An Hour with Errol (part 2)
Written by Dave Avdoian | Posted by: Anonymous
The Search for Truth
"Well Im not interested in accuracy. Or am I? I dont know.
There is no simple solution to the Cartesian riddle of whats out there: that somehow you can just look at a person and just tell whether theyre lying or truth-telling. And anybody who says that there is, I believe, is self-deceived or lying themselves.
I mean, theres an investigation involved: theres reading the stuff, theres talking to people, there is, if you like, an empirical process of trying to learn about the world, learn about the context of the remark and a way of judging its truthfulness.
I dont think you ever know with 100% certainty about stuff. But you always try at least. I believe people should always try to learn more about evidence. Theres this remarkable passage — I dont know if youre familiar with Janet Malcolms work, she writes for the "New Yorker" — you know, this sort of postmodern idea that there really is no truth, that we all subjectively interpret the world to our own ends and our own image. Ive never quite liked that idea. I think that theres all kinds of obstacles to finding the truth: self-deception, self-interest, and so on and so forth. But those are not insuperable obstacles. It just means that you try harder to look beyond those kinds of things to try to find some deeper hidden reality.
I believe in truth.
Until fairly recently no one in the commercial business ever realized I could interview people, which I think is absurd. Its like I have this separate career thats really independent of what I do as a documentary filmmaker.
Ive been fortunate because I get higher-end commercials, and I get to pick and choose among them. I get to turn down a lot of work. Im offered now a lot of work, more than I can do. So I try to pick things where theres some chance that I can, first of all make them good, second of all make them into something that interests me. And occasionally Ive been successful.
I mean commercials have given me a certain liberty, a freedom that I would otherwise not have. Im not constrained to make money off of my movies. My income really does come from my commercial work.
My entire series ["First Person"] is being done for a budget of a couple commercials.
Loyalty to the Subject
It depends on the subject. If I dont like them Im certainly not loyal to them. [Laughter.]
I mean, there are always people that ask me not to do this or not to do that, and I usually respect their wishes. I just think that it makes very little sense to really impose something on somebody.
Very often Ive said to people, "You know, if you dont want me to use it I wont use it." Most people have liked what Ive done. I mean, Ive had a pretty high success ratio.
Im not out to get people. Thats not to say I couldnt do things that would make people unhappy. I mean, obviously I could.
Ive made friends with Stephen Hawking [physicist and subject of 1992s "A Brief History of Time"] and his wife Elaine. Theyre friends of me and my wife. We see them fairly often. I like Hawking. I admire Hawking.
Do I see [Fred] Leuchter [the subject of 1999s "Mr. Death" and noted Holocaust denier] all the time? No. Do I like Leuchter? Kind of, I do. But Im appalled by him. Probably more than I like him. And do I wanna just "hang" with Leuchter? No. [Laughter].
Im planning to make another [fictional film] this year.
I think part of what turned into a nightmare on this one [fictional] film that I made is that it was crazy to think that I was going to be able to make a Hollywood movie with Hollywood people and make the kind of movie that I wanted to make. It was one of those classic stories where you think you can have some control over whats happening, and in the end you end up with no control.
I have learned one thing from that experience: that I have no desire to work in Hollywood. I would be happy to take their money, but the idea of going out and pitching stories in Hollywood — Id rather be eviscerated by the Iroquois.
Also read Part One of this interview.