‘Totally Under Control’ filmmaker Alex Gibney on Trump’s hapless coronavirus response, Jared Kushner’s ridiculous PPE strategy, and the breakdown of America’s institutions

Trump Dr. Anthony Fauci coronavirus

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Alex Gibney, the Oscar, Emmy, Peabody and Grammy award-winning documentarian, has directed dozens of acclaimed films. 

Among the many disparate topics he has tackled on screen include torture and the War on Terror (“Taxi to the Dark Side”), the cruel scapegoating of Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman (“Catching Hell”), Scientology (“Going Clear”), corporate corruption (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”), and last year’s hugely popular HBO film about disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.”

Gibney’s latest film, “Totally Under Control,” (co-directed with Suzanne Hillinger and Ophelia Harutyunyan) documents the slow-moving disaster of the Trump administration’s early response to the coronavirus pandemic using archival footage, as well as new interviews with whistleblowers, medical experts, and doctors on the front lines of the pandemic.  

From the early warnings that Trump dismissed, to the shockingly ineffective leadership at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to Jared Kushner’s tragiccomic group of 20-somethings emailing business connections to secure personal protective equipment, “Totally Under Control” contextualizes a great many of the reasons the United States has had the worst COVID-19 response of any developed nation. 

“Totally Under Control” is available on video-on-demand this week, and premieres on Hulu on October 20. Business Insider columnist Anthony L. Fisher spoke with Gibney via Zoom this week.

This interview has been edited for space, style, and clarity. 

This is the first widely-released documentary that’s been shot entirely during the COVID era. What was the process like? 

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It was tough to figure out how to shoot during COVID, both in how to get images that look good and represented the moment, and also how to do so in a way that was safe, both for the camera folks, but also more importantly for the subjects. 

The film had two approaches. One was the COVID cam — which was kind of invented by [cinematographer] Ben Bloodwell. It’s sort of a tray with a handle, it’s got a laptop, it’s got a DSLR [camera] and a microphone. And we would send it to wherever the interview subject was and an assistant cameraperson would pick it up, put it on that person’s porch, connect the internet, and then leave. They’d wait in a nearby car in case there was a problem. 

Then the person would go outside and pick up the COVID cam. It was already on, so Ben could see the person, talk to them, and actually remotely operate the camera and get a nice-looking image. 

The other option we had was the Airbnb option. Ben or another cinematographer would go to an Airbnb, kind of scrub it down, and then by themselves set up the lights, set up the sound, set up the chair, and put this big screen in front with shower curtains and everything — a virus barrier. The lens poked out, and on top of the lens was a kind of a teleprompter, and an image of whoever was conducting the interview would be projected. So the interview subjects would look directly into …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Politics

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