Directing Pop Docs & “Cocaine Cowboys”, With Billy Corben
Episode 12 of The Cultured Podcast may as well be a masterclass in documentary filmmaking thanks to guest Billy Corben. The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning director of “Cocaine Cowboys,” “Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja,” “Limelight,” and several films for ESPN’s “30 for 30” (to name just a few), joins Michelle for a high-energy conversation filled with Billy’s unbelievable experiences behind the lens, including coming face to face with drug traffickers, murderers, and other hardened criminals.
Billy and his team of producers, Alfred Spellman and David Cypkin, created the Pop Doc genre, which turned the tide of documentaries from the dry and straightforward docs of yore to compelling, cinematic masterpieces that now reign Netflix queues everywhere.
Ever the gregarious character, Billy walks us through his childhood fascination with movies and TV, how Ron Howard inspired him to be a director, and what it takes to capture the essence of someone else’s story on film. He details the artistic complexities that documentary filmmakers must consider in order to make a masterful Pop Doc—from custom scores to pace of cuts to the style of graphic used.
About Billy Corben, Documentary Filmmaker
Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Billy Corben made his feature documentary directorial debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001, making him one of the youngest directors in Sundance history. Following that success, he and his producing partners founded rakontur, a Miami Beach-based content creation company. Their filmography includes the feature documentaries Cocaine Cowboys, Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja, and Dawg Fight and the ESPN’s 30 for 30s The U, The U Part 2, and Broke. Their 2017-18 slate includes the 6-hour documentary miniseries Cocaine Cowboys: Los Muchachos, a sequel to last year’s hit Netflix documentary Dawg Fight, an all new ESPN 30 for 30 and a documentary series about Florida called A Sunny Place For Shady People. A Florida native and lifelong Miamian, Corben was recently awarded the keys to the cities of both Miami and Miami Beach, and was named “Miami’s Best Twitter Feed 2017.”