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Scott Witthaus
OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 14, 2016 at 4:04:56 pm

Careful how you edit: http://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/article_8ceda5d1-2e15-52e5-aed7-638b4...

Scott Witthaus
Senior Editor/Post Production Supervisor
1708 Inc./Editorial
Professor, VCU Brandcenter


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David Mathis
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 14, 2016 at 4:11:07 pm

Is it me or is this nation lawsuit happy?


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Warren Eig
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 12:34:11 am

[David Mathis] "Is it me or is this nation lawsuit happy?"

Say that again and I'll sue you ;)

Warren Eig
O 310-470-0905


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David Roth Weiss
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 14, 2016 at 4:48:25 pm

This is exactly why E&O insurance is required. It is incumbent on the plaintiffs to prove they've lost business, which is doubtful in this case, so the insurance company will just settle ASAP.

There are very few deep pockets in the world of documentary producers, so suing the producer and her production company will probably be fruitless. My guess would be that the E&O insurance company will pay the other side $20,000 to go away, and the plaintiff's lawyer will quickly grab his or her 33% and celebrate over a lobster dinner before filing as many similar suits as possible over the next days, weeks, and months.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Noah Kadner
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 14, 2016 at 6:12:23 pm

To be honest- that does sound intentionally misleading. But we all know only the lawyers actually benefit in these things.

Noah

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Tim Wilson
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 14, 2016 at 6:21:23 pm

[David Roth Weiss] "This is exactly why E&O insurance is required. It is incumbent on the plaintiffs to prove they've lost business, which is doubtful in this case, so the insurance company will just settle ASAP. "

A million times yes to E&O. When I'm feeling harsh, I'd say something like "If you say you can't afford E&O insurance, then you can't afford to be in this business." When I'm feeling less harsh, I'd still say, "Don't be an idiot. Get the insurance."

But the suit isn't about an error or an omission. It claims defamatory intent. Loss of income isn't at stake. It's loss of face. They say the producers used "deceptive editing methods" to make them -- and I love this language -- "appear stumped."

Is it illegal to make someone appear stumped when they in fact had an answer at the ready? In this case, there's absolutely no funding at stake, no limitation on the activists' ability to pursue their activism, so it's nothing more than "they hurt our feelings."


[Noah Kadner] "But we all know only the lawyers actually benefit in these things."

Not necessarily. My assumption is that the plaintiffs are using the suit and the attending quivering outrage over "the media" to whip their fundraising to a stiff-peaked meringue. They may be able to make MORE money if it DOES get dismissed.

"They made us look stumped" is ultimately a pretty pathetic "injury", so it could in fact easily get thrown out. But it's hard to overstate how much people hate "the media", so who knows. The chance to make "the media" accountable for ANYTHING might be enough to motivate graduating the rolling of eyes to the rolling of heads.

The specific "injury" is trivial enough to be almost beneath the threshold of measurability, but it's certainly prudent for anyone working in a field remotely along these lines to remember that outrage is always cocked and ready to fire. The guiding principle for editors may be summarized as, "Don't try to make the other guy look as venal as you THINK he is."

btw, the footage that got cut in to make these guys look stumped was recorded while the camera was rolling on room tone. I almost want to see this go to court just to establish a legal precedent with "room tone" in the official record. Maybe have a module in film school on the ethics of room tone.



btw, my tongue-in-cheek riposte notwithstanding, I do think that the ethics of news magazine-style editing news (which I think this is, more than documentary) is very much worth discussing.

But then slipping into my guise as occassional forum referee (when I'm not being one of the pugilists), a reminder please to avoid couching the ethics of editing in terms of the ethics of one political position or the other. So far so good. :-)


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Michael Gissing
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 12:23:49 am

If the cut was to footage where the participants were sitting waiting for room tone atmos then they certainly have a case although the laws in the US may be substantially different to here.

Do editors manipulate edit timing to further a point of view. Yes of course. Mostly it is totally benign or isn't as intentionally obvious as this case so I think they might have to at the very least change the edit.

