“Whenever you start a project,” says documentary filmmaker Martin Krafft, “you never know what it’s going to turn out as—and if you do know, it’s going to be bad, because you’re not engaging in active discovery.”
Martin has spent the last year and a half documenting a friend’s journey with terminal cancer, and views that work as “[a] kind of open process for discernment, where you’re just trying to make yourself open to whatever piece of truth wants to present itself to you, and you just have to accept that process.”
“I’ve just been very grateful for the support that Quakers have shown,” Martin, an attender at several meetings across the United States, adds; for him, making this film has been a way of “putting my Quaker practice into action of living a life of discernment and trying to live a life of truth as much as I am able to.”
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So I think being a good artist, you never know– whenever you start a project you never know what it’s going to turn out as, and if you do know it’s going to be bad because you’re not engaging in active discovery. And so when I work on an art project I’ll start it and I don’t know what’s going to come out of that process. And so Quakerism and being an artist, they compliment each other. They’re constantly reinforcing each other and allowing me to be more creative and thoughtful and open.
Connecting to Quaker Faith Through Film
My name is Martin Krafft. I’m here in Schwenksville, PA. I have attended Annapolis Friends Meeting, Atlanta Friends Meeting, Pima Friends Meeting in Tuscan, Missoula Friends Meeting, and Rochester Friends Meeting, and I’m very glad to be a part of all those different communities.
So I’m primarily a documentary filmmaker these days. I am working on a feature-length documentary about my friend Rachel’s journey with terminal cancer, so I’ve spent the past year and a half working on that project of just trying to be present in Rachel’s life and, yeah, I’ve ended up very invested in her life. You know, she’s like a family member at this point and so I’ve had to kind of dedicate myself to this process of being present in her life.
Discernment in Quaker Process and Filmmaking
So I’m a man making a film about a woman who has had very little privilege in her life, and I’ve had a fair amount of privilege in my life. And so figuring out how do I tell Rachel’s story truthfully while also balancing how Rachel wants to be seen? So I have all this power and what I see as the truth is not always the same as what Rachel sees or wants to share, and so I’m filming her and I have all these ethical questions about how much of Rachel do I show? How do I show her? How do I try to balance the power of showing her in ways that she feels good about without sugarcoating some of the more difficult parts of her life? And I think that really ties into Quakerism because I don’t know, and every time you go into meeting for worship you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s this kind of open process for discernment where you’re just trying to make yourself open to whatever piece of truth wants to present itself to you and you just have to accept that process. So I think as a filmmaker I just have to commit myself to that process, and similar to being a Quaker and having to sit with the uncertainty of truth, I have to do that as a filmmaker, too.
Faith and Creation
Yeah, I’ve just been very grateful for the support that Quakers have shown for this process, and I think that making this film is kind of me putting my Quaker practice into action of living a life of discernment and trying to live a life of truth as much as I am able to. My spiritual beliefs are centered around the human capacity for creativity, of being able to be anyone. We can be anyone, we can do pretty much anything that we want and that’s a pretty magical opportunity that we all have.
- In this video, Martin shares how he uses continuing revelation and active discernment in his filmmaking process. How do you use these practices in your everyday and/or professional life?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.