Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Errol Morris Received Interview Tips from Harvey Weinstein


It seems the latest addition to UPM's Conversations with Filmmakers Series wasn't always a great interview subject. Apparently there was a time when Errol Morris needed some encouragement and advice on how to talk about himself and his films. Luckily for us he eventually figured it out. Readers can view the progress for themselves  by picking up a copy of Errol Morris: Interviews.

This story and letter comes from the blog Letters of Note:

Studio head Harvey Weinstein sent this fantastically blunt letter to Errol Morris in 1988, following the director's recent promotional interview for The Thin Blue Line. Morris' documentary eventually went on to win multiple awards and much acclaim, and the subsequent exoneration of the movie's 'star' earned Miramax - Weinstein's company - invaluable publicity, but at the time it seems the producer was less than pleased with Morris' efforts when it came to selling the concept to audiences.

A truly entertaining letter to read but no doubt an infuriating one to receive.


Transcript follows after the jump:

MIRAMAX FILMS

August 23, 1988

Errol Morris
c/o The Mondrian Hotel
8440 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Errol:

Heard your NPR interview and you were boring. You couldn't have dragged me to see THE THIN BLUE LINE if my life depended on it.

It's time you start being a performer and understand the media.

Let's rehearse:

Q: What is this movie about?

A: It's a mystery that traces an injustice. It's scarier than NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. It's like a trip to the Twilight Zone. People have compared it to IN COLD BLOOD with humor.

Speak in short one sentence answers and don't go on with all the legalese. Talk about the movie as a movie and the effect it will have on the audience from an emotional point of view.

If you continue to be boring, I will hire an actor in New York to pretend that he's Errol Morris. If you have any casting suggestions, I'd appreciate that.

Keep it short and keep selling it because that's what's going to work for you, your career and the film.

Congratulations on all your good reviews. Let's make sure the movie is as successful.

Best Regards,

(Signed)

Harvey Weinstein

It would appear that this  problem  was worked out over time. Morris comes across as humorous and irreverent in this interview collection. Errol Morris: Interviews is now available from UPM.

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