Procession director Robert Greene said he would have stopped filming at any point if it was harming his subjects. He followed six survivors of sexual abuse by Kansas City priests as they re-created scenes of their experiences in the church. Greene spoke at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Documentary about the Netflix movie.
“Basically, the first day of filming, which you see in the film, that could’ve been the last day of filming,” Greene said. “We started the meeting saying: ‘Today isn’t about what we’re going to do. Today is about whether we should do it.’ ”
A drama therapist, Monica Phinney, was involved in helping the men re-create the scenes in a healthy way. Procession technically wasn’t drama therapy, but Greene felt a responsibility to consult professionals throughout the process.
“We thought that doing these staged scenes that come from the guys, that come from the guys taking back power from these images, they’re taking back power from the church in a sense directly,” Greene said. “That could get at the heart of that a little bit better than just a more straightforward approach.”
Greene added that the men’s lawyer articulated how trauma arises both from the abuse itself and taking power away from the victims. Recognizing that film involves power dynamics between directors and subjects, Greene allowed the subjects to put together their own recreations of their stories.
“Really what it was was just watching them empower each other,” Greene said. “This is about giving these guys power. Frankly, that made a more creative, more interesting film as well because their ideas were good. We knew making a movie can be cathartic itself.”
Procession is now streaming on Netflix.
Check out the panel video above.
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