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306 Hollywood: Discussion Guide

Letter From the Filmmakers

We are siblings who for years have aspired to make feature documentaries that reveal the myths and magic of everyday life. Towards this end, we set off to create 306 Hollywood, using humor, fantasy, and drama to transform the story of an old lady into an epic tale of what remains after life ends.

Before our grandmother Annette died, our intention was to make a candid and humorous film from the perspective of old age (“Getting old isn’t for sissies!” she always said). This project was based on 10 years of interviews we filmed with her. However, when we returned to Annette’s house after her funeral, we were faced with the grim reality of having to sell the house and throw out all of her possessions. That is when another, more complex, story emerged.

It is easy to take a house for granted. Domestic space is often overlooked, underestimated and left out of the mainstream record. Yet here was a space where our family had lived for 70 years. The thousands of objects that remained revealed layers of history—personal, social, and cultural. “A house is a universe,” physicist Alan Lightman declares in one interview. We believe this wholeheartedly, that our sense of time, identity and relationships are all connected to the home.

We are interested in rethinking the documentary form and are inspired by fairy tales, myths and magical realism. Fairy tales have been used for thousands of years to articulate our deepest fears and ease life transitions. We also believe that real life stories should be as entertaining and accessible as narrative films. Our cinematic language springs from this tradition and uses a technique called “normalized magic” where the day-to-day is collapsed with the wondrous. 306 Hollywood uses magical interventions to open the story to greater possibilities, to express the film’s themes of the visceral experience of grief and the psychological nature of memory, and to plumb the psychological truths that escape our everyday language.

We aim to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Our background is in the visual arts and we apply this sensibility to every one of our images. We crafted dozens of installations from Annette’s possessions; built a scale model of the house; turned our grandfather’s office into a mythical kingdom; and the last scene shows the entire house covered in the clothing of everyone who lived at 306 Hollywood.

— Elan and Jonathan Bogarín

About the authors

Faith Rogow

Faith Rogow, Ph.D., is the co-author of The Teacher's Guide to Media Literacy: Critical Thinking in a Multimedia World (Corwin, 2012) and past president of the National Association for Media Literacy Education. She has written discussion guides and lesson plans for more than 250 independent films.