Have you seen Four Christmases yet? It’s the big holiday comedy that’s plastered on every billboard and on a constant trailer loop — you probably feel like you have already seen the entire movie even if you haven’t. (And hated it.) Why do I ask? Because the director is no other than Seth Gordon, the guy who made the fantastic King is Kong, the documentary about two rival Donkey Kong aficionados. Amazingly, Gordon made the leap from the no-budget doc he made on Final Cut Pro to a studio behemoth, thanks mostly to the faith Vince Vaughn had in him after seeing Kong.
Seth Gordon, director of Four Christmases and King of KongI wrote a piece about Gordon for the Los Angeles Times this Sunday, where I touched on the genesis of his filmmaking: he was studying architecture at Yale when he spent six months in Kenya. He had a video camera and a desire to document the world around him, and presto — a career was born. I really enjoyed speaking with Gordon, who was still pretty wide-eyed about his whole Hollywood experience. (And, I should add, Four Christmases ain’t bad.)
I didn’t get to include some more detail about his feelings about going from docs to studio features in the article, so here’s what he said on the subject: “The nature of making Kong was to be so self-reliant, which was invaluable in dealing with a much bigger machine. Working alone allows you to steer through so much.”
He spoke about how he was able to better field all the departments involved in the $80-million movie because his DIY experience making a doc gave him “a specific point of view,” he said. “It made me a better collaborator.”

Published by

Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He is a former Premiere magazine senior editor, who graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom's freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. He has written several Kindle Singles, including the bestselling Kindle Singles Interview: Ken Burns. Tom's current list of favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi by Godfrey Reggio; 2. Hoop Dreams by Steve James; 3.Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley; 4.Crumb by Terry Zwigoff; 5. Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen