A small piece from a great conversation between great film makers on the topic of documentary. Take your time as its quite a lengthy piece but it has great insights and stories about getting films made and more importantly getting them out!
This interest has really brought to the fore what people expect of documentary. And it’s triggered a conversation that I’ve been having more and more, and that I believe we’re going to have today: What is it that we expect from a documentary and of documentarians? What do we think that is? What a great place this is now to ask these four different people to think about that with us: Julia Bacha, who edited Control Room, Jeff Gibbs, producer and composer of Fahrenheit 9/11, Robert Greenwald, the director and producer of Outfoxed, Morgan Spurlock, the director of Super Size Me.
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Excerpt from article regrading the trend of the Political Documentary. Focused on the success of Micheal Moore, the article touches on the trend of this genre. Although written a couple of years ago it gives some statistics and views that may keep you inspired to make that movie that pisses off “The Man”!
Given its reception, “Fahrenheit” will redefine further the unwritten rules about the boxoffice potential of nonfiction films that long have governed documentaries. But bucking the system is nothing if not expected from Moore, who drew fire from conservatives in March 2003 for blasting President Bush during his Oscar acceptance speech for “Bowling for Columbine.” Some distribution executives say “Bowling,” formerly the highest-grossing nonfiction film with a $21.2 million domestic boxoffice take, paved the way for the politically themed docus now flooding theaters.
“Maybe ‘Bowling for Columbine’ started it, but I think filmmakers are making films that are meant to make a political statement,” Roadside co-president Howard Cohen says. “I think (Moore) may have started a trend where people believe that if you have a point of view, you can make a documentary and air the argument — (and) if you make it in a way that also includes entertainment, you may even get further.”
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An excerpt of an interview with BBC’s Storyville Editor Nick Fraser. I have attached a link to the full interview and also to the top 50 Documentary earners.Nick is an insightful exec and has introduced many new directors onto the documentary scene. Always looking for something fresh and entertaining he was part of the Why? Democracy series and many other very successful documentaries.
He also has been to South Africa a couple of times and loves Swazi Land.
BBC Four: Is this explosion of documentaries that are getting into cinemas a trend you think will continue, and is it something that the BBC and Storyville can be part of?
Nick Fraser: Opinion is divided over whether this is a blip in popular entertainment or something that is likely to continue. I’m cautiously saying that it’s a long-term trend. Like I said, it started in America. Documentaries are shown in European cinemas, but they are heavily subsidised and, with some exceptions, they haven’t got large audiences. The breakthroughs come with films like Michael Moore’s, which have started to perform very well outside America.
You’re starting to find more and more people interested in the possibility of showing documentaries in cinemas. I don’t think you’ll necessarily have as many high-scorers in American cinemas as there have been this year, but I think you can expect a more steady flow of more moderate successes.
Instead of taking $60 or $120 million they may take $10 or $15 million, or even over $5 million. In Britain it’s slower, but you’re already starting to see cinema chains getting used to the fact that among all the homogenised offerings in the multiplex it’s good to have a documentary here and there. And the documentaries can be quite odd because that’s what people like to go and see.
As far as the BBC goes, I think the BBC has always been a patron of documentaries. It commissions its own documentaries and has a huge archive of its past successes. I think the BBC should not only come to terms with this development but embrace it and encourage the production of ambitious documentaries that go first into cinemas, or indeed are shown in cinemas at the same time as they appear on the BBC. It seems to me that the BBC is prepared to do this and I’m very happy about that.
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