“Seeing Through the Fence” is not intended to be an average, run-of-the-mill documentary about the ins and outs of meat consumption.
The maker of the film, which was screened Friday at the Marshall Student Center by members of the Students Protecting the Environment and Animals with Knowledge (SPEAK), tried to go a different route to portray society’s relationship with food and how people feel about the subject across the U.S. and Greece.
Filmmaker Eleni Vlachos said she wants people to see that it’s not always about taking sides when it comes to meat consumption.
“I think it’s important for people to know they have a choice with each meal. It’s not about labeling people a vegan or not,” she said.
In the film, Vlachos is followed while she interviews random subjects, as well as her Greek family members, and she said there were about 10 common responses as to why individuals eat meat.
“I thought it’d be interesting to show the people I interviewed speaking about it rather than me,” she said.
Some of the reasons, she said, ranged from traditions and lifestyle to taste and protein needs. The reason she wanted to find this out was to present the issue in a less traditional way without the kind of activism found in some animal rights organizations.
“I think that protests are a healthy way to achieve some change in some cases but I felt like there wasn’t a two-way dialogue going on,” said Vlachos, who doesn’t eat meat. “When I became vegan, I learned a little more about the industry.”
Vlachos said one of the most memorable interviews happened to be with a former slaughterhouse worker because the nature of the questions in the documentary, mixed with his ethical standpoint on meat, made for an engaging response.
Creating the documentary spanned a couple of years. Vlachos didn’t use fancy equipment or state-of-the-art lighting. According to the film’s bio on porchlifeproductions.com, she used a Canon Mini DV camcorder to film the entire thing.
“We were fortunate enough to have (Vlachos) come and explain the film,” said SPEAK President Candice Bailey.
Bailey said more than 30 people attended between two screenings – most of whom were new to SPEAK or just interested to hear Vlachos talk about the documentary. She’s done other documentaries, including one on drumming.
In 2005, Vlachos, a drummer, and her husband decided to ditch Durham, N.C., where they live when they aren’t touring. They played shows while touring and screening the film with the rock band, “Beloved Binge.”
She showed her love of drumming through her 2008 documentary called “Backpack Drumset,” which is can be found on imdb.com, The documentary followed the creation of a backpack drum set and live performance using the instrument.
Aside from filmmaking, Vlachos, who graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in English, also cooks and shares vegan recipes on her blog, bingecafe.blogspot.com.