Missing the world premiere was a painful decision for us, so it was nice to finally attend a screening of Aki Ra’s Boys. Nice to have a full house. Nice to see so many familiar faces in the crowd.

Two questions were raised during the Q&A session. Questions, we didn’t have time to fully answer. So, just for the record:

Q: How much of your documentary was staged?

Nothing in Aki Ra’s Boys, Passabe or Homeless FC was staged. Everything that happened, happened. We do not believe in staging stuff and don’t like to tell our subjects what to do. We find that it is much more rewarding to step back, quietly observe and record. With most shoots, our cameras are rolling all the time, so it’s a lot easier to catch people just being themselves. Being a tiny crew with very little equipment helps too.

We do arrange to interview our subjects. But other than that, we don’t try to direct them to do things. It would be tiresome for the people we’re filming, and ultimately artificial and… staged.

The process is of course, slightly different when we’re making programmes for TV. There are deadlines and fixed formats to follow. Commissioning editors may have specific demands. But even then, we try to work with our subjects, rather than tell them what to do.

Q: Don’t you feel obliged to pay your subjects?

No. We don’t believe in paying people to appear in our documentaries. It would compromise the authenticity of our films and create an unequal relationship between us, and the characters we’re following. Subjects who are paid might end up only doing things they believe will please us. Worse, they might do things they would otherwise never do.

This doesn’t mean we don’t try to give something back in return. We used Passabe for a fundraiser last year. We made a donation to the Landmines Museum when we were shooting Aki Ra’s Boys. And in June, we’re holding a charity screening of Homeless FC, in aid of the Dawn Homeless Football team.