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"what it was like "

Key characters in "Country Boys" talk about the experience of being followed by a camera over the course of three years.

Cody Perkins:

Well, there was times, you know, when you're 16 years old, you don't sometimes want a camera following you around. But over the years I became good friends with all of them, especially David [Sutherland], and that helped a little bit. I wasn't going to go through all that crap to not finish it.

…To an extent, you get used to it. When you're sitting in class, all the other kids, they don't have them go home with them and follow them. So they're all a little nervous. There's a lot of things in the film that's really honest and true because of the fact that you just -- I don't know, it's like brushing your teeth is what I've said before. You just do it. You don't even worry about it. You don't think about it during the day. It just happens. So you get used to it after a while. I did, anyway. I can't speak for Chris.

 

Chris Johnson:

To tell the truth, at first I was very nervous. But after time I just got so used to them being around, the camera sometimes being right in your face more than a couple of inches away from you. It was like they weren't even there. There were times I'd be asleep and I'd wake up and not even acknowledge them in the room. But yeah, I'd say after a time it becomes easier. I guess that's the best way for life to progress.

 

Danny Greene, Founder and Director of the David School:

My perspective -- I actually told David [Sutherland] no. Having lived down there already many years, I had seen where many cameras had come through Appalachia with an agenda, with a particular focus. And I felt that more often over the years, in '68 to the mid-'90s that the media in general seemed to be reinforcing the stereotype, and that they really weren't looking at a balanced view, where, you know, like through Cody's and Chris's eyes, they would see not only the despair, but the hope and the failure and the success.

And so myself, not really acquainted with documentary work, when David came to David, I was very protective. I said no. I couldn't imagine cameras in the school. I could not imagine being mic'd. And I watched "The Farmer's Wife," and I was so touched and moved, and I have to say that really David and the crew were very respectful to let life be as it is in David, that there was a very strong comfort level surprisingly I found it, because we could be in a dining room and the camera could be 40 feet away upstairs in the mezzanine shooting through a glass window, and you didn't even know. There were days I'd walk into work, I had no idea who was on a wireless mic, which sometimes it's scary.

I found it very comfortable, you know, once you kind of got used to that. And they showed a great deal of respect for the boys, their lives, the region, and I'm really very pleased with that. But I was a hard one to convince for them to come in.

 

David Sutherland on why he chose Chris and Cody:

Well, the big criteria for me is -- I'm a portraitist. And so, one, I need to know that someone is articulate. I need to know -- like, with the Buschkoetters in "The Farmer's Wife" -- that I think that no matter what lies ahead of them, that they'll go the distance. Meaning, if I'm going to film for four years that I can see enough in the personality that they'll do that. Then, obviously, I look at their personal dramas. I mean, sometimes people have more spectacular stories or less. The question is a combination of personality traits, how open they are, do they wear their heart on their shoulder. I want you to really get into their skin and to experience what they're going through. So I looked at a lot of kids, and I was sure when I chose them that they could do it. But I never have a sense of what direction their lives will go.

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posted jan. 9, 2006

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