Gold Medal Acceptance Speech, Tampa Bay, Florida
I'm Robert Ellmann, director of the 3D animated videogame style documentary called FRICTION. Our working group from the Czech Republic would first like to thank the Education Channel for hosting this lovely celebration for all of us, and I'd like to thank Robert Sochorec for his incredible contributions, Zuzana Simkova as an actor and supporter, my parents, Sheila and William, for everything, Robert Pergl and Czech Public Television for giving us such a wonderful film-making opportunity. It’s a strange road which has brought our little group to Tampa today. Five years ago, a conceited lawyer challenged me to a tennis match. Having just injured my knee, I agreed, on condition that he play blindfolded and with vegetables stuffed in his ears (so he couldn’t hear the ball bounce). What a great thing to film, I thought, our first film was born. MTV and Czech Public Television bought it - a great shock to us – since we were then, and remain still, a movie group comprised of lawyers, translators and soldiers. That film led directly to Czech Public Television, which hired us to make a documentary entitled FRICTION for which the Education Channel is kindly honoring us here this evening. To be honest, we had no idea what kind of documentary to make at the beginning of the FRICTION digital movie project, but we knew a few things. First, we knew the subject. Czech TV picked it: an underground chemist from Green Bay who has written a series of dangerous “how to” books on subjects ranging from drug manufacture to terrorism. Second, we knew we wanted to borrow from many contemporary media forms - like comic books and videogames. Probably, FRICTION is a cross between a videogame, a comic book and a music video. Third, we knew we didn’t want to make the guy any more popular than he already was. It wasn’t our job to sell his books, so we presented him in a less toxic form: as a myth. Most viewers never realize that this guy is a real person, and we never actually admit that he is. Now, that raises a rather interesting point. How do you document somebody as a myth? Well, we haven’t documented him in any normal meaning of the term “documentary”. What we did document was the mood that he generates in those around him. We had many chances to experience this mood, both when interviewing him in many public places in Green Bay and when shooting him for 10 days in Prague. Surely, documenting a mood isn’t customary in the movie industry, but then we never really intended FRICTION to be a usual film. Finally, FRICTION demonstrates beyond any doubt that man has made progress all right – from the cave to the fall-out shelter. The Czech FRICTION team thanks you all for your attention.