Crude Therapy

Director Joe Berlinger talks about how working with Metallica lead to making Crude

Joe Berlinger:
Joe Berlinger: "There's been a huge string of luck in my career."

In case you missed our interview with documentarian Joe Berlinger, his latest politically-charged picture Crude screens tonight, April 25, at 6pm at the Regal Metropolitan as part of the Cine las Americas festival.

Berlinger was also the man behind the camera for Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. He and his long-time collaborator Bruce Sinofsky got to know Hetfield et al while making his justice-seeking documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders of Robin Hood Hills. That lead to him getting unprecedented access for his 2004 rock doc about the biggest metal band in the world.

Austin Chronicle: You started making Crude before the Chevron pollution case became an international scandal, and Some Kind of Monster before Metallica nearly imploded. Right place, right time?

Joe Berlinger: There's been a huge string of luck in my career. That's definitely something that's hard for me to explain. The first time I was sitting filming a therapy session for Metallica, that was right after my complete and utter failure on Blair Witch 2, where I got eviscerated by the press, I think a little too hard. I certainly took it hard.

AC: How tough was that?

JB: It wasn't that the movie was reviewed badly, it was that I was reviewed badly. I was gutted, personally, over this movie. It was hard to take. So I myself needed therapy, and I was sitting in this room watching James Hetfield starting the process of baring his soul, thinking to myself, 'I don't know why I'm here or how I got here, but even if this film goes nowhere, I''m also hitting 40. I'm also having a great professional and existential crisis, just like these guys. So I really need to hear this shit.' I just find myself in those situations. Is it all luck? I like to think of the old cliched definition of luck as opportunity meeting preparation.

AC: So how much preparation was it? Seems like the band was very comfortable with you.

JB: The reason we met Metallica is because, in Paradise Lost, Metallica lyrics are introduced into the trial, and we felt like we had to have their music in the movie, even though they have a reputation for never allowing that up to that point. They were hard to get a hold of, and a lot of people wouldn't have expected us to successfully navigate that. We ended up getting the music for free, we developed a friendship. When Jason (Newstead) quit the band and the therapist arrived on the scene, I'm not sure other film makers would have been able to handle the situation properly, to break down the door and get in.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Cine las Americas
Cine Las Americas Review: <i>Niñas Araña</i>
Review: Niñas Araña
Life in Chile's slums, close enough to wealth to touch it

Austin Sanders, May 7, 2018

Cine Las Americas Review: <i>Arábia</i>
Review: Arábia
Tales from the workforce, drowning

Richard Whittaker, May 7, 2018

More Metallica
ACL Live Review: Metallica
Live Shot: Metallica
Hardwired act to follow

Raoul Hernandez, Oct. 7, 2018

Fantastic Fest Adds Terry Gilliam And Metallica
Fantastic Fest Adds Terry Gilliam And Metallica
Final round of films includes surprise big names

Richard Whittaker, Sept. 5, 2013

More by Richard Whittaker
Hellboy
Hellboy is back, and this time he's R-rated

April 19, 2019

Her Smell
Elisabeth Moss is a the center of a rock and roll tornado in this heartbreaking ballad of self-destruction

April 19, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Cine las Americas, Metallica, Crude, Some Kind of Monster, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Jason Newstead, Blair Witch Project, James Hetfield

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle