"It must be nice to always know better, to always be the smartest one in the room."
"No. It's awful."
-- Peter Hackes and Holly Hunter, Broadcast News
For all of the talk about An Inconvenient Truth's ground-breaking nature -- a top-ten Box Office showing in its first week despite playing on less than 100 screens nationwide, a unique cinematic opportunity to have an ex-Vice President open up on film about his life and ideas, an unabashed attempt to try and change the direction of the planet's fate with mere storytelling and argument -- it also demonstrates one of the classic rules of indie filmmaking. If you want to get something on film fast, have the person you're filming practice, practice, practice. It works for adaptations of plays (like The Shape of Things or Melvin Goes to Dinner); it works for concert films (like The Last Waltz and Neil Young: Heart of Gold). There are no guarantees to success in filmmaking, but if your project involves pointing the camera at someone who's doing something they've done any number times before you've certainly narrowed down the number of things that might go terribly wrong.
And Al Gore has been talking -- and thinking -- about global warming for 30 years; recently, he's begun addressing crowds about the topic. Directed by high-end TV veteran Davis Guggenheim, An Inconvenient Truth takes Gore's road show and makes a movie out of it. In many ways, An Inconvenient Truth is like the documentary equivalent of adapting a musical like Phantom of the Opera or Hairspray into a film. And in many ways it is not, because when you make a film out of The Phantom of the Opera, there's not a flurry of punditry about if The Phantom is going to run for President again in 2008.