“But the idea of particularly white filmmakers going to a community, extracting a story and then profiting off of it even if they're not profiting by money they're profiting by their reputation by whatever,” Staton said.
Staton believes the filmmakers of "The Commons" have a blindspot due to their "privileged identity" because the film portrayed students in an unorganized manner, but did not include how students are having conversations with administration and faculty leaders about the Confederate statue.
Staton said "The Commons" claims students are unable to have civil discourse and effectively organize and the film did not give enough context of what fully happened on campus.
Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky quickly released a statement apologizing for any anguish caused to people included in their film. They also apologized for calling "Silence Sam," the documentary Staton and other students worked on, a student film instead of a film.
“Everything in 'The Commons' that we filmed was part of a protest action,” said Galinsky and Hawley in an email to the Daily Tar Heel. “We were concerned about the idea that the protesters be represented fairly and accurately and feel that we did so.”
"The Commons" attempts to give an objective observational point of view of the protests that happened on campus. However, Staton said since they can distance themselves from the story and not have an emotional or spiritual connection to it, they weren't able to gather necessary input from the community.
Galinsky and Hawley said they reached out to activists and exchanged emails with professor Ligaiya Romero, the faculty supervisor and executive producer of "Silence Sam" and that the feedback was positive. They said looking back, they had some communication issues, but they worked to be as transparent as possible with everyone they showed in their clips and final film.
Galinsky and Hawley also responded to Staton's complaint that activists were filmed without their consent.
Galinsky and Hawley said in an email to The Daily Tar Heel that while they are not activist filmmakers, they believed the statue needed to come down and hoped their work would amplify the protest's message.
“There has never been the expectation that people protesting in public need to give consent to be filmed. This is a discussion that has only just begun within activist and academic circles," they said in the email.