by Kathy Shwiff.
Michael Moore’s success as a documentary film maker has made his job more difficult because more people refuse to talk to him on camera, he said Sunday afternoon at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
“They’re afraid to talk to me, so I have to send in my production assistants to do interviews,” he told actress Susan Sarandon, who interviewed him before taking questions from the audience.
Moore, whose 2004 film “Fahrenheit 9/11? is the highest-grossing documentary, said documentaries should have a point of view but “I always think it’s best to hear the other side.” However, on some issues, there are not even two sides, he said, pointing out that a film about slavery need not present arguments in favor of the practice.
Moore advised aspiring film makers to make the best movie they can—one that people would be willing to buy tickets for at a theater—then enter it in film festivals, saying, “Usually, the cream rises to the top.” Warner Bros. bought his first film, “Roger and Me,” in 1989 after it was shown at the New York Film Festival.
He also recommended that people make short films and put them on the Internet. “Worse things have gone viral,” he added.
Sarandon noted that the definition of a documentary has blurred as film makers use re-enactments and other techniques to make their points. But such techniques can undercut the impact of a film. “One false move, then you disregard the entire thing,” she said.
Moore described documentary film-making as the opposite of making a “fiction” movie because “you write it after you shoot it.” Also, “we have to get this on the first take because these aren’t actors,” he said.
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