Ryan White is, to say the least, a versatile documentary filmmaker with such diverse credits as Serena, Good ‘Ol Freda, Ask Dr. Ruth, Assassins, and The Case Against 8 among an impressive list of movies and subjects he has tackled in his career, but none would seem to pose the challenge of turning the nearly 15 year Mars Rover expedition in something resembling a coherent, not to mention, exciting film experience. But with the help of the wizards at both Amblin and Industrial Light & Magic, plus an open door at NASA which recorded thousands of hours of footage during the course of their Mars Exploration, but had never looked at what they actually shot for the most part, White had a dream and nightmare combined in order to make sense of it all, find the most interesting human participants to tell the amazing story, and most importantly turn the two robotic star geologists of the tale, Opportunity and Spirit, into true movie stars that will make you laugh, cry, and hang on to the edge of your seat. Call it a cross between Wall-E and The Martian, or whatever you would like, but White has managed to make one of the year’s best movies, one that already swept the Critics Choice Documentary Awards earlier this month, winning five including Best Documentary Feature. The film from Amazon Studios / Amblin Entertainment is now streaming on Prime Video after a three week theatrical run. Check out my conversation with Ryan White as he takes us ‘behind the lens’ of this remarkable achievement.
Join me every Friday for another episode of Behind The Lens.