BY SARAH GINSBURG // March 2014
Ondi Timoner has this presence; an energy that is so palpable you feel it come through her films, her interviews, and her writing. She’s strong. She’s confident. Yet she’s curious; and she’s hungry for the story. Ondi devotes all she’s got to getting the story. However long it takes, she’ll stick around to witness it unfold and then some. “I wanted to shoot life thoroughly as it was happening so I could recreate it for people,” said Ondi of her first big feature Dig! (2004), “I wanted to shoot a drama that unfolded.” Dig! came out of seven years of following two packs of very talented but very reckless musicians, also known as bands. It was a crazy equation of two-thousand hours of footage whittled down to a one hour and forty seven minute masterpiece. Ondi Timoner is her work. You can’t help but see her in everything she puts out there. I suppose this may be stating the obvious, as all art is a reflection of the artist, but I find it especially true with Ondi. For example, there’s never a dull moment. It seems as if Ondi is constantly making and releasing and planning projects. Her films move at the same pace her life moves. She even says herself, “My goal always is to make a very seamless film, where there are no breaks, there is no time you want to go to the fridge. If you take your eyes off of it or you’re bored for a minute, a second, then I haven’t done my job.” Ondi is energized by the rapid pace at which our world moves forward. Whereas some folks, including myself, are often discouraged and intimidated while trying to keep up; I picture Ondi, the badass that she is, crowd surfing these waves of technological advancements and reveling in every moment of it. Sometimes I find that the camera, the tool that allows me to document, can actually be the one thing that holds me back. I get overwhelmed with my gear as I pile one thing on top of another just to get some decent sound and a stable image. Ondi, on the other hand, quickly adapts. During Dig!, she cycled through various 16mm, Hi-8, and DV cameras. She uses the tools she can get her hands on; the tools that get her in and get her access. Ondi gravitates towards people taking big risks and therefore stories with a lot of motion. She’s interested in movements. From Dig! to Join Us (2007) to We Live In Public (2009) to her more recent short form projects like B.Y.O.D, she seeks to document, define and therefore be a part of these revolutions. I admire her passion to engage with other media makers, dissecting their work with them to share with the rest of us. A Total Disruption (2014) is Ondi’s latest; a series of stories profiling today’s innovators of technology. As the daughter of an entrepreneur, Ondi believes celebrating the movement is a worthy pursuit. She says she believes, “all of us have some idea that we think will change the world and we just need to know how to do it, so I think I couldn’t be engaging in something more inspiring for myself or other people.” Ondi Timoner doesn’t stop. She doesn’t let up. She’s changed her approach from spending long periods of time with subjects to more episodic work, spending less time with more subjects but covering more ground and reaching a wider audience. Why, we ask, has she moved away from the format she started with? Just as technology and techniques and stories change in unpredictable ways, so will Ondi. The one thing we can predict is where we will find her: smack dab in the middle of the movement.