Padrick Ritch, Dylan Stryznski
My wife loves it when some seemingly random, "insert fair name here" breezes through town, or somewhere within driving distance. It's marked on the calendar and rain or shine, summer or winter, we're off on a day trip. You always have the local flea markets available for a quick fix but something about a put-up, tear-down festival calls to her in ways I myself never understood. With that said, it's my wife that does most of the buying - and honestly, she doesn't buy all that often. She more likes to look and take all that creativity in - and truthfully? I have often wondered just how the artists make a living. Do they live solely on their sales from these festivals and shows? Do they have day jobs, and constantly have to request days off? Its always been a bit of a mystery... until now. This film, "The Life We Make" shines a light on that gypsy, awesome life of the travelling artist - and I'm glad to have been given a peek.
As you may have put together, Padrick Ritch and Dylan Stryznski's documentary about travelling art fair artists does not call out to me - as it would to say... someone like my wife. With that said, I found this particular documentary surprisingly interesting and even, dare I say, fun to watch. The material is pretty self explanatory and says just what it is, right on the tin. A documentary about travelling artists and how they live - and make a living via the classic art fair. "The Life We Make" showcases a bunch of different artists and allows us to follow along with fair footage, interviews, and personal histories. I mean... it's exactly what you think a documentary should be - and then some.
You see reader, there is a lot more going on here than I would have thought, and the most interesting thing about this documentary is the personal stories and touches. Through stories and clips, we not only learn about the artists, but also move through history with some of them. We get to hear their stories and what they do - or have done to pursue their love of art. Stories of being the classic starving artist, straight from the horse's mouth. We learn of life adjustments that have been made, financial situations, and through it all one thing rings through loud and clear. Most of these folks simply love to do what they love, they love to travel and just love the life in general. The best part of "The Life We Make" is the stories, the art, and of course - people being people. This film is the equivalent of a feel-good road trip movie - only it's about travelling artists and it's all true life stuff.
From a technical standpoint, there's really not a lot not to like. The version of this movie I had the chance to see was not quite finished, but actually looked pretty good to me. The personal flourishes, such as the text cards having a box labeler font, felt perfect for the movie - as did the constant shuffling between the classic 4X3 images alongside the now-standard widescreen format. Bringing in everything from black and white, to classic, grainy newsreel footage just worked... and worked well.
The other interesting thing I noticed is that the cast - err, interviewees is rather lengthy but somehow, this film manages to still feel light and breezy. This sounds like something easily accomplished but believe me when I write that it is not. The fact that this film doesn't feel lengthy, considering all the people onscreen, is an amazing feat. One that was not lost on me.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to this. Not being a fan of documentaries in general, and not all that artistic myself, the fact I really enjoyed "The Life We Make" speaks volumes. Maybe it was because this film felt a little more personal and less clinical than some, or maybe it was the history thrown in as we listened to the stories of the artists interviewed. Any way you slice it, there's something here that captured even my attention. I have no doubt that those more in line with the content will probably enjoy this film, and appreciate it, in ways I simply can not. "The Life We Make" is a technically sound production that doesn't forget guys like me - that are just maybe, watching along with someone else. For me, a nothing to snub your nose at rating of three and a half stars is in order - but for those who know? Probably more like a four.