Watching Nick Broomfield + Joan Churchill's "Tattooed Tears" (1979) reminded me on the value of access.
What is access?
It's when the subject feels so comfortable around you, they let you to film anything.
Access is granted according to your likability as a person.
The relationships you build with people.
It's being accepted in the company of police officers dragging a teenager to the ground after he's attempted suicide in a dark corner of the prison, and handcuffing him to the bars of the door while he's screaming...
Not only does it make gripping cinema, but that's access.
You can't just walk in and film that.
You don't get that kind of footage on day one
(Although, hey! Maybe you do).
The kind of film Broomfield + Churchill made is an intense compression of three months worth of footage, day-in / day-out.
They made deep relationships with many people.
They followed them around for weeks.
They filmed everything.
And in the end, the very best of the very best footage is chosen.
That's usually how long it takes: about 3 months of daily commitment.