy.
Tribeca: It appears that you had to deal with a fair amount of resentment from your daughter Lucy. How did you deal with the dual roles of both filmmaker and father throughout that period?
Doug Block: It didn’t come up that much during the year, because I didn’t shoot a lot; it was really that last week. Lucy was really stressed out about leaving [for her freshman year of college]. My own theory is that if we hadn’t argued over my filming, it would’ve been something else. She would’ve accused me of not being there for her in another way.
Tribeca: So the camera wasn’t constantly in her face then. Clearly she was comfortable most of the time, but there were moments when she appears clearly upset.
Doug Block: There were moments when she would say, “Oh, Dad, turn the camera off, you don’t want me all pissed off at you.” Those times, it was kind of half bantering. But when she broke down in tears (towards the end), that scene was hard. That was the first time I realized, oh my God, she is deeply upset with me now.
Tribeca: Moments like that must have created conflict between your role as father and as filmmaker.
Doug Block: Absolutely. At that moment I described I was thinking this could just be a thing today that she is feeling and will blow over like so many of our upsets do. What do I do? Do I keep filming? Do I stop? We have all these important shots still to do. I have to shoot her packing for college, leaving the apartment; we have to say goodbye to her on campus—I can’t stop now! But I have to stop now. All this stuff is going through my mind.
But if they don’t press me on turning off the camera, then I generally keep rolling, knowing we can always handle it in the editing room. If I went too far, then I won’t use it. And the camera always had the red light on, so Lucy always knew when I was filming.
Tribeca: That’s the job of the storyteller. Frederick Wiseman, the legendary documentary filmmaker, has spoken about how he goes out of his way to demystify the filmmaking process for his subjects, so they get to that unselfconscious place that much sooner.
Watch the trailer: