“What Happened to Tom?” A Socially Constructed “Automentary”

Document Type

Grant Proposal

Date Accepted

Summer 2007

Project Description/Abstract

Directors such as Ross McElwee (Sherman’s March), Nathaniel Kahn (My Architect), and Mark Moskowitz (Stone Reader) have blurred distinctions between objective documentary and subjective autobiographical film. Ostensibly investigating subjects of broad social importance, each director’s “automentary” also functions as an investigation of his identity and sense of self. Importantly, each film operates under the assumption that individual identity is not static and pre-existing, but continually constructed through social interaction, collaboration, and reflection. This proposal purposefully extends the “automentary” genre by foregrounding the socially constructed and dialogical nature of the self and identity. On one level, this project is a filmic portrait of my friend Tom, who had great potential as an artist but is currently working as a gopher for New York City accounting firm: What happened? On a second level, this is a film about my identity and role in assembling and constructing a version of Tom’s identity.

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