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Posts Tagged ‘Errol Morris

Can you tell the truth if your form is a liar?

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Herzog & Morris & Searching for Sugar Man

The politburo of Kirkistan recently made its way through two documentaries. One paved the way to fully appreciate the other.


In Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary, Director Pepita Ferrari set documentarians Errol Morris, Werner Herzog and others in front of the camera to show and tell how their work is entirely biased toward telling their story.

Why would anyone expect otherwise?

Except there is something about the documentary form that shouts “objective”—which turns out to be a profound misdirect. Some documentarians are not above setting up and staging shots in their passion for telling their story. This should surprise no one. And it is neither wrong nor a misrepresentation—depending on how the documentary is billed. As always: caveat emptor. And this: sometimes the story is true though not all the parts actually happened. Fiction writers lead with this all the time (the preface to Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried comes to mind).05302013-MV5BMjA5Nzc2NDUyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjQwMjc5Nw@@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_

Ferrari’s film was a perfect set-up for Searching for Sugar Man. This is an unbelievable tale of a washed out 70’s era Motor City singer/songwriter who helped foment revolution in South Africa—but who never knew it. This film exhibits breathtaking storytelling, with the paradox gripping you from the first scenes. It’s also a history lesson in how apartheid fell. I won’t give away the end except to say it is one of the sweetest stories I’ve heard in a long time.

How about taking in a documentary this weekend?


Written by kirkistan

May 30, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Getting Voice Right

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Speaking for Someone Else is Always a Collaboration

Speaking in someone else’s voice is not really possible, though copywriters are often called on to do just this. The process—when done well—is more like hearing the client’s messages and collaborating to expand and deepen those messages. If the goal was just getting the words right and getting the message out clearly, strong editing would suffice. But the strategic copywriter often contributes substantive content. Helping the original ideas along by serving as a conversation partner to the client, to help them process through the message and its ramifications. The resulting content can prove stronger than the original content, though the danger is that it can sound like a committee wrote it. But a strong copywriter owns the process and follows through with a singular voice.

A singular, compelling voice.

These old Miller High Life commercials help make that point. These were filmed in the 90’s, directed by Errol Morris through Wieden+Kennedy. The retro male voice is just over the edge to make you laugh, but there is a bit of truth in the way the Americana is presented. The voice-over is perfect—and a perfect throw-back to 1950s and 1960s. That’s where Miller wanted the target audience to dwell for 30 seconds—with that slight whiff of what a man once was. Or at least what the Miller/Wieden+Kennedy collaboration thought might produce spending behaviors. And they succeeded: throughout the set there is the slightest hint of something you sorta remember—something your dad’s friends said. Or maybe your grandfather’s friends.

You’ll find a bunch of Errol Morris-directed Miller commercials here, but “Broken Window” (below) does a good job of capturing our grown up fear of the Other.


Image Credit: via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

May 21, 2012 at 5:00 am

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