From Inside of Here, a documentary film by Bill Basquin is a truly personal and intimate documentary film which explores nature and the wild world through the filmmaker’s unique perspective. The film uses many aspects of cinematography, multiple media types and meaningful storytelling to show the fragile but interconnected world of an ecosystem, through both the filmmaker’s and audiences’s own eyes.
One of the most important aspects of the film is its evoking of silent film elements, such as when the text is shown with sounds of the ecosystem in the background. Especially moments like when the text over the screen explains the camping directions and rules of the site, the inclusion of natural sounds in the backgrounds evokes a silent film, but one that takes place in a more natural element due to the background sounds. The audience is put into an interesting position in the film just as the director is, since the film follows and mentions many harsh aspects of the wild, like encounters with wolves, hunters and other dangers, the audience is kept on edge despite the seemingly peaceful environment presented, especially at the beginning of the film when long takes of wilderness are shown.
In an interview with New Jersey Film Festival Director Al Nigrin, Director Bill Basquin mentions having trust in the audience to discern the truth from interviews in the film, which works as an important theme of the film overall. The audience trusts the director to guide them through this unfamiliar and wild world, and to evaluate the subjects of the film accordingly. This trust Basquin places in the audience is essential to the viewing experience, as it becomes much more a cooperative journey through an ecosystem, rather than the viewers simply watching a film.
The cinematography style employed presents the film very much as a home movie, which emphasizes the film's personal impact to its director. When the footage from the documentary film Range (which was filmed on Basquin's fathers farm) is shown, it's small size is not only how the film looks, but also represents the past and once the current film is shown larger, it cements our view in the present. Basquin in the prior interview also mentions how the organization leading the repopulation of the Mexican Grey wolves efforts directly descends from the one that once almost drove them to extinction. This is an interesting parallel between the ideas of personal impact and family Basquin mentions at the beginning of the film, when explaining his father during the showing of Range. In addition, one of the main points of the reintroduction is to try and keep the people living there and the wolves separate, which the film bypasses by giving the audience a rare look into not only the wolves and their life, but the entire area of nature as a whole. This dynamic only further advances during the times where the wolves recognize the director as the predator of the area, and act accordingly.
These relationships and dynamics is what drives the films exploration of its surroundings, and it sometimes feels like there are characters at play despite it being a documentary. From Inside of Here is inherently personal, beginning with highlighting Basquin's connection to his father and how it led him to create the film, and taking the audience on a journey through nature, and the cycle of an ecosystem.
From Inside of Here screens at the Fall 2023 New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, September 24. The film will be Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 5 PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ. From Inside of Here Director Bill Basquin will be at the in-person screening and will do a Q+A with the audience after the screening. Tickets are available for purchase here.