Nick Broomfield // Errol Morris


The cinema of Nick Broomfield and Errol Morris can easily be seen as supplements of each other.

Both are contemporaries and documentary filmmakers, yes...

However, for Broomfield, the subject is not the purpose of the documentary: it's of a captured experience: Broomfield's process in making the movie (or the movie falling apart). 

Morris, on the other hand, acts as the discoverer of amazing oral stories, giving them a prior shave and a good hair cut, and documents the most vivid telling of that story by the various personalities involved.

Broomfield, telling.

Morris, told.


The significant contrast lies in their play with the subjective and the objective.

Broomfield maintains himself as an active character in the unfolding of his films, sometimes portraying the dead-ends and failures of the work itself (financial backers leaving due to controversy, inability to arrange an interview with the central subjects of the film, etc)...

Whereas Morris literally fused his face into the camera lens, with a contraption he calls the Interrotron, attempting to create a heightened energy from the subjects during filming: Morris's face simply acts as a surrogate for all the faces, for all the eyes of any spectator — and it shows: the quality of revelation from each subject is so overflowing and passionate, with a richness that expands the existing art form, it's obvious Morris struck gold with this technique.

Yet Broomfield will meet his subjects for the first time with the camera rolling, catching them awkwardly off-guard, as he first enters into the room.


Of their respective filmographies, Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control (1993), by Morris, and Fetishes (1996), by Broomfield, struck me as my favorite.

These two movies also are about as vivid and distinct as they get for the filmmakers.

However, they have some stuff in common: both remain grounded in the nature of the fringe pop Western tabloid article; both are fascinated with the culture of the Grand Colonizers (America + Britain); both unlock a macro universal resonance by focusing on the micro.

One is clean, one is dirty.

One shares his thoughts to you like a friend, the other startles you with unexpected off-camera remarks.

The polarity between these two filmmaker's styles, while still maintaining a sense of harmony in their shared objectives, is another example of cinema's versatility; of how slippery ideas like "reality" "truth" and "perspective" are, especially when delivered in the medium whose substance is the fragmentation, fixation, & rearrangement of reality itself.

With only a 125 year history, much is yet to be discovered, reflected, and acted on in the phenomenal world of these projections of our inner dream selves.


Cruel Intentions (1999)

Nick Broomfield's Counter Shots