I don't think a release form from the participants gives the doco maker the right to blatant distortion or misrepresentation to invoke ridicule. Mostly doco makers aren't worth suing but in this case there might be some of the crew with a bit more than credit card debt.


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Shane Ross
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 1:00:51 am

This might open James O'Keefe up for lawsuits after the Acorn video...or that Planned Parenthood video by Center for Media Progress...as well. LORDY...all sorts of pauses and reactions are added to reality shows that didn't happen at the time. I'm sure someone will sue saying "Chelea's reaction to what what I said in Big Brother didn't happen in the scene. Thus it made me look like a bonehead, and on national TV."

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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David Roth Weiss
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 1:28:30 am

It's very hard to prove anyone suffered anything but hurt feelings... It's kind of a sticks and stones argument, and judges hate getting involved in those. And, as you said Shane, these kinds of creative decisions are done all the time. The brand clearly wasn't hurt by the film, as more guns have been sold in the last 18-months than any time in history, so agreeing to a minor change, and paying the plaintiffs to go away, are still my best guesses on the outcome.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Michael Gissing
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 1:35:36 am

Defamation laws must be different in the USA.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 2:37:56 am

[Shane Ross] "This might open James O'Keefe up for lawsuits after the Acorn video...or that Planned Parenthood video by Center for Media Progress...as well."

You can sue anyone for anything in America, but whether or not is gets traction in court is a different matter. With that being said, O'Keefe was sued and paid $100,000 to settle the case.

[Shane Ross] "LORDY...all sorts of pauses and reactions are added to reality shows that didn't happen at the time. I'm sure someone will sue saying "

Different kettle of fish though. On reality shows the participants sign away everything because producers want to freely exercise 'creative license' and by now it common knowledge that the shows are manipulated into next week. There is no expectation of an accurate portrayal of events in that situation. It's fiction w/amateur improve actors.

I remember when this first came to light a few months ago and I get as pissed thinking about it now as I was then. It's bush league, unprofessional, disingenuous, disrespectful, and harmful to the doc making community as a whole. For docs you cut for time and you cut for clarity but you must remain true to what was shot. Even if how events unfolded doesn't jive with how you had hopped events were going to unfold.

Docs depend on trust from subjects and trust from the viewing audience and when crap like this happens it violates that trust. It just makes it that much harder for all doc filmmakers.

Whenever I meet a producer or director for the first time I layout the ethical boundaries I have and I've threatened to walk away from a project when asked to fabricate things because the fictionalized version would be more 'interesting' than what actually happened. No dice. That's the risk with docs. Sometimes what you are documenting isn't all that compelling.

If you ask the subject a question and they answer it correctly, you don't edit it so it appears they answer it incorrectly because having them be incorrect is better for the 'story' you are wanting to tell. F-that. You have what you have and you work w/in those boundaries. If one finds that difficult and/or too constraining then one probably shouldn't be doing docs.

[David Roth Weiss] "The brand clearly wasn't hurt by the film, as more guns have been sold in the last 18-months than any time in history,"

This wasn't a gunmaker though, it was a gun rights group, so I don't see how gun sales relate. If someone filmed a meet-up of COW users and edited it so we all looked like we didn't know our butts from a hole in the ground the number of seats of FCP X that Apple sells isn't relevant.




-Andrew


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Claude Lyneis
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 5:44:51 am

A documentary without a point of view, hardly seems worth watching. If they can sue over this, what could they do to a Michael Moore documentary? Often the best shots come between shots when the subject relax their guard.


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Andrew Kimery
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 6:36:08 am

[Claude Lyneis] "If they can sue over this, what could they do to a Michael Moore documentary?"

In the US you can sue over anything so the act of suing is rather meaningless when trying to draw conclusions, it's the outcome that matters (settled, dismissed, found in favor of the plaintiff, etc.,). And Moore has been sued many times.

[Claude Lyneis] "A documentary without a point of view, hardly seems worth watching... Often the best shots come between shots when the subject relax their guard."

This isn't subjects relaxing their guard though. In reality the subjects were asked a question and quickly and knowledgeably answered that question. In the documentary the subjects were asked a question and then crickets. Instead of an answer you see a clip of the subjects sitting silently (it's really a clip of room tone being recorded from later on). The implication being that the subjects can't/won't readily answer the question posed to them which is patently false.

