On Demand Close-Up: The End of the World is Nigh in ‘Collapse’

This is the last week you can check out the stunning documentary Collapse on Comcast On Demand. It’s a look at the life and views of Michael C. Ruppert, a former Los Angeles police officer who discovered an extensive drug trafficking operation being run by the CIA, and retired from the force after their continued tolerance of it. He then became an independent reporter dedicated to investigating political cover-ups on his website From The Wilderness, and in that line of work, he managed to map out the way the world works so well that he accurately predicted the collapse of the global economy. Ruppert’s apocalyptic vision of the future is profiled in Collapse by director Chris Smith who also gave us the Fancast Movie of the Week The Yes Men. Watch the preview here, take a closer look at the film with our interview with Smith below, and then check out the movie On Demand today.

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Q. How did you come to find out about Michael Ruppert? What made you decide to make a film about his vision?
Chris Smith: I’ve always been fascinated by outsiders, people who look at the world in an entirely different way than the rest of us. When we first contacted Michael it was to talk about his experiences with the CIA and drugs. When we went to his house it was clear he had other things on his mind. He had just finished his new book and was literally consumed with what he saw and still sees happening all around us – which is the collapse of industrialized civilization. We left his house, and after a few weeks figured out that that was the movie.

Q. How did he respond to being part of a film? How was he to work with?
Chris Smith: Mike had been parts of various other documentaries and produced a few of his own, so the process wasn’t unfamiliar to him. He was a complete pro in terms of giving concise, well formulated answers. He had never done an interview that was this extensive, so I was most interested in the parts of the interview that were less specific to question and answer, but more train of thought philosophizing and the parts that explored how he ended up at this place in his life.

Q. How did you figure out the structure for a film like this, to translate these ideas into a motion picture?
Chris Smith: That was the most challenging part of making the film. Luckily I was working with Barry Poltermann, my editor from American Movie and The Pool. Barry is a director as well, and has one of the best minds for structure, so I was very fortunate in that I was able to hand over 14 hours of material and he was able to make sense of it all. Once the broad strokes were in place, it was really just months of us finessing to get the balance right between the theory Mike presents and his life story.

Q. Are there any particular scenes you like the best, or that you think audiences should really take note of?
Chris Smith: I really like the section where he talks about Obama. He hadn’t ever formulated his thoughts on Obama, so you see that process take place on camera and it’s really interesting.

Q. Do you concur with everything he says about the fate of the world, or did you have arguments about his conclusions?
Chris Smith: Obviously I don’t agree with everything he says, but I found everything he said to be interesting. Michael looks and thinks about the world in a very different way than most people and that was the thing we were most interested in trying to get across.

Q. What can we do to avoid what he says will come to pass?
Chris Smith: I think educating yourself is step one. If everyone understands the potential challenges, if they come, we have a much better chance of creating solutions.

Q. What is the overall message you’d like people to take away from the film?
Chris Smith: I hope people see the film and are entertained and engaged. It’s a very thought provoking film and I’m most excited about the debate and dialogue the film creates. The Toronto Film Festival screenings were really encouraging as we found people really liked the film regardless if they believed in all, some or none of what Michael had to say – which is what we were after. We wanted the film to stand on its own as an intriguing look at an individual. Michael truly lives outside the mainstream. He’s been criticized and ostracized for most of his life for trying to get across his message. The film is as much a character study of Michael than it is a full examination of the issues he presents. It’s about the theory he’s developed over thirty years, how he ended up here and the effects it’s had on his life.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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