Recently, Documentary Now! fans got a behind-the-scenes look at the making of season one from executive producer/director/writer Rhys Thomas and EP/director Alex Buono. Hosting a live Q&A and screening two episodes at New York City’s IFC Center, Thomas and Buono discussed how they achieved the distinct look of the series and what goes into their creative process with fellow documentary spoofers Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Seth Meyers.
When discussing how the show came to be, Buono revealed that, “Bill and Fred just wanted to work together and make something they’d enjoy doing together.” When selecting the documentaries that the show pays tribute to, Buono says the team asks, “Where can we find the best characters?” Getting the visual details is important to the production as well. “For The Eye Doesn’t Lie we used the same lens they used in [the Errol Morris documentary] The Thin Blue Line,” Buono added.
Buono noted that the Al Capone Festival episode was a “very uniquely Fred idea.” Shooting on location in Iceland helped to give the episode its unique feel. “I feel like a lot of networks would say no [to shooting in Iceland],” Buono said. “But [IFC] was really great.”
On the Kunuk Uncovered episode, Buono and Thomas revealed that Bill Hader was originally set to play the womanizing filmmaker role that went to John Slattery. Shooting was similar to the making of Nanook of the North, the film that Kunuk spoofed, with a “really small crew.” Thomas gave props to Seth Meyers’ script saying, “Seth took [Kanuk] on and really discovered the evolution of Kanuk and where he goes.”
Thomas is happy with the show’s response, noting, “Everyone [in the documentary community] was excited that a broader audience was looking at this in a new way.” He also credited the “really great cast” for making season one such a success.
Check out some photos from the event below. For some early details on season two of Documentary Now! (premiering this fall), click here.