Meet the Experts Documentary roundtable: ‘Aly Raisman: Darkness to Light,’ ‘Dear…,’ ‘Fauci,’ ‘LuLaRich’ [Exclusive Video Interview]

There is no shortage of documentaries to enjoy on television these days and the Emmy races for non-fiction categories are poised to reflect that. The creative forces behind four of those documentaries and series joined our recent Meet the Experts panel that covered subjects that included chronicling survivors of sexual abuse, celebrities reading letters from people whose lives were changed by them, the career of America’s top infectious disease doctor and a multi-level marketing company that specialized in women’s leggings.

In our roundtable conversation, we hear what the directors and producers behind these projects got them interested in making non-fiction material and the documentaries that leave them feeling good. Gold Derby recently discussed this and more with Aly Raisman (“Ally Raisman: Darkness to Light”), Donny Jackson (“Dear…”), John Hoffman and Janet Tobias (“Fauci”) and Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason (“LuLaRich”).

You can watch the television documentary group panel above with the people behind these four projects. Click on each person’s name above to be taken to their individual interview.

When it came to the works that made these people want to explore making non-fiction films and television shows, the assembled group referenced a lot works that would be considered the greatest of all time. Tobias referenced Steve James’ “Hoop Dreams.” “I grew up in Indiana and I saw ‘Hoop Dreams’ and magic. The intimacy in getting to know people, the story, the caring at the end desperately about them.” Jackson singled out Errol Morris’ “The Thin Blue Line.” “It was realizing how dramatic you can make a documentary in the same way that you can make a scripted film.” Furst chose “The Salesman” which centers on a group of door-to-door Bible sellers. “When I saw what the Maysles had done with that, and really all of their work early as a filmmaker in my teens, I said that this is really amazing. It’s as powerful as a scripted film.”

When discussing documentaries that left them feeling really good, the answers got a bit more interesting with Jackson highlighting “Tiger King.” “Tiger King is crazy but it’s still giving you an amazing glimpse at humanity…and to be able to do that and still not go off the rails where you stopped taking it seriously as a document of human behavior is pretty miraculous.” Hoffman mentioned “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” as one that left him with a positive feeling. “It was just such an immersion into a world that sounds so intriguing.”

Furst mentioned the work of David Attenborough, which Raisman enthusiastically seconded. “I think that David Attenborough does a really incredible job of showing the beauty of the planet and the animals, but also a really important call to action that we all need to wake up, take care of our planet and not take it for granted.” Nason chose “Paris is Burning.” She singled that one out “because it shows the resilience of being creative and how that can save someone’s life in a lot of ways.”

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