This sordid election is finally coming to an end and after writing about some of the great documentary output in recent Soups, I think it’s time we let off a little steam. So, let’s have a little fun, shall we? I asked some documentary filmmakers to ponder the following request with as much moxie, earnestness, sarcasm or irony as they could muster:

If you were to make a documentary about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, please describe one salient detail from your hypothetical film: a central question, an opening shot, a theme, a key interview subject, the title, or what ever comes to mind.


TRUMP: The Day After. The first title that comes to mind refers to an ’80s TV movie about full-scale nuclear destruction that was so scary and potentially traumatizing, I was not allowed to watch as a child.
– Ezra Edelman (OJ: Made in America, Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals)


I would like to make a film about Donald Trump at home where he doesn’t speak, but the film illustrates that all that we think of him is true.  We’d see his morning routine, close ups of lots of coffee, large sausages frying, bread, close ups of him eating.  He’d drop his clothes behind him not caring who has to clean up, and then we’d follow him as he slowly walks up the stairs to a locked room where an attendant hands him a towel and we realize he’s on his way to an opulent self tanning studio he has installed in his home.  I’d love to be close up on his fleshy face as he tans, and perhaps turns the dial ever deeper to burnt sienna.
– Dawn Porter (Trapped, Gideon’s Army)


My film would have an extended close up of Trump’s face as he’s moving through a crowd of supporters. Slow motion. Trump’s tortured expression filling the frame. Just to watch his eyes – a man full or narcissism and dread, out of his league yet somehow so completely sure he’s the leader of something. Lost, angry, tired, petulant, ugly. Very human, of humans, yet somehow, if you look long enough, quite alien. Us and not us. Something dying or something being born?

– Robert Greene (Kate Plays Christine, Fake it So Real)


Maybe I’ve seen Citizen Kane too many times, but in my mind Trump’s Mar-A-Lago butler of nearly 30 years is the key. (Of course, it’s impossible to see Citizen Kane too many times.)
– Doug Block (112 Weddings, 51 Birch Street)


Making a contemporaneous nonfiction film about Donald Trump would have been a dream after working with Rose Hartman. If I had Trump in chair, I’d try to get in his head, break him down and show that behind the bluster, the bigotry, the “f–k you” attitude is a human soul that’s most likely overcompensating for the childhood trauma that made him feel little and small, like being sent off to f–king military school, the poor f–k. Trump’s rep would be a likely facsimile of or actually Hope Hicks in the flesh, and any interviewer would represent the intriguing dichotomy of “your-boss-as-pussy-grabber.” I should know…PUSSY GRABS BACK!!

– Øtis Mass (The Incomparable Rose Hartman)

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Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He is a former Premiere magazine senior editor, who graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom's freelance work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter and other publications. He has written several Kindle Singles, including the bestselling Kindle Singles Interview: Ken Burns. Tom's current list of favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi by Godfrey Reggio; 2. Hoop Dreams by Steve James; 3.Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley; 4.Crumb by Terry Zwigoff; 5. Montage of Heck by Brett Morgen