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Filmmaker doesn’t just see life, she documents it
by Krystal Bick
Sep 23, 2008 | 1010 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Krystal Bick - Filmmaker Gwen Clancy sets up her camera, preparing for a shoot to be included in her upcoming documentary, “Taking Back the River.”
Tribune/Krystal Bick - Filmmaker Gwen Clancy sets up her camera, preparing for a shoot to be included in her upcoming documentary, “Taking Back the River.”
Gwen Clancy has seen all of Nevada — through the lens of a camera.

Clancy, a director and producer of her own documentary series, has been making short films since graduating from college and has been hooked ever since. Now as the primary producer for several local Nevada causes and organizations, she is enthralled by the process of filmmaking.

“It (filmmaking) combines all art forms in one form,” Clancy said, explaining that the shooting and music selection process are all vital parts to take into consideration while making a film. “I want to contribute stuff that is really excellent and worthwhile.”

Now with nearly 70 half-hour films under her belt, Clancy attacks each one with more vigor than the last. Her most recent documentary undertaking involves the restoration and reconstruction of the Truckee River out at Lockwood, Nev.

“I always take whatever it is that I am doing,” Clancy said of her work, “and try to take it to another level.”

Working closely with such organizations as the Nature Conservancy and the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs, Clancy said she has always enjoyed finding passionate issues, particularly dealing with nature and cultural aspects.

“Inspiration for me comes from topics or people who are really lit up by something,” Clancy said. “The process is very organic and everyone is putting in their input. The film really then takes a life of its own.”

She has made films on topics ranging from ancient petroglyphs in rural areas to historical accounts of how the Silver State used to be up in Virginia City. Acting as her own director, producer and filmographer, Clancy said she easily spends six to nine months producing usually between eight and 10 films at any given time. Such ambition, she said, doesn’t overwhelm her either.

“I feel fortunate to do what I do,” Clancy said. “(In film) you can’t allow yourself to be intimidated, you can’t afford to shrink away from that challenge. And to me, film demands everything that I have. It really gets in your blood.”

And it’s been in her blood for awhile now. Clancy’s first film, which affirmed her love of filmmaking, was an expose of an historic motel threatened to be torn down due to fire hazards. Eventually, the state Legislature was convinced to preserve the building.

“I would hope that they (viewers) would want to choose to do what they can (for a cause),” Clancy said. “(When filming) I ask myself, ‘Will it move the conversation forward? Will viewers have learned something? Will they have shifted how they view a topic?’ “

Keeping her viewers always in mind, Clancy said she ultimately hopes her audience will see a perspective they may have never considered before.

“I want to touch, move and inspire the viewer,” Clancy said. “I want to make a story that is well told, that is beautiful on some level and that makes a possible contribution. Otherwise, why waste anyone’s time?”

Clancy’s upcoming screening at the Nevada Historical Society on Sept. 22 will feature “Behind the T-Shirt Curtain,” which details some of the history behind Virginia City’s buildings and mines. Admission is free.

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