Interview With Erin Lee Carr

HBO

How did you first learn about Gil's case?

Erin Lee Carr

I read about it in the tabloids and online. I felt myself immediately drawn to the story. As a young woman who lives in New York, it was a really scary reality that this was in the news and not something on a television show.

HBO

What made you want to tell this story?

Erin Lee Carr

: I worked at Vice and a company called The Verge covering the internet and technology. So when I see a salacious and talked-about story that meets with the internet -- it's kismet. If you can package an intellectual debate in something juicy, that's a good route to making a doc.

HBO

What surprised you about Gil?

Erin Lee Carr

It surprised me how nervous he was when we first met, in prison. I think he was as nervous as I was. Having somebody who he didn’t know visit him in prison was a scary experience, especially since I was a woman and all the allegations surrounded young women.

HBO

Did your gender influence your conversations with Gil?

Erin Lee Carr

In broad terms, I think it's really cool to be a female journalist. Not to seem sexist, but I think we're better listeners and less intimidating. As a woman looking at this story where women were the targets, I think it was important that the director was a woman. That being said, the producer is male, the editor is male. It takes all sorts to make a weird movie.

HBO

What was your take on Gil's relationship with his family?

We live in a dangerous society when our Google searches can be used as evidence against us. I think that more now than ever, Googling is an extension of the mind.
Erin Lee Carr

The Valles are fiercely loyal. They always believed in their son and not the allegations. It's really easy to dip into: Would he have done it? His family always believed in his innocence. I believe that's what kept him sane when he was in solitary confinement and in prison.

HBO

Gil's ex-wife is notably absent from the film. Was this a deliberate choice?

Erin Lee Carr

It was really important that the ex-wife have a point of view in the film, as she is the one that had to uncover all that stuff. Due to the graphic nature of the case, I always knew it would be really difficult for her to talk about it. Editor Andrew Coffman and I brainstormed how to bring her into the film and the automatic choice was that we use her court testimony. I think so many people overlook the fact of how scary it must have been for her. It was really important that we include her reference.

HBO

How did you hope viewers feel about Gil?

Erin Lee Carr

I think that film represents an evolution in how we felt about him. It was really important that the audience not know how I feel. I took a page out of winning playbooks -- a lot of the documentaries that I love are the ones where I don't know how the director felt. That's what continues the dialogue afterwards. The response so far has been so varied, and I think that's really cool.

HBO

What takeaway do you hope viewers have?

Erin Lee Carr

We live in a dangerous society when our Google searches can be used as evidence against us. I think that more now than ever, Googling is an extension of the mind. We don't know what is thought and what is action. It's important not to monitor ourselves and say, "OK, I don't want to Google this, because it will be tied to me later." That's a dangerous precedent. I Google whatever I want – as a researcher, as a journalist, as a woman, as a person that lives in this world. The internet is an incredible tool and one that I refuse to do away with out of fear.

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