If you are manipulating the footage to adhere to your preconceived notions of what 'should' happen as opposed to what really happened then you are making an video editorial and/or a work of fiction, not a documentary. Ex. if you are making a Flat Earth documentary but all of your interviewees say the Earth is round you don't 'fix it in post' and cut their responses up so they all say that the Earth is flat just because it's your point of view that the Earth is flat. Go out and find people that actually say the Earth is flat.


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Oliver Peters
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 2:56:50 pm

I think it's a very simple issue of ethics. A lot of directors like to "shape" the responses to tell the story they want to tell, rather than the one that's actually been told. It's a staple for reality TV, but should be avoided in documentaries. This is separate from whether or not a lawsuit has any merit.

I think it's the BBC that forbids morph cuts or "Frankenbites" with cutaway shots. The point is to accurately represent the statement or not hide an edit when it's made. I personally think that's going a bit too far, because I feel there's a middle ground. I think it's OK to "shape" the answers through the editing process, as long as you stay true to the intent of what was said. Obviously others disagree.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Andrew Kimery
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 4:18:53 pm

[Oliver Peters] "I think it's OK to "shape" the answers through the editing process, as long as you stay true to the intent of what was said. "

Agreed. Cut for time and/or clarity but you have to keep the substance/meaning of the moment/response intact.


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Tim Wilson
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 15, 2016 at 4:54:52 pm

The first thing to note is that this lawsuit isn't about a documentary. It's about a newsmagazine TV interview.

Not to defame TV newsmagzines. That's what I did for the heart of my career in video production, and I loved it with my whole heart.

And while it was documentary-esque in style and intent (science and nature; my model was NOVA in 7-minute segments), I thought of "real" documentarians as novelists, where, at my best, I was an essayist.

This is closer to whatever feeds at the bottom of TV news magazines. Insert your least favorite example here.

The principles of documentaries and news apply of course, but I don't want to overly elevate the majesty of the enterprise in question.


[Andrew Kimery] "[Claude Lyneis] "A documentary without a point of view, hardly seems worth watching... Often the best shots come between shots when the subject relax their guard."

This isn't subjects relaxing their guard though.....Ex. if you are making a Flat Earth documentary but all of your interviewees say the Earth is round you don't 'fix it in post'"



re: objectivity, exactly. My feeling that any documentarian who claims that objectivity even exists, much less that it applies to his or her work needs to be branded with a scarlet "C" for "Charlatan" or "I" for "Idiot" as appropriate, which will then also be supered across the center of every frame of their work.

But, specifically, the subjects had not relaxed at all. They were IMMEDIATELY ready with a reply. It's the whole reason they were there. Footage was ADDED to create the false impression that they were caught off guard.


[Andrew Kimery] "[Claude Lyneis] "If they can sue over this, what could they do to a Michael Moore documentary?"

...And Moore has been sued many times."


Sort of, but not for this kind manipulation.

A typical example is Iraq war veteran Sgt. Peter Damon, who described the combats events that led to the loss of his arms in a TV news account, 16 seconds of which was included in Fahrenheit 9/11.

He sued Moore for $85 million (yes, $85 million for 16 seconds in a 2-hour+ movie) because he felt that the clip's inclusion implied that he (Damon) had cooperated with Moore on an anti-war piece, when Damon had not met Moore, and strongly supported the war.

His $85 million suit was dismissed, because, said the judge, the 16-second excerpt Moore used was unedited and verbatim, and accurately characterized the man, his words, and the events. More details here.

So THAT's the kind of thing Michael tends to get sued for. Not "he misrepresented me" but "he didn't have my permission" and "I don't agree with him and my presence in his picture implies that I do".

I assume that Michael would consider what Katie's editors did to be offensive. There's certainly no precedent for it in either his work as a documentarian OR as a TV newsmagazine guy. His MO is to let the people talk. Very 60 Minutes that way.

