I wish I had a foot like a clam. Then I could be truly anchored in reality. (I have a foot, but sadly, it’s not like a clam.)
Funny? Genius? Weird? Oddly uninteresting? This is what I’ve come to expect from following the Twitter feed of documentary filmmaker Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line; Fast, Cheap & Out of Control; Tabloid). I hope by now you’ve come to enjoy the joys of Twitter, which I find much more engaging than Facebook. There’s less me-me-me involved, and you can drench yourself in the 140-or-less character haikus without getting wet. In and out, I say, and then move along with my day.
There are a good number of doc-related Twitter feeds (including @1basil1, @thompowers and POV’s own @povdocs, @skilmurry and, premiering this week, @docqueen), but I want to champion Morris’ (@errolmorris), because it is a particularly intriguing window into a documentary filmmaker’s brain, as evidenced in his remarkably uneven tweets.
Read more of Errol Morris’s memorable tweets…
There are the resonant ones, regarding documentary filmmaking:
The goal. Making a movie with simplicity of style and complexity of content. (Fat chance of achieving it.)
Herzog, yes. I wouldn’t be a filmmaker if not for him. (I saw “Fata Morgana” and “Land of Darkness and Silence” when I was 25 years old.)
And then there are the silly, insipid ones, as if written by your 11th grade AP English classmate:
I have been visited by the Four Snowmen of the Apocalypse: Donner, Blitzen, Santa Claus and Frosty.
Better feted than fetid.
But I appreciate those bits partly because they are so. . . human. They break up his deep ruminations on Wittgenstein or his reading about real people destroyed by fictional characters. (Cool!)
It’s wacky and weird, and I get the sense that Morris is, like many of us, still trying to get his head around communicating with his 17,000-plus followers, as is evidenced by repeated use of parentheses and his self-referential posts:
Why is it that every time I tweet I lose followers? (I must be very boring.)
Or, the more funny…
I think I should go back over all of my tweets and correct them.
I’m surprised to find that there aren’t many documentary directors burning up the Twittersphere with similarly unique feeds. (If you Google “documentary filmmakers on twitter,” your first hit will be the one and only POV blog, in an interesting early ’09 post by Amanda Hirsch.) I get the sense that many filmmakers get on Twitter but then give it a half-hearted approach, probably because they’ve been told to promote an upcoming release by their distributor’s marketing department, and then they disappear.
Or maybe Michael Moore (@MMFlint) is taking up too much space. Having posted more than 1,600 times, he may not be tweeting at the astronomical clip that, say, critic Roger Ebert does (19,000-plus tweets!), but he makes up for it by having more followers (791,000 versus 409,000). I appreciate Moore’s lefty quips:
BREAKING: Osama bin Laden just found inside Wisconsin clerk’s closet. “I’m sorry I misplaced him. But we did find 750 ballots on him.”
But I’m hungry for some more uniquely inspired documentary director Twitter feeds. Who do you think are the interesting doc filmmakers to follow on Twitter?
Independent journalist Tom Roston checks in and writes about the world of documentaries in his column, Doc Soup. You can also follow Tom on Twitter @DocSoupMan.