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Bill Megalos “Do not start working in the movie industry if you do not adore it”

25 March 2010 / 10:03:34  GRReporter
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Maria S. Topalova

Special representative of GRReporter in Rockport, Main

In the documentary cinema he is a legend. He has been awarded a golden globe for documentary in 1986 for his movie Down and Out of America, dedicated to the economic policy of the president Ronald Reagan and its effect on the poor and homeless. In 1989 he receives the Emmy award for W. Eugene Smith a biographical movie about the great American photojournalist. He has over 30 full – length documentaries, made for televisions like BBC, Channel 4, PBS. Among them are masterpieces of the documentary cinema like Paris is Burning and A Night in Havana – Dizzy Gilespie in Cuba. In 1985 he wins the award of the World Health Organization for Media Excellence for the series of documentaries dedicated to the family planning in Bangladesh. 

He never hides his Greek origin and despite of the fact that he is a third generation American Greek he speaks the language fluently. He was born in New York and currently he lives and works in Los Angelis. He works as a trainee for Teo Angelopoulos and is part of the team who made the movie “Alexander the Great”, because of which Angelopoulos was awarded the Golden lion in the Film festival in Venice in 1980. Just like every other summer in the past 20 years, this year as well Bill Megalos is teaching a masters class in the Media Workshop of the American state Main where we meet. This year’s topic of the class is “The documentary cinema and the non government organizations”.


  • - Bill when do you feel satisfied with your work?
  • - This is not exactly a feeling. Always after one movie is finished comes the next one which has to start right away. In the middle of the 90s, in the boom of the so called “.com” era me and few more people started making television. We had a very good work before we started transmitting. This is the biggest quantity of work I had ever had to do. I created 6 different series of television show programs which had to be broadcasted in this television. I am talking about hundreds of hours television time. With the approaching of the start date of the television I was thinking that this will be the day when we open the Champaign bottles and we celebrate. However when the day came we couldn’t afford to have even one minute of celebrating because we had to prepare the programs for the next day. We said to ourselves: “Good job boys! We did a great job! Let’s get back to work now”. When do I feel satisfied? This is also related to the way the Media Workshop in Main works. At the end of the seminar everybody gathers and present their works. The movie producers rarely have the chance to see the work of other people. When you are in the hall and you watch how people react to your movies – this is what fills me with satisfaction. For example I teach a class in Uganda as well. I have 10 students and each one of them at the end of these two weeks of training presents his movie. We invite all the people in the are who are actually the characters of our movies to watch them together with us and this is very beautiful. However this is something unusual it is not a simple satisfaction from the work because of the work itself. This is another social experience which we usually do not have.



  • - You work a lot with non government organizations. Why? What does working with them bring you?
  • - I love a lot to travel. And I don’t just love to travel, I love to travel in a certain way. I feel much more comfortable in the developing countries than in those that are already developed. If I am not at least once a year at a place where the life has kept the same as it has always been, I feel immoral and totally lost touch with the real world. If you want to be in places like this, what kind of movies would you make there? Besides this I deeply believe that in the world there has to be poverty. That poverty is not the fault of the people who are poor, but all of us who have created the rest are guilty, for creating this structuring of the world which we currently have. I am doing everything I can to decrease the poverty and hunger around the world and this is the kind of movies I enjoy making.


Tags: interview Bill Megalos documentary cinema
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