Covid Confessions, an original episodic documentary series created by filmmaker and journalist Alec Fischer through Fischr Media, focuses on the experiences of individual workers within industries impacted by the pandemic in the Twin Cities region and throughout the State of Minnesota. Each episode includes perspectives from a minimum of 4 workers in a specific industry, and weaves individual stories into a compilation-based narrative running between 6 and 16 minutes long. More than 150 people across 25 unique industries (planned 25+ episodes) have been interviewed over the last six months for the series, totaling more than 125 hours of interview footage. The main purpose of this series was to educate folks external to each industry on the struggles and experiences of the workers within each industry. The secondary purposes were to record lived experiences of people during the pandemic in a way that would build a collection of historic first-person references to reflect on in the future, and to create an avenue of healing and processing for industry professionals who saw themselves represented in the episodes.
As an independent journalist and filmmaker, Fischer created this series as a team of one. Utilizing a total budget under $10,000, he was able to research, produce, direct, film, and edit the series using Covid-19 safety measures and government-approved safety protocol, all within the context of the pandemic.
Topics and themes intentionally explored throughout the series include lack of access to resources, mistreatment of patients by medical staff, at-risk communities being ignored or targeted (including queer, BIPOC, and other minority populations), personal resilience, mental health struggles, government interference (or lack of government interference), impact of mass misinformation, capitalism as a construct, immigrant communities being left behind with pandemic relief, unemployment issues, the threat of homelessness, and overwhelming feelings of isolation caused by the quarantine. Primary themes of trauma bonding and comradery through isolation appear in almost every episode.
From the inception of this series, Fischer knew that he wanted to create a visual atmosphere that was reminiscent of a confessional or “interrogation” type of setting for each subject. This decision was not made to make the interviewee feel uncomfortable – it was instead designed to make the viewer feel like they were intimately alone with each subject in the room, devoid of any distractions. Based on this aesthetic design, the only focus you’d be able to have would be on the subject’s story. It is meant to cultivate empathy between the subject and viewer in a faster way than traditional methods of filmmaking and traditional methods of journalism/interviewing, as it should feel like you are listening to a private conversation with these subjects instead of watching an interview.
Recording lived experiences of people during the pandemic will be key to building a collection of historic references for us to use in the future, and for our country and world to collectively reflect and heal from this shared global trauma. This series has allowed audiences and communities within Minnesota and beyond to start that important journey.