Q. How did you become directing partners?ricki + annie: We met working on a narrative feature and we began spontaneously working together on projects when we were at HBO. It was an organic process that started with The Trials of Darryl Hunt and In My Corner, and eventually fused as our roles became increasing interconnected.
Q. Baseball, fashion, foodie finds, political issues and the late, great Joan Rivers. How do you choose your subjects? ricki + annie: We thrive on diversity and the balancing act of where our interests lie; however, we tend to tell stories through character. It is always going to be a love affair with character, even against the backdrop of a larger issue or when we are hired to tell a story for a brand or network.
Q. How do you get people to open up and go deeper than a surface answer? ricki + annie: You need to be emotionally available and really connect with people so that they trust you to tell their stories. If you only have a few hours – as is often the case with short form projects – it is about guiding them through the process, and finding a mutual connection point. Having a crew with whom you share a shorthand really helps to keep the focus on the subject. That’s always the number one priority.
Q. Do you ever provide questions in advance of filming? ricki + annie: On occasion with brand based projects, but rarely on our documentary features. We write volumes of questions before filming, but once that camera rolls we don’t break eye contact to look down at notes. It is more important to listen and be open to where the conversation takes you.
Q. What do you enjoy most about short-form work? ricki + annie: It’s amazing how big a story you can tell in a short period of time. There’s an eloquence to short form that we really appreciate.
Q. What’s the most rewarding part of what you do? ricki + annie: There’s so much planning, changing, evaluating and responding that is required in the production process so it is gratifying to sit in the edit suite and watch the story really come together. On a bigger picture level, to continually have a creative outlet.
Q. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work was called a wonderful eulogy for Joan. ricki + annie: Joan Rivers was clever, kind, generous and funny. She was a groundbreaking woman, but she didn’t take life or herself too seriously. The film is an historic record of how she lived her life and we are glad the film exists, and that people are able to appreciate her through it.