Skip to main content

At Full Frame, worlds collide.

As all corners of the documentary field converged onto our city in April, we found ourselves curious about who’s (already) here. Who makes Full Frame possible? Who’s coming, or even screening a film, from North Carolina? Who in Durham loves the power of story, too? We set out to meet our neighbors – and needless to say, we were blown away by the curiosity all around us. From volunteers to students to filmmakers, we hope you enjoy this mosaic of the festival community right here in Durham!

Know someone in the #FFportraits gallery? Want to share how you #fullframefest? Join the conversation on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. If you haven’t already, check out our Reel Durham video portrait of the festival to learn why we love documentary!



This week, you’ll hear from Adrian Gilliam, our spring intern. A gregarious graduate of the communications program at UNC, Adrian tested out his gift of gab on the festival landscape!


I recently had the privilege of attending the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival alongside StoryDriven. Oh, I should probably introduce myself! I’m Adrian, the new intern. This was my first outing as part of the StoryDriven team, so it was mostly a gauntlet of firsts that I had to run. That being said, my nerves didn’t get in the way of me enjoying the experience!

Elliot and I set out together to profile the people of Full Frame as a tag team. He would interview the folks we met about Full Frame, and I would record the interviews and photograph portraits of them. This was the first time I had ever done man-on-the-street-style interviews, and I learned a lot about approaching and interviewing strangers from watching Elliot. A good strategy, I found, was to approach people and start up a conversation for at least a few minutes before asking someone if they’d like to do an interview. Asking people cold was too intimidating, and folks would often say no reflexively because they felt uncomfortable talking to a stranger, let alone on camera. As someone who is anxious about interacting with strangers, what I took away from watching Elliot approach people about interviews was, after a few minutes of chatting off-camera, neither of you feel like total strangers anymore, and people would be more likely to agree to an interview and be more comfortable doing it.

I noticed fairly quickly that the scope of the kinds of people who were affected by Full Frame was wider than I anticipated. It was really fascinating to be able to talk to attendees and find out how the documentary form impacted them and why they enjoyed the films. The current that ran through the majority of responses was that the festival made them feel connected to others: through attending screenings together, going to talkbacks with directors, and at the heart of it all, seeing the authentic stories of others and learning that we as people are often more connected than we seem. The people working the festival as volunteers or employees remarked on the positive impact the festival had on the Durham community. They recognized that it was the coming together of people to share their stories and learn about one another and people in places they may never see that was at the heart of it all. As one festival-goer, Katherine Neer, put it:

“One of my favorite things about this film festival is you get people of all ages and stages of their lives, that come together for four days and watch these amazing documentaries. And then, in the moments in between the documentaries, you have these awesome conversations with people you would have never met before, with all different kinds of backgrounds and perspectives, coming together and commenting and sharing their thoughts. So, it’s kinda cool!”

More than just how to conduct field interviews, I learned that our desire to feel connected to others and build empathy is at the heart of the documentary as a form.

Oh, and I got to take pictures, which was pretty fun!


How do you start conversations? Tell us what works for you – and what doesn’t!

Chrislyn Choo

Brand Journalist at StoryDriven (@strydrvn)

Leave a Reply