(Speaking of which, anybody here but me remember Moore's TV Nation? I loved that thing. Nine episodes and eight episodes in the summers of 1994 and 1995 respectively, offering some genuinely hilarious takes on serious issues way, way ahead of its time. That is, unlike The Daily Show or some such, it was in fact intended primarily as news, with humor simply its style. Both seasons were Emmy-nominated for "Best Informational Series", with the first season winning the Emmy in a tie with Ken Burns' Baseball. Yeah, it had THAT sincerity of intent as information, and that excellence of execution.)




[Oliver Peters] "I think it's OK to "shape" the answers through the editing process, as long as you stay true to the intent of what was said. "

[Andrew Kimery] "Agreed. Cut for time and/or clarity but you have to keep the substance/meaning of the moment/response intact."

Again, there is no allegation of misrepresentation. The allegation is mockery.

Try this as a thought exercise. Imagine a soundbite that's otherwise flawless -- accurate, compelling, tastefully edited, raises no objection from the subject.

Then add a six second clip of people laughing right after it.

Or circus music playing underneath it.

Or cutting in disturbing or offensive footage on either side of the clip.

The words are 100% accurate in every way. Something else got added for a reason that was not to clarify, support, or even contradict what was SAID.

Plaintiffs allege that the editing was to create the false IMPRESSION of their lack of competence, commitment, and focus as spokespeople.

At what point does out-of-context silence turn into mockery? At what point does mockery turn into slander?

Which is to say, at what point does out-of-context silence become slander?


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Claude Lyneis
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 16, 2016 at 12:16:13 am

Seems like a slippery slope to me. All editing is has judgement to it and once in the camera it is not a real depiction. Real is being there in person. The cinema verite movement in the 1950's was all about trying to capture "truth", but that philosophy is still being debated. When I watch documentaries I don't assume too much about truth. Some of the "documentaries" on 911 are impressive, if not totally bogus.

Anyway, this is a great topic for the Cow forum. Leave it to gun wing nuts to sue.


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David Cherniack
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 16, 2016 at 10:49:59 am

[Tim Wilson] "
re: objectivity, exactly. My feeling that any documentarian who claims that objectivity even exists, much less that it applies to his or her work needs to be branded with a scarlet "C" for "Charlatan" or "I" for "Idiot" as appropriate, which will then also be supered across the center of every frame of their work."


As someone who has worked the fields of cinema verite I take exception to this lazy generalization. Not like Tim to be so lax. He must be getting on to drool so.

To be more precise: there is a objective world that exists beyond our subjective experience. But just as a mentally healthy person's experience of it is closer to its reality than a severely deluded person's it's also true that some documentaries are more objective than others.

Michael Moore's last film Where Do We Invade Next cherry picked objective facts and assembled them to create a highly skewed perspective that nevertheless made a reasonably objective point: that America does a lot of things badly compared to other countries in the world...a fact that anyone with any experience of the world knows very well. This cherry picking M. O. is how he works. I think it was in Bowling for Columbine that he walked into an unlocked front door in Toronto to demonstrate how Canadians do not fear their neighbours like Americans do. This caused great hilarity among those millions of us who live in Toronto and routinely lock our doors. The consensus was that woman of the house probably forgot. But the greater truth he was getting at is that Torontonians don't lock up because we fear our neighbours in the same way Americans do. (In fact, we lock up because we are a prudent people founded by Loyalists and counter revolutionaries.) But the point he was speaking to was a more objective truth than the outlier house in the scene. Are his films less objective than Fred Wiseman's? Doesn't Wiseman cherry pick what he chooses to film and then shape it in the editing to portray the essential essence of his subject as a similar end result? Don’t both of them get at some kind of truth that has an objective component? Despite two radically different ways of working do they not get closer to objectivity than the subjective, some would say delusional, ramblings of a Werner Hertzog? Probably. And that's my point: to dismiss all documentary as lacking objectivity is too general a statement. I know you didn't really mean to be so lax, Tim. It was the whiskey. Or the drool.

David
http://AllinOneFilms.com


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Tim Wilson
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:36:41 pm

[David Cherniack] " to dismiss all documentary as lacking objectivity is too general a statement."

