“Hitting the beginning and middle and end to follow the emotional arc of a story” is how Bill Hader explains the episode structure of “Documentary Now” as we chat via webcam (watch above) about his Emmy-nominated series. “Sketches can just end. On ‘SNL’ we realized that really easily you could just stop talking and the sketch ends. Just put up an applause sign. You can’t do that on this show.”
Hader was joined by directors Alex Buono and Rhys Thomas to chat about this hit IFC series that satirizes iconic documentary films. For its freshman season, it reaped an Emmy bid for Best Variety Sketch Series. All three, along with co-star Fred Armisen, hail from “Saturday Night Live” and Thomas contrasts the two shows. “The worlds of these stories need to be more fully fledged when you are trying to sell that concept.”
As for the performance styles of the two leading men, Buono reveals, “they are very different which is really fun. There’s a bravery in willing to be conflict averse, like Fred, and there is a bravery in being aggressively conflict oriented, like Bill. They match each other really well.”
Thomas recalls filming the series’ first episode, a mockumentary of ‘Grey Gardens’ called ‘Sandy Passage.’ “While shooting the bloody ending we were trying to set this movie tempo in one single shot. There’s a lot of things to work out. So while that’s happening these guys are doing the Obama thing.”
Hader readily admits, “me and Fred will just keep doing bits forever. We did one about Obama giving a speech about his time in Los Angeles. That is still going. It’s like a thing. Fred will call me up and I’ll answer my phone. He’ll go ‘[in Obama voice] I went down to Pink’s Hotdogs.’ It makes everyone laugh but it’s never stuff that ends up in the episode.”
Is there a documentary they think might be too hard to tackle? Buono concedes, “we’re friends with a really good documentary filmmaker who made an incredible documentary ‘Paradise Lost’ about childhood murder.’” And Hader concurs. “That’s a rough one. Yeah childhood murders. We thought, could we do ‘Paradise Lost?’ Then we saw it again and went ‘no, no, no,!’”
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