A friend once told me that when you boil it right down, life is about the stories you can tell and time has proven him flawlessly right. Yes of course there are those epic, sprawling yarns which can hold a room full of people enthralled, but the friendships and loves which endure through the years are generally built on a foundation of little moments – those stories which inform who we are and what we mean to each other. It’s what makes us human or as filmmaker Blake Bogosian reveals in his lifelong micro-documentary portrait series, what makes us 100 Percent Human. Bogosian sets the stage for his exploration of the human condition by turning the camera on himself, after which we gather round to hear the production story behind the stories.
I wanted to make a documentary about the guys I grew up with, but I quickly realized I had no time to make a documentary so the next best thing was to make short-form documentaries. I began shooting the project in 2012, starting with my friend Matt and it just ballooned from there. Once I finished the first episode, everyone wanted to do an interview. It’s a very simple concept, tell me a story that makes you human. It can be anything, it doesn’t matter what you tell me, everything makes you human. I have become an addict for stories. Some have more to them than others and some are really boring, as is real life, and I want to preserve this the best way I know how and that is through filmmaking. It really serves as a therapeutic outlet for some. I get calls from friends months after the interview and they tell me how much it’s helped them get through a particular hurdle in their life. That’s the awesome part of the project, it’s personal. That’s why I featured my own story in order to make a statement about what the project is about. To help people realize, there is a story to be told at every turn in your life.
My Director of Photography Tyler Lee Cushing and I shoot 100 Percent Human on the Red Epic Camera with Zeiss Lens. We typically use a two light source setup with Kino flows. We tend to set up one interview at a time, usually at their house. Sometimes we set a meeting time for 3 or 4 people to show up at one location i.e. my house, and we shoot people in one room while other people socialize in the other, kinda like a dinner party environment, super casual. Some people are aware of the interviews and draw inspiration from them and sometimes people have no idea what I’m talking about. Everyone is so unique, so I approach each scenario differently when it comes to directing them. Take the Me vs Blake story for example; my friend Jon came with a list of stories written down and we worked on the best one to tell. While other people literally have no idea what to say and I sit them down for an hour on camera and we work it out through conversation. Once a story is found, we rework it a couple times, start to finish. The mix of monologue and outtakes are mostly things happening unplanned, all natural discoveries.
I am in love with the direct to camera technique. I don’t know why, it’s just amazing. The 30 by 30 episode of The Real Rocky was one of the inspirations for this series! The simple black and white look just makes sense to me, it brings the attention to the story being told, not so much the pretty image. I have a journal that everyone writes their name and title of the story in. I then scan it and use it as the title cards.
I guess the next step in our project is to get a broader age group, it currently seems to be heavy with the 20-30 year olds. My dream is that 1000s of people will go to the site, scroll through and find their story and share it with whomever they choose. I won’t stop making this project ever, lifelong. Working as a commercial editor, it’s awesome to break away and make something meaningful to the people around you, an amazing feeling.