To tell that story, visual journalist Nicholas Weissman, 26, focuses on subtleties, the seemingly normal moments that can turn into multi-layered images.
Based out of Bushwick, Brooklyn, but born in Los Angeles, Weissman attended the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, to study visual journalism, photography and documentary filmmaking. There he received the Brooks NPPA Best of Photojournalism Award, among other awards.
Weissman said he developed a passion for photography in high school, where he worked in a darkroom for four years.
“I wanted to travel make a difference and tell stories,” he said.
After college, he traveled to Europe, Mexico, Cuba, Russia, and then to Haiti to film the aftermath of the earthquake for Time Magazine.
Now he freelances for media outlets including Sports Illustrated, Public Broadcasting Station (PBS), The History Channel, and Sony Pictures.
Weissman also focuses on New York issues; recently he directed and produced The Iron Triangle, which documents Willets Point in Queens.
Last year, The Minutemen, a documentary he produced and edited, won the Brooklyn Festival Grand Chameleon and Best Documentary Award, and during the fall of 2010 it won second place in the Chicago Film Festival.
The 82-minute documentary follows a group of vigilante patriots in 2005. Prompted by a lack of government involvement and dissatisfaction with the Bush administration, the group of men place themselves along the United States-Mexican border to prevent immigrants from entering.
Weissman and his crew watched the men for four-years in a barren desert, “a no man’s land,” as he called it.
This year Weissman left the producing chair to sit on the Brooklyn Festival judges panel to give his critique on documentaries.
“You don’t just look at a film in terms of quality and storytelling, but also newsworthy, impact and relevancy,” he said.
Weissman plans to continue freelancing and working on his “passion projects,” one of them the privatization of public assets and those often owned by international governments.
For example, in Chicago, parking meters were sold to Abu Dhabi, giving them free leeway to raise rates with no local oversight.
“When you loose a government asset that’s a tax revenue,” said Weissman, “all the money coming in to run it is not going to [United States residents].”
When asked about fictional narrative filmmaking, the California native said he prefers documenting reality.
“Things are so surreal in their own reality without having to push the boundaries,” he said, “it makes it that much more amazing.”
Check out www.theminutemenmovie.com for a trailer of The Minutemen, coming soon to online and DVD release.