One day, you're directing a tiny documentary about supergeeks obsessed with old-school video games. The next, you're executive producing a big-budget documentary made up of short films directed by some of the best documentarians currently working and based on a hugely influential best seller.
Yes, that's a massive oversimplification of what's been going on lately with Seth Gordon, who shot to (documentary) fame with the King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters -- a doc about two obsessed gamers and their quest to be the undisputed champion of Donkey Kong, one of the most difficult video games ever created. After directing the successful Reese Witherspoon/Vince Vaughn holiday comedy Four Christmases and episodes of high-performing TV comedies like the Office, Community and Modern Family, Gordon is now the executive producer of Freakonomics, which is based on the 2005 New York Times bestseller Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. In the book (which has sold over four million copies), economist Steven D. Levitt (aided by journalist Stephen J. Dubner) applies economic principles to distinctly non-economic topics like baby names, cheating in sumo wrestling, and the relationship between legalizing abortion and falling crime rates. The film version is made up of four short films directed by some of the biggest luminaries of the documentary world -- Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room), Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp), and Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight). Gordon directed the segments between each story that tie Freakonomics together.
Watch the trailer for Freakonomics (opening October 1) below.
I spoke to Gordon in Los Angeles about applying Freakonomics, working with a group of celebrated documentarians, films that changed Gordon's life, and matters concerning Donkey Kong and the scripted remake of the King of Kong that is in the works. Check out my ReThink Interview with Seth Gordon below.
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