Season two of “Conversations with Clayton” continues with an interview with your favorite documentary filmmaker. Billy Corben is the director of such instant classics as “Cocaine Cowboys” (2006), “The U” (2009), “Broke” (2012), and “Dawg Fight” (2015) as well as the sequels “The U: Part II” (2014) and “Cocaine Cowboys 2: Hustlin’ with the Godmother” (2008). Rakontur Films, Corben’s production company, will release its latest documentary in 2018, “Cocaine Cowboys: Los Muchachos”.
In our interview, Billy discusses the depiction of Miami in popular culture, the University of Central Florida’s claim to the college football national championship, and his favorite films in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series.
Clayton Trutor (CT): After two seasons, what grade would you give Mark Richt for his performance as Miami’s head coach?
Billy Corben (BC): B+ for effort.
CT: What would be your ideal method for determining a national champion in college football?
BC: Roshambo. A legitimized version of the playoff system where the best teams with the best records play each other to determine who is the champion.
CT: What are your thoughts on the way that Miami is presented in popular culture. Can you give some examples from film/television that you find compelling? Can you give some examples that you have found frustrating?
BC: If you’ve never been to Miami, you’d think that 10 blocks of Ocean Drive is all there is here. Miami-Dade is a gigantic county with 34 different municipalities within. It’s incredibly diverse and staggeringly poor. It’s practically a third-world country. It can be irritating when Miami is depicted as nothing more than a sexy, cool destination for rich people. In fact, during Miami Dolphins and Hurricanes games at Joe Robbie Stadium (aka Hard Rock Stadium), when they cut from a blimp aerial shot of the field to South Beach, as if that’s right outside the stadium. Joe Robbie is in the city of Miami Gardens, one of Miami’s poorest and most dangerous underserved communities— and 18 miles away from South Beach.
The gritter it gets, the more accurate it is. Some of my favorite Miami movies include Any Given Sunday, Bad Boys, Black Sunday, Absence of Malice, Miami Blues, Pain and Gain, Tony Rome and Wild Things.
CT: Do you envision yourself as continuing to make documentaries based in South Florida or would you considering making documentaries that are set largely in other places?
BC: We’ll tell good stories wherever we find them. We’re based in South Florida, which is an extraordinary resource of stories and characters, so it puts us at a unique advantage.
CT: What filmmakers have most inspired your approach to making documentaries?
BC: The filmmakers who have most inspired me in general are Billy Wilder, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Nick Broomfield, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky.
CT: Besides your own, what are some of your favorite of the 30 for 30 documentaries?
BC: O.J.: Made in America, The Two Escobars and Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?
CT: What are your thoughts on UCF’s claim to the college football national championship?
BC: I claim that the University of Miami Hurricanes won the 2002 national championship, so more power to UCF.
CT: When you hear the word “Cincinnati,” you think of __________:
Follow Billy Corben on Twitter: @BillyCorben
Head over to Rakontur.Com to stay up-to-date on Billy’s latest film projects.
For more of the same, follow me on Twitter: @ClaytonTrutor