A Discussion on Video and Empathy with Jimmy Chin
Video is a powerful motivator, often channeling the kind of stories that inspire and captivate the audiences that watch them. We asked renowned adventurer and award-winning filmmaker Jimmy Chin his thoughts on the power of video to tell stories and connect audiences.
How did you get started directing and creating your own documentary films?
I never had formal instruction on photography or filmmaking. I was self-taught and spent most of my career making it up as I went. For the most part, I feel like I still am. I started as a climber first. I loved and still love climbing and being in the mountains. That passion for living life and pushing myself was my door into understanding people who did the same. It was through that door that allowed me access to photograph and later film with some of the greatest athletes and adventurers of our time.
I’m motivated to tell these stories of people dreaming and achieving the impossible but also to show the realities, sacrifice, hard work, and tenacity it requires to achieve anything great. These are the stories that inspire me and push me to do my best work.
What is something you believe video has the power to do that nothing else does?
I think we are told a lot of ideas, given things to think about. We get a lot of material to digest intellectually. Film is powerful because it can not only get ideas across on an intellectual level, but it can make you feel something, experience something new, see something in a way you never had before. It can transport you. That is a very powerful tool. If you do your job well, you can create empathy.
Films are one of the most incredible mediums to create empathy. You have the opportunity to share an experience with someone from a totally different world or perspective. And not only will your audience learn something new and see something from a different point of view, but they should feel something and be moved.
Why do you think it is important for video experts to share their stories and ideas?
Films have the capacity to not only convey complex ideas to audiences on an intellectual level but also have the potential to move people on a visceral and emotional level.
It is an incredibly powerful tool to do good in the world. You never know who will be moved and inspired by your work and what it will motivate them to do in the future.
This year we’re talking about the importance of serious storytelling through video. Why do you think it’s important to be serious about what you do?
I believe in pursuing my craft with passion and excellence. There is an incredible opportunity to contribute to the human experience and understanding of the world. There is also an amazing opportunity for self-discovery in one’s journey towards perfecting a craft. It can provide meaning and purpose in one’s life. Is there anything more important?
Lastly, where do you see the future of video going in 2020 and beyond?
I believe technology will help enhance the potential for filmmaking and the viewer’s experience in the future, but the age-old craft of storytelling and creating empathy will always be at the core of making great films.