Documentaries in the Arts
Created by Peter Segnitz


Hollyhock: Robert Genn and Sara Genn


Renato Muccillo: Learning Landscapes


Robert Genn: Painting as Tribute


Painter Laura Harris


David Langevin: Tree Portraiture


The Muralists: Mike Svob & Alan Wylie




Book trailer for "Color Creates Light: Studies with Hans Hofmann" (Tina Dickey, 2011, Trillistar Books)


One-minute sketches
(done with a point-and-shoot)


Bev Binfet


Bill Boyd


A niche of a niche of the publishing world was my terrain for a long time. The cardinal rule: Respect the reader's time. Do this by working hard to find the narrative path, and then stay on it.

This principle travels well. That's not to say its application to video making is always easy or successful. I do my best.

Contact Peter Segnitz

photo by Ryan Lloyd


Q: Are these FAQs genuine?
A: Not really, but they help cover some ground with a touch of wry and a little less dry.

Q: Your production values need lots of work. Pros must grimace. Why this website when you're such a greenhorn?
A: For ages I've been importuning a dear friend to leave the 20th century at peace and to germinate an online presence for the 21st. Something, anything, beyond his solitary email address. His vocation needs it. "Start with a sort of digital business card and let it grow," says I, sagely. Recently, I looked into a mirror.

Q: So what are you going to do about those production values?
A: Shed the fear of gear. Seek the advice of people who've been there. Shed the fear of looking stupid when asking them questions. Get in the field as often as possible. Actually read instruction manuals.

Q: Was there a particular spark for you?
A: Yes. It was a primitive, diminutive, tongue-in-cheek Christmas video I assembled on a whim for a couple of toddlers in the family. The "characters" included a small ceramic Santa and the "set" was the usual quaint holiday stuff. Grown-ups enjoyed the video even more than the kids did. The spark was the discovery of what FUN this was.

Q: You've said your strongest affinity is to the short-form natural documentary. What does "natural" mean?
A: It means no narration. Discarding the overt omniscient voice helps to bridge the divide between audience and subject. The hope is to achieve some degree of intimacy. The story emerges, if it emerges at all, purely from the subject's own words and actions. This seems natural to me. The idea was around for ages before the camera was invented. It's a good one.

Q: But the Painting as Tribute piece IS narrated, which seems a little at odds with what you're saying.
A: The artist is still speaking from his own heart, establishing a bond with his audience. That's what it's all about. Even if that form isn't natural in the purest sense, it's still well worth exploring.

Q: What's your plan?
A: Plan? Hmmm ... to stay true and always to perform a function of some kind. Aesthetics alone are not interesting to me. There's got to be a kernel of utilitarianism seeding each project. Everybody knows what a light bulb is for. Like that.

Q: The world is drowning in a rising multi-media ocean of its own making. Who needs more video?
A: I think there's room for what I do.

Q: So far your subjects have been professional artists. Will you explore other subjects and stories as well?
A: The artists are people I've met through my wife's art gallery and have come to call friends. There seem to be limitless possibilities within this fascinating group. Landscape painter Renato Muccillo (a recent subject) has said there's a single square-kilometer patch of Pitt Meadows so profoundly inspirational to him that he could make a whole career out of it. I feel much the same way about the gallery and its artists. But the world is a big place with lots going on, so let's see what happens. It's tabula rasa.

Q: The proverbial blank slate.
A: Right. What a magical circumstance for a middle-aged guy to find himself in. It wouldn't be possible without my endlessly patient mate-for-life Dennie. She's always had faith in me, even when I didn't.

Q: Any words of wisdom?
A: Keep junk food to a minimum. It's true what they say about an apple a day. And realize that if something is holding you back, maybe it's your own hand doing the gripping. Let go and see what happens.

Q: Is that from a Hallmark card?
A: Not that I'm aware of, but I suppose it could be. Sigh. Maybe Hallmark can send me royalties. That would be nice.