Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wal-Mart: The High Cost Of Low Price

The book Wal-mart: the High Cost of Low Price is a behind the scenes/making of the documentary with the same name. I generally do not watch making of video's and I am even less likely to read a making of book for a film. Which probably makes a person wonder why did I read it. I read it because I wanted to see the differences in how the documentary was made in comparison to a major motion picture (I have watched a few making of videos), wanted to see if it included some more facts that did not make the film, and because it was short.

The book gives a break down on how the research was done and talks about the shooting and editing a bit. It mentions problems that were encountered making the documentary like insufficient funding (mainly because no one wanted to go against a company as big as Wal-mart), trying to keep the fact that they were making a documentary about Wal-mart secret (so as to not allow Wal-mart to spin the facts or attempt to shut down production), and not scheduling enough time. The most interesting thing, at least I think so, was that there was a deluge of information on the bad things that Wal-mart does. A lot of times people who make documentaries have to spend a lot of time gathering up and searching for information, this movie had the opposite problem, there was so much information that they didn't know how to add anywhere near all of it.

While I did kind of like the pointers that are interspersed through out the book on how to make a politically motivated documentary and connect with grass roots organizations to get the message out; I would have liked it if they had added more information on Wal-marts practices. It is highly unlikely that I will make a film of my own, though not entirely unfeasible since I do know how to use a digital video camera and can edit video on a computer (though not at a professional level), so most of the information is basically useless. Considering the amount of information he claims was available on Wal-mart, he could have put a chapter or two just on facts not included in the movie or added them into the making of part.

Overall it was an okay, but not a great book. It feels as if the author rushed while writing the book and could have done a better job, at least that's the impression I got while reading it. I did find the process of making the documentary interesting enough to finish the book but I really think it should have included more on the subject of the movie as well as the making of the documentary (that and I would like to know more about the acquiring information for the China segment). If you just want the information on Wal-mart the book does, at the end, include a list of links to get more information on Wal-mart via the internet. The documentary was much better than the book.

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