Ten things you need to know about Errol Morris

We bring you the facts about the director of THE UNKNOWN KNOWN

Documentary filmmaker Errol Morris’s latest film, THE UNKNOWN KNOWN, allows former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld to speak frankly and openly about his political career. Known for his Film Noir-esque documentaries, we decided to find out a little more about Morris.

Morris has described himself as a ‘detective director’, and he did, indeed, work as a private eye in the early 1980s.
… That explains a lot about Errol’s filmmaking style.

In an effort to encourage his friend an colleague to finish his project, Werner Herzog promised that he would eat his shoe if Morris ever completed GATES OF HEAVEN, and he actually made good on his promise at the movie’s premiere.
… Les Blank’s short documentary WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE shows the whole story.

In 2002, Morris directed a series of commercials for Apple Computer’s Switch campaign.
… One of the ads in the series, starring a 15 year old girl named Ellen Feiss, became a cult hit and was extensively parodied online,

Morris has mainly directed both feature length and short documentaries over his career, but he has also directed segments of the 75th and the 79th Academy Awards.
… Interestingly, Morris was hired for this job due to his credited work in commercials, not his work as a documentary filmmaker.

Errol Morris’s 2008 film STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE focused on the allegations of abuse and torture of suspected terrorists at the hands of US forces at the Abu Ghraib prison, a theme that recurs in THE UNKNOWN KNOWN.
… STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE was also the first documentary film to be nominated for the Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival.

THE THIN BLUE LINE, Morris’s documentary about the corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas, led to Randall Adams,who had been wrongfully imprisoned for murder having his case overturned.
… The film was originally going to be a documentary about a prosecution psychiatrist known as Doctor Death, who had testified in more than 100 trials that resulted in death sentences. When Morris met Adams however, he became convinced that Adams was innocent.

THE FOG OF WAR, Morris’s documentary about Robert S. McNamara, began life as part of Morris’s PBS series FIRST PERSON. McNamara initially agreed to just one interview that was to last an hour.
… The interview lasted eight hours and McNamara stayed for a second day of interviewing. He also returned months later, for two more days of interviews. Morris found himself with more than enough material for a feature-length documentary.

Morris’s documentaries helped spur a rebirth of non-fiction film in the 80s & garnered wide critical success. However, Morris was never acknowledged at the Oscars, until he won Best Documentary in 2003 for the FOG OF WAR.
… In an odd twist of fate, Morris was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his work on the Oscars TV broadcast in 2002.

Errol Morris invented a device called the Interrotron that he uses to interview his subjects.
… The device is two cameras, one on Morris and one on the interviewee. Each sees the other’s images staring directly into the lens, to give the audience the appearance the subject is talking directly to them.

Morris made his narrative film debut in 1991 with THE DARK WIND. Morris did not finish the film due to creative differences with Robert Redford, and the film went straight to video.
… Morris’s second narrative film, HOLLAND, MICHIGAN starring Naomi Watts and Bryan Cranston, is due for release in 2015.

THE UNKNOWN KNOWN is in Irish cinemas from March 21st.

Words: Brogen Hayes