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Erin Lee Car's new interview with Los Angeles Times: How Netflix’s new Britney Spears documentary hopes to get her story right


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How Netflix’s new Britney Spears documentary hopes to get her story right

 

Britney Spears, hair flying, performs onstage

A new Netflix documentary about Britney Spears will be released next week, the second film about the pop star to come out in 2021.
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
BY AMY KAUFMANSENIOR ENTERTAINMENT WRITER 
SEPT. 22, 2021 12 PM PT

Project Red.

For months, that’s the code name Britney Spears fans have used to refer to a secretive documentary on the pop star believed to be in the works at Netflix. The rumor began after the performer began making vague Instagram references using the phrase, often posting red-themed images of colored clothing or flowers. Red, of course, happens to be the color of the Netflix logo — hence the fan conspiracy theory.

This week, the theory became an actuality: Netflix confirmed “Britney vs Spears” will premiere on Sept. 28. And though Spears did not, in fact, collaborate with filmmaker Erin Lee Carr, the movie’s release date will coincide with a pivotal moment in her life. The next hearing in her conservatorship case is scheduled for Sept. 29 — a court date that could determine whether the performer’s father, Jamie Spears, is removed as her legal guardian.

 

A woman in a midriff-baring costume with long hair performs onstage

 

“Britney vs Spears” is not the first nonfiction film to investigate Spears’ circumstan. In February, a New York Times-produced doc, “Framing Britney Spears,” premiered on FX and Hulu.

Taking a critical look at the media’s treatment of Spears during the height of her fame, the release prompted “We are sorry Britney” to start trending on Twitter. Justin Timberlake, who dated Spears from 1999 to 2002, issued a public apology to “take accountability” for the way he had treated his ex-girlfriend.

The movie also forced Carr to reshape “Britney vs Spears,” the project she’s now spent 2½ years developing. Carr has experience tackling subjects of high interest: She’s directed films about Gypsy Rose Blanchard, Michelle Carter and the USA Gymnastics scandal. (That last documentary, which aired on HBO in 2019, was the first of two films about Larry Nassar’s victims; a Netflix take followed a year later.)

Even so, Carr says she’s never worked on anything as highly anticipated as “Britney vs Spears.”

 

“People combed through my Twitter and saw that in 2018 I had posted her autograph. Somebody did a tarot card reading on what the Netflix documentary was going to be about,” said the 39-year-old, who teamed with Rolling Stone veteran Jenny Eliscu to help her report on Spears. “I was like, ‘This is next level.’ You can lose yourself inside the chaos of the story, but at the heart of it is this person publicly and privately trying to get their own freedom back.”

In an interview with The Times, Carr discussed the difficulty of convincing sources to talk about Spears, how she feels about the singer herself watching the movie and the prospect of the conservatorship finally coming to a close.

 

hqdefault.jpg

 

What initially interested you about trying to tell the Britney Spears story?

As a filmmaker who makes films about women, Britney Spears is one of the big stories. She’s an icon and a celebrated person but ended up somehow having the same legal rights as a minor. It was just a pervasive mystery of what happened to this really good person. So I very naively was like, “Well, maybe I can figure it out.” I called an industry insider at the beginning, and the person was like, “Yeah, good luck getting anyone to talk. It’s not gonna fly. It’s this story that nobody talks about.”

 

Did that only make you want to make the movie more?

No! I remember feeling panicked. People think that everybody in Britney’s life is trying to get their five minutes in the sun, and it just couldn’t be farther from the truth. People don’t want to return your phone calls. Some of the people that I really wanted that had not spoken before — they were like, “Absolutely not” or just didn’t respond. I’ve made things without access before, but you need other people if you don’t have access to the main person. And Britney, at the time, had never spoken about the conservatorship.

And you knew you’d never get her to do an interview.

I always hoped and dreamed and wished and prayed to the documentary gods. I tried to contact her repeatedly. But I had to sit with the understanding that it was unlikely ever to happen.

 

 

 

The face of a blond woman wearing dark eye makeup

So what gave you the confidence to move forward, knowing how few people would talk to you?

We had a source that was connected to the conservatorship that began to give us documents in the fall of 2020. This was the first time I had seen what people in the conservatorship at the inception of it said. It made me feel like I was on the right track. Because there was this overwhelming fear: What is it I don’t know? Why is the legal system, her father, everyone keeping her in this conservatorship? What if I am making a story about something where I just can’t have access to the right facts?

It felt like news about this case came out weekly, if not daily, over the past year. How did that affect your process?

 

I have never been on such an evolving story. It was a complete 24/7 job, and it was wild because the story kept changing. I found it to be incredibly overwhelming, but in a way, it was like the story was finally opening up. You look at 2010, 2013, 2016 — nothing happened during that time. She worked so, so much, but she was in the conservatorship, and she was later with her boyfriend [Sam Asghari]; things seemed to be normal and OK. And then that changed in 2019. So to be a documentary filmmaker that was following the story as it was breaking open felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity, though I had trouble sleeping.

 

When you found out that “Framing Britney Spears” was coming out, how did that change things for you?

