To mushroom hunt is to discern the relationships in the forest, uncovering how tree roots connect to the minutiae of life coursing beneath the soil or how canopy cover relates to moisture in the climate, which produces pockets of decomposition throughout the forest floor. All of these pieces must come together to produce a mushroom—and a good mushroom hunter reads the landscape’s clues in order to find what’s hidden underground.
The process of documentary filmmaking is not unlike navigating the forest ecology to find mushrooms. Documentary is about a search for a story produced from unexpected configurations. Filmmakers survey the cluttered social, political and economic landscapes to find pathways into people’s lives. Documentarians look beneath the surface of the proverbial soil to discover complex interconnections. And, from the messiness of the worlds they examine, they cobble together a sense of meaning.