The latest Letter of Note was sent to filmmaker Errol Morris by Harvey Weinstein back in the Miramax days of 1988. Morris went on NPR to promote his film The Thin Blue Line, and Harvey wasn't quite satisfied with his, erm, performance. Refusing to sugar-coat, the Miramax head started his complaint in the very first sentence: "Heard your NPR interview and you were boring." Weinstein continued: "You couldn't have dragged me to see The Thin Blue Line if my life depended on it."
Harvey wasn't complaining for the film -- which went on to win some pretty solid acclaim -- but rather the way Morris talked about it, "in short one sentence answers." Weinstein argued, pretty rightly so, that it should be discussed "from an emotional point of view." If Morris couldn't do as Harvey asked, he would "hire an actor in New York to pretend." (Can you imagine?!)
I'm including the transcript after the jump, but you can check out the scan on Miramax letterhead over at Letters of Note.
August 23, 1988
c/o The Mondrian Hotel
8440 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Heard your NPR interview and you were boring. You couldn't have dragged me to see THE THIN BLUE LINE if my life depended on it.
It's time you start being a performer and understand the media.
Q: What is this movie about?
A: It's a mystery that traces an injustice. It's scarier than NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. It's like a trip to the Twilight Zone. People have compared it to IN COLD BLOOD with humor.
Speak in short one sentence answers and don't go on with all the legalese. Talk about the movie as a movie and the effect it will have on the audience from an emotional point of view.
If you continue to be boring, I will hire an actor in New York to pretend that he's Errol Morris. If you have any casting suggestions, I'd appreciate that.
Keep it short and keep selling it because that's what's going to work for you, your career and the film.
Congratulations on all your good reviews. Let's make sure the movie is as successful.