How About Documentaries? (GUEST: Neil Berkeley)


We love docs! Neil Berkeley, of Beauty is Embarrassing (2012) and Harmontown (2014) fame, joins Timmie and Ryan to talk about the documentary form. Tune in to hear their take on the subject, and some personal favorite picks!

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I. Intro 

A. Welcome Neil!

B. Beauty is Embarrassing: Style Following Its Subject

C.  Nobody Watches The Same Documentaries

II. Terms & Contradictions [00:11:45]

A.  Let’s Get Our Terms In Sync

  • Why Neil Prefers The Term, “Movie”

B.  How Are Documentaries Consumed?  [00:14:17]

  • Wildly popular on TV
  • Theatrically
  • Streaming/On Demand

C. Conflicting Identity [00:24:10]

  • Having Story in Mind When Shooting

III. Role of the Documentary [00:30:08]

A. Audiences Evolve

B. What Do Audiences Want and Need Today?

C. We Asked Neil What Some of His Favs are:

  • Anvil (2008)
  • Don’t Look Back (1967)
  • The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)
  • The Act of Killing (2013)
  • The Fog of War (2003)
  • Rivers and Tides (2001)

D.  Do They Have Anything In Common? [00:37:00]

E.  Parallels in His Own Work

  • Use of Dan Harmon’s Story Circle

F.  Filmmaking Ethics [00:48:00]

  • “Objectivity”
  • Fair vs. Balanced
  • A Good Story Well Told
  • Neil’s Relationship with Wayne White and Dan Harmon
  • Should a Filmmaker Protect the Audience?
  • Dealing with Dark Story Material [00:60:37]

IV. Some NJAM Quick Picks [01:14:00]

A. Additional Personal Picks

  • Neil
    • Sinatra: All or Nothing At All (2015)
    • Salesman (1968)
    • A Poem is a Naked Person (1974)
    • I Am Ali (2014)
  • Ryan
    • The Atomic Cafe (1982)
  • Timmie
    • How to Die In Oregon (2011)

V. Mini Segments [01:22:00]

A.  NJAM Sees It: Best of Enemies (2015), Documentary Now (2015), Rick and Morty: Season 2 (2015)

VI. Conclusions 

A. Related Links

Original Music

The music found in this episode was written and performed by the talented Jesse James.

Audio Editing

This show was edited by Ryan Jacobi.

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