During his keynote at the Toronto International Film Festival’s sixth annual Doc Conference, Michael Moore shared his advice to documentary filmmakers, beginning with the notion that they shouldn’t be called documentarians at all. “We are not documentarians, we are filmmakers,” he told the crowd at the start of his 13-point manifesto.
I think it’s the humor that gets people there. Satire used to be a great way to make a political statement, but a while back the Left lost its sense of humor, and then you weren’t supposed to be funny anymore. When I had my TV show, on the first day in the writer’s room, I said, “Let’s write down the list of all the things that you’re not supposed to be funny about, and then we’re going to do stories that use humor to say the things we want to say about each of those issues.”
So we made a list: the Holocaust, AIDS, child abuse. I know what you’re thinking — let’s make a funny film about child abuse? Seriously? What are you talking about? Well, of course we’re not making a “funny” film about child abuse — but if humor can be used in a devastating fashion to shake people out of their seats and do something, well, it will be worth it. Humor can be devastating. Humor, ridicule, can be a very sharp edged sword to go after those in power, to go after those who are hurting others.
Also this rule… 8. Point your cameras at the cameras:
Show the people why the mainstream media isn’t telling them what is going on. You’ve seen this in my films, where I stop filming whatever it is that’s going on, and I just turn my camera on the press pool. Oh, that is a pathetic sight, isn’t it? They are all lined up with their microphones like the guy in “Bowling for Columbine” who is at the funeral of a 6-year-old, and he’s trying to fix his hair out in front of the funeral home and he’s yelling at the producer through the earpiece, and all of a sudden he realizes he’s going live and, bam — it’s showtime! It really shows you how little they truly care, and how little REAL information you’re getting about the issue.