We'll have to disagree on this one. Rather than lax, I'm wound tight as a drum on this.

I can put it a different way, to say that there's no such thing as objectivity, anywhere, on any topic.


[David Cherniack] "there is a objective world that exists beyond our subjective experience. "

That's true, and it isn't. Once you pick up a camera, it's not true.

Have you ever seen a picture of Michaelangelo's David's butt? Highly unlikely, but I assure you, he does in fact have a butt. I know this because, subjectively speaking, my mother finds David's penis wholly unimpressive, so on her most recent visit to Florence, she worked her way around to the back to get a picture of his butt, thinking surely it would be more interesting. Having seen the photos she took, I have to agree with her. David's butt is where it's at.

But David himself is wall-to-wall non-objectivity! Michaelangelo was at least honest about that -- not that he needed to be. Audiences knew that, and frequently objected to the overtly political statements it represented. The statue was physically attacked, and it's our good fortune that none of the vandalisms were permanent.

You might say, nope, irrelevant. The statue is the statue. And I'd say, the choices you make about what to show and not to show are relevant, as is your decision to say that the meaning of the sculpture to either its creator or the people who he wanted to see it. That tells me about you, and what you think is and isn't important.

My evaluation of someone who says, "The intent of the artist is irrelevant" is to say, "Ah yes, I understand. The only thing that matters to you about the art is how YOU feel about it. NOW we have a place to start talking in a way that might potentially yield true communication."

Just as sculptors carve away parts of a stone to leave other parts remaining, people holding cameras make choices about what NOT to show. Whatever objectivity there might have been has been carved away to become a work of the imagination.

Editing is even less objective, because it carves away what has already been carved away. There's a reason why many directors describe editorial as the last stage in writing, which goes for documentaries too. Stories are SHAPED.

There's only one reason to make a documentary. One. Because you feel something about something, and you want me to feel something, learn something, do something, or for whatever reason, watch your thing rather than some other thing. There's an entreaty.

None of this is inherently political, but it's no less true. Most of my stuff was science and nature. I've done some stuff with dance. A lot with music. Local history -- and boy howdy, there's NOTHING less objective than history.

But certainly the closer we get to politics, the less useful it is to talk about objectivity, and the more important it is to talk about what motivates filmmaking choices.

The one and ONLY thing I'll concede is that there's a spectrum that documentaries might live along, somewhere between "I want to persuade you" to "I'll let you draw your own conclusion," but the latter, to me, is precisely either delusional or fraudulent. No you're NOT letting my draw my own conclusion from "THE" evidence. You're giving me YOUR carved-away version of the evidence, and subtracting from THAT even having the courage to be honest about YOUR conclusion.

So, perhaps I was being lax. It's not either-or, and there are more than two options. So I'll restate as:

The claims of documentary objectivity can be dismissed as some combination of self-delusion, intentional fraud, cowardice rather than honesty about the conclusions filmmakers have drawn, laziness because they failed to draw one, or general incompetence.

There are probably a few options I'm leaving out, but there may not be anything about filmmaking I believe more strongly. Anyone who hoists the "O" word is to be avoided under every single conceivable circumstance. They're either bad at filmmaking or bad people in general. No exceptions. Ever.

Feel free to disagree. But I ain't lax about it.


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Oliver Peters
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 16, 2016 at 5:47:09 pm

[Tim Wilson] "Editing is even less objective, because it carves away what has already been carved away. There's a reason why many directors describe editorial as the last stage in writing, which goes for documentaries too. Stories are SHAPED."

It's not only that they are shaped, but part of the process is WHICH story to tell and what parts to exclude. Having worked on a few documentaries, there's always the balance of pairing down the options that you get - particularly in the case of interview-driven documentaries. The answers often go off into many interesting tangents, but if you included them all, you'd completely lose the audience. And so the director/writer/producer/editor come to some consensus as to what stays and what gets left on the digital cutting room floor. And not with any preconceived intent (usually), but rather to hold the attention of the audience by telling a good STORY.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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David Cherniack
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 17, 2016 at 12:21:43 am

Hmmm. You seem to have missed my point, as well as my humour.

