Wednesday, April 13, 2005  

The Craft of Writing the Creative Documentary

(via Creative Screenwriting Magazine )

There's a new type of documentary creature roaming the landscape: the creative documentary, a form that encompasses everything from Super Size Me to Riding Giants to Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. Catherine Clinch talked to those filmmakers and more to find out what you need to know about this new way of looking at the truth. Here's Monster's co-director, Joe Berlinger, talking what how he and partner Bruce Sinofsky were thinking about while filming Metallica:

"When you set out to make a cinéma vérité film," warns Berlinger, "you never know where it's going to take you. We knew we'd have the recording of the album to bring some structure to the film -- without some type of loose structural possibilities, we might have been hesitant to start shooting." Then, serendipity blessed the filmmakers with a much greater subject than they had signed on for. When the filmmakers obtained a guarantee of complete access to the band's group therapy sessions with [Phil] Towle, Berlinger realized they had material for a great documentary. "Seeing Lars, James and Kirk interacting in those sessions gave us our first inklings that we might something really special on our hands."

It was only after compiling 1,600 hours of footage that the filmmakers realized the new subject matter raised on entirely new issue -- how do you service your target market while protecting your artistic integrity? "When we started this project, we figured we were making something that wouldn't really appeal to anyone but Metallica fans," Berlinger explains. "As things unfolded, and we found ourselves in these really intense therapy sessions and emotional moments, we became concerned that the people who might really object to it would be Metallica fans. The film focuses so much on interpersonal relationships and self- examination. Would the fans, who look up to these guys so much, really want to see their heroes as real people with real struggles, both personally and creatively, rather than their Monsters of Rock stage personas?"