How do you think it did? [Laughs] This is such a huge story, and that was such a great primer for how the media treated Britney. I think it’s an incredibly important thing for people to understand. And then for my film to take on the responsibility of the conservatorship as Britney speaks out — focusing less on how she was culturally treated but more the consequences of it.

 

So you did edit your movie after the other project was released?

Absolutely. I didn’t know what was going to be in their film. I knew that there were certain subjects where there was overlap. So when it came out, my producer Dan Cogan was, like, “All right, get going, get moving, we have to change the film.” I was, like, “Well, my film makes the arguments in a different way.” And he was, like, “We are now going to change course.” Netflix was so understanding and gave us some more time.

What would you say are the vital differences between your movie and “Framing Britney Spears”?

This is a two-and-a-half years long investigative process into the conservatorship. There has been an amazing amount of coverage, but that’s a really long time to be focused on this. We wanted to be the definitive place to understand the beginning, middle and hopefully what we will find out as the end of this saga.

 

If you care about women, you should watch this movie. If you care about mental health, you should watch this movie. If you’re a fan of Britney Spears, you should watch this movie.

Uhh huh I copied one thing 😶 please remove my post

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2 minutes ago, rennen said:

I specifically made the creative decision that we were not going to utilize the same imagery that she has said before is traumatizing. The incidents that happened in 2007 during one of the episodes at the hospital — you’re never going to see those. 

MAJOR respect to this director. 

Yes! Glad they made that choice :katycream_perry_witness_nod_yes:  Quite interesting because someone here said we would be shocked about what they tell of 2007-2008

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4 minutes ago, rennen said:

I specifically made the creative decision that we were not going to utilize the same imagery that she has said before is traumatizing. The incidents that happened in 2007 during one of the episodes at the hospital — you’re never going to see those. 

MAJOR respect to this director. 

This is amazing 

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2 minutes ago, femmepop said:

omg Jenny Eliscu is involved?! 

my manifestation came true :mcry_mariah_carey_proud_beaming:

Jenny was the Rolling Stone reporter that Britney liked best and is one of the first journalists to highlight the weirdness of the conservatorship and point out that Britney was trying to get out in the 2008 Rolling stone "Yes She Can" Cover issue! 

 

As soon as I saw her name I knew would be watching!!

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19 minutes ago, femmepop said:

omg Jenny Eliscu is involved?! 

my manifestation came true :mcry_mariah_carey_proud_beaming:

Jenny was the Rolling Stone reporter that Britney liked best and is one of the first journalists to highlight the weirdness of the conservatorship and reported that Britney was trying to get out in the 2008 Rolling stone "Yes She Can" Cover issue! 

 

Omg you're right this is the frist time I read her interview from the rolling stones and it's crazy how Britney is literally manifesting the same things as now. 

 

“I basically just want my life back,” Britney can be heard saying in a tape of the call. (In her world, people sometimes tape each other’s phone calls.) “I want to be able to drive my car. I want to be able to live in my house by myself. I want to be able to say who’s going to be my security guard.” .

Why didn't anyone do anything back in the day? Can someone explain me? :katycream_perry_witness_nod_yes:

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4 minutes ago, Oxic said:

Omg you're right this is the frist time I read her interview from the rolling stones and it's crazy how Britney is literally manifesting the same things as now. 

 

“I basically just want my life back,” Britney can be heard saying in a tape of the call. (In her world, people sometimes tape each other’s phone calls.) “I want to be able to drive my car. I want to be able to live in my house by myself. I want to be able to say who’s going to be my security guard.” .

Why didn't anyone do anything back in the day? Can someone explain me? :katycream_perry_witness_nod_yes:

Shes literally been sayin' it since '08.

She also said it all basically in FTR.  But the public didn't give  ****! Everyone was distracted by her "back at work" looking pretty again .

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3 hours ago, Oxic said:

So you did edit your movie after the other project was released?

Absolutely. I didn’t know what was going to be in their film. I knew that there were certain subjects where there was overlap. So when it came out, my producer Dan Cogan was, like, “All right, get going, get moving, we have to change the film.” I was, like, “Well, my film makes the arguments in a different way.” And he was, like, “We are now going to change course.” Netflix was so understanding and gave us some more time.

Interesting. This essentially confirms that the documentary originally was pretty much pro c-ship or at the very least was presented in a way which may have led the viewer to believe that the people around her act in her best interests

Now, the real question is, will Louise actually be featured on it? That would explain why she met with a Netflix executive and why the film went through numerous changes

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2 hours ago, jj_boha said:

At the time us fans were interpreting this as Britney’s freedom from the press and paparazzi. She was harassed by media daily and never had privacy. It’s interesting to look back on this statement now as it’s likely she was referring to the conservatorship

Lol I'm sorry but on FRT it's clear she's referring to the cship and we were aware of that during that time too 

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2 hours ago, PlayboyMommy said:

Interesting. This essentially confirms that the documentary originally was pretty much pro c-ship or at the very least was presented in a way which may have led the viewer to believe that the people around her act in her best interests

 

I agree. The overall feeling I got was it did seem Erin was taking a both sides of the story approach. I’m glad they re edited it. But we will see what we get next week :gunney:

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