Interview: Filmmaker Michael Moore (CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY)

Will Schiffelbein

by: Will Schiffelbein
March 8th, 2010

Michael Moore is the internationally acclaimed documentarian whose body of work examines nearly every aspect of American life. With BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE he examined the culture of gun ownership, the negative effects it has upon society, and the danger that firearms bring to the world. In FAHRENHEIT 9/11 Moore examined the tragedies of September 11th, 2001 and takes a look at the ways in which our world has changed since then.

In his latest film, CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, Michael Moore takes aim at the very basis of our economic system. He looks at what's broken, the widespread effects that its flaws have brought, and what we can do to fix it.

Check out my interview with Michael Moore, after the jump.

GATW: Michael Moore, thank you so much for joining us on

MM: Hi Will. Where are you from?

GATW: I'm actually from CO SPRINGS, Colorado. But I'm calling you now from Greeley, Colorado.

Michael Moore: Cool. I've been there.

GATW: You know, that really doesn't surprise me. I was wondering if you could give our listeners who aren't really familiar with your film or your body of work a short description of the film and tell them why you chose to make this movie.

MM: Capitalism: A Love Story is... I made this film in my 20th year of filmmaking. I started 20 years ago with a movie called ROGER AND ME, which a movie about General Motors and how it was destroying my home town of Flint, Michigan. 20 years later, it's not just GM anymore. It's not just Flint, MI. It's many many corporations. It's the entire country. So I decided to take a look an economic system that I think is unfair, and it's unjust. It's not democratic if the people don't control it. It's called Capitalism. It's benefited a few people quite well. We're at a point right now where the richest 10, actually the richest 1% have more financial wealth than the bottom 95% combined. 1% own more than the 95%. In a democratic free society. Historians will look at that and go, "What makes people think they were free." We're living in a country right now where 1 out of every 8 homes is in foreclosure or delinquency. There's a foreclosure filed in this country once every 7 and a half seconds. We're in desperate shape. I'm talking to you now from Michigan, where the official unemployment hovers around 15-20%. But unofficially it's quite well over 30%.

GATW: You mentioned, ROGER AND ME, but I'm specifically referring to BOWLING and FAHRENHEIT, they deal with very defined and specific issues where CAPITALISM tries to tackle something much more broad. It tries to tackle the very basis of our economic system. How'd you even go about making this movie?

MM: Did I mention it's a comedy? (laughs) No really, I'm listening to myself describe it. I'm thinking, dude, you've gotta tell these people you made this as a movie. I mean, I made this for something where you go to the theater, get the DVD, sit at home on a Friday night and be entertained. And you will be entertained. This thing has an emotional thing running through it. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll shake your head and wonder what the hell is going on. So I want you to know that I'm a filmmaker first and foremost, so I made this as a movie. Not just as a rant or a political speech or a sermon or anything like that.

GATW: You said you're a filmmaker first before you're even a political pundit or anything like that. Could you elaborate a bit more on what you see your role is as a filmmaker.

MM: My job is to make sure after you've worked hard all week and you've paid for this movie and you've paid for a babysitter and you've paid for a dinner out and you've paid outrageous prices at the theater for popcorn and soda. At the very least, as filmmakers, we better be sure we give you a damn good two hours. So first and foremost that's my goal. Now if some people come away from the film enlightened, or feeling like they should do something as a citizen-- all the better. But I don't expect it. I'm happy if you watch and you have a great time watching it.

GATW: You actually just mentioned that your film has lots of levels. You go from laughing to crying in five minutes. One of the more memorable parts of the film that comes up quite a few times comes when you sit down with normal people and talk to them and hear their stories. Do you keep in contact with the people when you're done filming?

MM: Oh yeah. Yeah I do. I can't not. I have to be honest, It's hard. It's hard 'cause I can't save the world. I'm one person. There's a person who was evicted from his home in this film. I had to get him a lawyer and pay for it because he was treated unjustly by the bank. I just can't sit and watch that go by. But to be honest, it's difficult because I unfortunately have to witness a lot of despair across this country.

GATW: They're telling me I only have time for one more question, so I'm giving you the standard pitch. What's next? What do you have coming down the pipe?

MM: Well that's a good question. I'm gonna wait and see what happens here politically. In terms of what I want to do that way. As a filmmaker I've been working on a screenplay. I'm probably making a fiction film. I have a couple of documentaries that I wanna do different. Films that are funny and serious and all of that. I guess I'll have to wait and see, just like you'll have to wait and see.

CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY hits DVD shelves this Tuesday, March 9th.

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