I was not arguing that there are objective documentaries. I'm in full agreement on that having made more than 60 of them. Perfect objectivity is not possible in any creative pursuit. Nevertheless the point I was making is that some documentaries are more objective than others. By not including that caveat I thought your statement lax. However if you're insisting that they're all equally lacking in objectivity that's a rather extreme position because it equates the filmic ravings of a madman with a Fred Wiseman. In order to do that one is forced to take the view that there's no objective world at all beyond subjective experience. ie there's no objective world to approximate, therefore all renditions are equally valid. But because the vast majority of us do agree that a cloudless daylit sky is more or less blue, among a multitude of other things, I think that position is rather untenable, if not impractical. I can't but think you agree.

PS Having been in Florence two months ago I'd agree with your mother butt I'm not sure what it has to do with anything.

David
http://AllinOneFilms.com


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Tim Wilson
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 17, 2016 at 7:05:02 pm
Last Edited By Tim Wilson on Sep 17, 2016 at 7:29:30 pm

[David Cherniack] "Hmmm. You seem to have missed my point, as well as my humour. "

Not the first time. LOL I'm also, to use another musical metaphor, tightly strung on this, and do indeed tend to over-respond.

And despite the lengthiness of this reply, I think you're right that we agree on most of this.



[David Cherniack] "Nevertheless the point I was making is that some documentaries are more objective than others. By not including that caveat I thought your statement lax. However if you're insisting that they're all equally lacking in objectivity that's a rather extreme position because it equates the filmic ravings of a madman with a Fred Wiseman. "

Hmmm, I'm still not sure about that. I think there are documentaries that are outside polemics (Jump! is a fantastic piece on competitive jump roping, highly recommended), but I think the best documentaries have an advocative intent. A nice contrast with Jump! is Hoop Dreams, which follows the diverging paths of two basketball phenoms. Dives deeply into their lives in a way that's as perspective-laden as can be.

Not that I'm a huge fan of sports documentaries (these are the only two on my list), but they underscore that yes, there are degrees of heat, but that's really it, imo.



[David Cherniack] "butt I'm not sure what it has to do with anything."

I see what you did there!

Yet another way of saying that yes, every perspective is equally unique, equally subjective, and equally distant from objective.

A philosophical distinction as much as anything else, but philosophy is what we're mostly talking about.

Ostensibly, though, we're not talking about documentaries at all in this thread. At least at the outset. :-) We're talking about NEWS. And news is even less objective than documentaries. There's really REALLY no such thing as objective news.

There are however degrees of heat.

I'll give you an example though. Good old Uncle Walter, the paragon of supposed objectivity. No yelling, but NO objectivity. His on-air objection to the Vietnam war turned the tide in anti-war sentiment.

My favorite example though is CBS news' coverage of Woodstock. You can find it on YouTube. The correspondent is standing in front of a garbage pile far higher than his head, stretching out farther than the camera can see. Very calmly, very professional, in the manner of a seasoned veteran who has seen every kind of mayhem first hand and this ain't nothin' compared to that, nevertheless for all practical purposes rants about the death toll, and the endless lawsuits, the strong objections from the (original) locals that forced the last-minute move to a farm that left people sleeping in sewage...on and on and on.

Every word objectively true. Not one single sentence constructed objectively.

(As a fun exercise, check the NBC and ABC coverage, too. Very different styles, virtually no agreement on facts, completely different conclusions.)

I disagree with most newscasters, heck, most people, about something. LOL Maybe even most things. LOL But I do tend to gravitate to the ones that yell less, and everyone tends to gravitate toward news that agrees with them. Because news is never objective.

To my ongoing point about THIS use of news, in the lawsuit that sparked the thread, I keep coming back to the point that the broadcast did not in any way distort what was being said.

The plaintiffs are very clear on this. There was no distortion of their position. Their actual opinions were precisely and fairly laid out in a reasonable manner.

The problem was the cut-in.

