This week on Good and Decent, producer Josh Long and Sara Thoms sit down with filmmaker and producer, Michael Burke. When the podcast team sat down to think about the topic of empathy, we realized many of Grotto’s mini-docs were produced by Michael. Josh and Sara decided to give him a call.
In this episode, Josh reflects on his travels to the U.S.-Mexico border with a group of college students to accomplish two things: peacefully march in protest of the dehumanizing way migrants are being treated there, and help families seek asylum by serving as witnesses and translators.
Before boarding two greyhound buses bound for the border, a guide tells them: “There will be encounter and there will be tension, but the beautiful thing about tension is it’s necessary for any change to occur.” Josh Long was embedded as a videographer in the group, and followed them through the 22-hour pilgrimage aboard the bus. Before reflecting in prayer together, the group’s guide said, “I want to see you act boldly, because this kind of opportunity will change your life.”
When Sara and Josh sat down with Michael, he shared a bit about his personal motivations to do social justice work through filmmaking. He also speaks about the process of documentary filmmaking — the spontaneity and unpredictability of it. For Michael, the lack of empathy found in public policy and the infrastructure at the border inspired a passion in him to tell stories in that space. Josh and Michael discuss the ways their perspective shifted after documenting and witnessing the pilgrims and their work at the border, as well as the bravery of the migrants.
As one pilgrim put it, “Doing something is better than nothing.” What is it that you feel you can do for your community? For the greater human community at large? Keep tuning in to Good and Decent for reflections on what it means to live an extraordinary life as an ordinary person.
“We’re not heroes, we’re just driving trucks in the desert…”