PN 03: “Making a Murderer” – Behind the Scenes
“Making a Murderer” directors Laura Riccardi and Moira Demos discuss the ten-year process of creating their acclaimed Netflix series. This conversation with Thom Powers took place with a live audience at New York’s IFC Center on February 25, 2016. The filmmakers were joined by their editor Mary Manhardt and Wisconsin attorney Stephen Glynn who appears in the series. The talk has been condensed and edited for Pure Nonfiction.
“Making a Murderer” had its world premiere at the DOC NYC festival in November 2015 and was released a month later on Netflix. The series looks at a controversial true crime case in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin. Steven Avery served 18 years in prison for a wrongful conviction in the sexual assault of Penny Beernsten. (The actual perpetrator was Gregory Allen). After being exonerated with the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Avery filed a civil suit against Manitowoc County and its officials for $36 million. Stephen Glynn was on Avery’s legal team. In fall 2005, as depositions were taking place for the suit, Avery was accused of a new crime, the murder of photographer Teresa Halbach whose body parts were found on the salvage yard where he lived.
As graduate film students, Riccardi & Demos began covering the Avery case in 2005 and took 10 years to complete the project. Other key names in this conversation are Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey, who was brought to trial as an accomplice; the special prosecutor Ken Kratz; and Avery’s criminal defense lawyers Jerome Buting and Dean Strang.
On Pure Nonfiction, the filmmakers take us through the steps of production and reflect on their long journey.
“It did at times get really difficult for Moira and me,” says Riccardi. “Our families were really concerned about us – with good reason – and wanted assurances from us that we really couldn’t provide.”
Thanks to SundanceNow Doc Club for sponsoring this episode.