If you recall the movie Broadcast News, the entire thing hinged on a cut-in. A single tear rolling down William Hurt's face. The fact is that the interviewer's reverse has become so ingrained in our visual language that we forget what it means. The cut-in is ALWAYS a comment. Even if the comment is only, "I care about what you're saying. Do go on."

Because the news isn't objective. It's subjective. It's the reporter's eye view.

The cut-in that led to the collapse of everything was, unlike the example in the suit here, entirely sympathetic/empathetic. Reporter responds in a human way to a human tragedy. We can all think of a thousand deeply moving examples of this, when reporters choke up, or even break down.

This one was phony, though. The tear was manufactured: "Hold on, I've got an idea that will really sell this story -- ima make a single tear roll down my face. I can do this. Watch." The cut-in told a different story than the one that actually happened.

If it was true, there would have been no controversy.

And that's what at issue here. NOT distortion of meaning. Keep coming back to that. The WORDS were accurate. The POSITION was clearly presented in a way that the plaintiffs recognize as valid.

It's a distortion of CONTEXT. The producers added slack-jawed silence that didn't happen there, and only happened at all when the subjects had been led to believe that picture wasn't rolling.

And since context is the only truth I recognize, this becomes undeniably wrong, and ulimately unforgivable. Everyone involved should be fired -- not for not being objective. No such thing. But for trying to tell a story that didn't happen.

NEWS does that. NOT documentaries, not generally.

Madmen rave (although I adore Herzog's non-raving documentaries, especially Encounters at the End of the World and Cave of Forgotten Dreams -- noting his contextual, and I think proper, perspective is that the best science and the best art is created by people who are at best unhinged), but I can't think of a single documentary where someone has successfully made the case that the filmmaker just made shit up in a way that completely reversed what someone SAID.

THAT I think is the straw man, and certainly not reflective of this news lawsuit.

Plaintiffs regularly claim lack of permission, they disagree with the outcome (he used my injury to argue against a war that I support), but neither Michael Moore nor Werner Herzog (assuming that those are among your betes noires, David) manufactured a reality as egregiously as what journalists do every day.

For the same reason my mother and you sought out David's butt. Your perspective is your perspective for whatever reason you choose -- curiosity, fondness of butts, whatever.

No more or less objective than any other position, but stated in a way mercifully free of madness.


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David Cherniack
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 17, 2016 at 11:12:16 pm

[Tim Wilson] "Yet another way of saying that yes, every perspective is equally unique, equally subjective, and equally distant from objective."

Here's where we part ways. It's not my experience that every perspective is equally distant from objective. Some people, and that includes documentary filmmakers, are more delusional than others. Plain and simple.

[Tim Wilson] "
It's a distortion of CONTEXT. The producers added slack-jawed silence that didn't happen there, and only happened at all when the subjects had been led to believe that picture wasn't rolling."


No disagreement there. If indeed the cut-in was taken from a different context it would be completely unethical. The people responsible should be publicly censored and fired. They do not deserve the privilege of working in the media.

As for Mr. Hertzog I'm afraid my opinion of his films is not as high as yours. I find him both pretentious and shallow which is as deadly a combination as there is. But I don't consider Michael Moore a bête noire. He is a comedian and progressive propagandist and because what political views I have are progressive l generally agree with his propaganda. A filmmaker's filmmaker he is not, however, but he does not pretend to be.

[Tim Wilson] "For the same reason my mother and you sought out David's butt. Your perspective is your perspective for whatever reason you choose -- curiosity, fondness of butts, whatever.

No more or less objective than any other position, but stated in a way mercifully free of madness"


I’m sorry to have to report that I didn't seek out the butt of the David. I was just seeking out a different perspective on Michelangelo's brilliance and wandered to the backside. As for the modest penis consider the artist's dilemma: if he makes it too large it would distract from the whole. Small on the other hand makes the whole piece that much more impressive. Unfortunately the artist left no notes, that I'm aware of, on whether he had taken liberties with the size. But we can imagine the chagrin of the model if there was a sculptor's diminuendo.

