We just wrote about a lawsuit involving a documentary filmmaker who was trying (but failed) to protect unused footage
from being subpoenaed for a lawsuit involving Chevron's involvement in Ecuadorian pollution. It raised questions about whether or not a documentary filmmaker could be seen as an investigative journalist, and thus could be covered by a shield law. Apparently, documentary filmmakers involved in films in that general part of the world are expanding their job titles all the time. THREsq has the fascinating story of a "documentary filmmaker" who went to Nicaragua to interview people about pesticides used on Dole banana plantations, who recently admitted he was also on the payroll of a law firm
that was looking to sue over problems with the pesticide:
"I decided the film wasn't going to change a lot in this world," Glaser said on the witness stand in a case involving six men claiming they were left sterile by pesticide exposure. "I decided to work with the firm and help with the legal process...I decided to use the film for that purpose."
So he was still making the film, it's just that he got financing from the law firm looking to use the evidence collected in a case. It's a neat trick, though the report questions if this will make people more nervous about talking to filmmakers. I'm not sure that's really true. If the film was being made anyway to "expose" problems with the pesticide, then the company was probably already afraid of talking to the guy, and those impacted by the pesticide are probably happy about both the movie and the lawsuit. Still, I find it an interesting type of "business model" for a documentary filmmaker to also be a law firm investigator...