Pete McCormack is our Video Director at Echo. He has been a storyteller for over 30 years directing film and TV, and as a screenwriter, playwright, songwriter and novelist. His 2010 feature documentary, Facing Ali, was shortlisted for an Academy Award. His 2015 docu-series, Sports on Fire, aired on HBO. He is married to Echo’s founder and president, Samantha Reynolds. They worked closely together on the #TellThemNow video.
Here are Pete’s reflections on the shoot:
Samantha has never met her father—let alone have him say the words she so profoundly deserves to hear. So for her to want to do a shoot that strives to have a father and his children be brave and expressive and elucidate the depth of their connection was very moving.
We had seventeen fathers come in with their children. In a three-minute piece, we couldn’t use everybody in the final video—yet they all gave different kinds of magic. But what we learned almost immediately was that the closer the dad and his child stood to each other, the more raw emotion came up. So throughout the shoot we squeezed successive couples closer and closer together. That was powerful and instructive to watch.
THE WHITE SPACE
Using white space as a background for this shoot was symbolic on two levels. One, the white space puts all the focus on the individuals staring at each other—a sort of nakedness. Two, I have found throughout my career as a director that leaving space is essential to capture the truest emotions in a moment. When you put two people in a room, facing each other, two feet apart, and they talk and then stop talking, it’s in that silence that the compelling, touching and surprising revelations unfold. As a director, you have to really trust enough to not speak and fill that space. It belongs to those being interviewed. It calls out to them subconsciously: fill me, fill me. And that’s where magic happens and people say things they didn’t expect to say.
I was touched and amazed by how we all yearn to be recognized, heard, celebrated and appreciated. The truth is that there is a deep desire in a child of any age—and ours were from 3 to 56—to hear their parent speak of them with pride. How we secretly, quietly long for that. We might not even know it. On the day of our shoot, the room was filled with words that needed to be said. I was humbled to watch that unfold. And yet what I also learned was how easy it actually is. The lesson? Tell them now.