David
http://AllinOneFilms.com


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Andrew Kimery
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 16, 2016 at 7:22:54 pm

[Tim Wilson] "re: objectivity, exactly. My feeling that any documentarian who claims that objectivity even exists, much less that it applies to his or her work needs to be branded with a scarlet "C" for "Charlatan" or "I" for "Idiot" as appropriate, which will then also be supered across the center of every frame of their work. "

That's a straw man in this scenario, IMO. We aren't talking about the unachievable goal of being totally objective. We are talking about whether it crosses a line to edit a subject's on camera response in a way that completely alters the way the subject answered the question. Example, say I want to make an NLE documentary and one of the people I interview is 'Stan', a well known person in the NLE community:

Me: Do you think Avid has some superior features to FCP X?
Stan: Yes I do. For example, it's great in a multi-editor environment thank's to all the editors being about to work in a single project and the integration it has with the ISIS storage. The trim mode is also great and I love the ScriptSync feature even though you have to jump through some hopes using an older version of Avid in order to get it to work with the latest version of Avid".

That's too long of an answer for my piece (and Stan starts to meander off topic a bit with ScriptSync work arounds towards the end) so I cut it down to the following:

Stan: "Yes I do. For example, it's great in a multi-editor environment //and// the trim mode is also great ".

It's shorter and more to the point, but I didn't change the gist of Stan's answer. Before my edit Stan said he thought Avid had some superior features to X and he lists them. After my edit Stan still says he thought Avid has some superior features to X and he lists them.

But what if in the edit I cut to Stan just standing there, silently for an extended period of time as if he was struggling to find an answer? That's not representative of the gist of Stan's answer at all. And what if when people see the piece they go, "Man, I'd heard of Stan before and thought he knew his stuff, but he was totally clueless in that interview" so fewer people solicit Stan's advice because they don't think he knows what he's talking about? Could that not be seen as injurious to Stan?

I'm not saying I think the lawsuit will win or should win because I don't know all the facts of the case. What I am saying is that the potential for harm certainly exist and that's why slander and libel laws exist.

To stick with my NLE doc example, if I didn't want anyone to say anything nice about Avid I would either edit out those questions and responses entirely and/or I would only interview people that I know wouldn't say anything nice about Avid. I wouldn't take a positive response about Avid and edit it so it became a negative or neutral response about Avid.

I guess I look at this not as objective vs subjective (which is a totally different yet related discussion) but as crossing the line from non-fiction into fiction deceptively presented as non-fiction.

Maybe I'm just more unwilling than most when it comes to blurring lines, fudging facts and/or editing people into doing/saying things they did not do/say. Michael Moore was brought up and, to put it politely, I think he takes far too many liberties in order to create his version of reality so I don't watch his editorials.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 16, 2016 at 8:00:49 pm

As a documentarian and journalist for longer than many readers here have been alive, I completely agree with everything Andrew has written about ethics, and most of what Tim has written, and I would never condone what the producers seemed to have allowed in this particular case. However, as I have written above, from a legal standpoint this is not a big deal, as our court system is not in place to arbitrate ethics, morals, etc. as many think, and on top of that, between provable monetary damages, legal costs, and the estimated payoff of a case like this, we're talking peanuts.

What is more important in this discussion, which no one here has really mentioned, is the nearly complete erosion of journalistic and ethical standards in recent times created by tabloid news and opiion masquerading as journalism, Reality TV masquerading as "reality," and a Reality TV star masquerading as a serious candidate for President of the US, who lies 70% if the time because he knows he can lie faster than he can be fact checked. These are much more serious matters than the tempest in a teapot being debated here, yet they have a serious impact on this case and on ethics in general, because they have completely degraded the line between right and wrong, desensitized the masses to such an extent that ethics are now virtually meaningless in our society.

Bottom line, we can debate ethical matters in journalism and TV all day long, but if society could care less, the courts won't wade in on these matters unless there's BIG money at stake.

David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist & Workflow Consultant
David Weiss Productions
Los Angeles


David is a Creative COW contributing editor and a forum host of the Apple Final Cut Pro forum.


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Martin Curtis
Re: OT: Interesting lawsuit
on Sep 27, 2016 at 6:56:03 pm

It happened to Homer; it can happen to you.







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