The Voyeur, Revealed: An Interview with co-directors Josh Kuory and Myles Kane, PART I

Voyeur follows Gay Talese — the 84-year-old giant of modern journalism — as he reports one of the most controversial stories of his career: a portrait of a Colorado motel owner, Gerald Foos.  For decades, Foos secretly watched his guests with the aid of specially designed ceiling vents, peering down from an “observation platform” he built in the motel’s attic. He kept detailed journals of his guests’ most private moments — from the mundane to the shocking — but most of all he sought out, spied on, and documented one thing: strangers having sex. Talese’s insatiable curiosity leads him to turn his gaze to a man accustomed to being the watcher, exploring a tangle of ethical questions: What does a journalist owe to his subjects? How can a reporter trust a source who has made a career of deception? Who is really the voyeur?

Voyeur, co-directed by Josh Kuory and Myles Kane, premiered at the 55th New York Film Festival in October 2017 and will be launching on Netflix December 1, 2017. Koury, an alumnus of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Film program, worked on this film as part of his thesis project while attending VCFA.

An excerpt of this interview has been published on New England Film.


Aja Zoecklein: Having seen an earlier version of the film, and now having seen the final version, I was blown away by the differences: how tight the final cut felt and how much more compassion I had towards the players, especially the Voyeur. Can you talk about your editing process over the last year or so to help the story along?

Josh Kuory: The biggest changes that we made, besides general tightening up and refining, was adding additional visual treatments: some more recreations, and a little bit more on the miniatures. Mostly to help get us into the mindset of the characters–especially Foos in the attic and connecting him to that world a little bit, almost as if living in his head. We also added a lot more around when the miniature set starts to fall apart to reflect the overall arc of what is happening in the story. On top of that, we had the opportunity to work closely with Netlix and got the film in front of a lot more people to start that feedback and refinement process.


AZ: To borrow from a line in the film, “when you hold onto stories, things change.” You spent years of your lives with Talese and Foos and there really seemed to be a sense of friendship and camaraderie amongst you all — at one point, Foos says “I love you guys.” While there are multiple layers, the film is really about the relationship of these two–very real — humans, and to the juxtaposition of parallel lives in a specific point of time. How did the act of making this film change the story for you, or did it?

Kuory: Just generally in the way that Myles and I work as co-directors… my wife, Trisha Kuory, the producer for the film, and I, we were spending a lot of time with Gerald and his wife, Anita, and then Miles spent a lot time with Gay. So, I’ll just talk a little bit about our experience with Gerald. It’s sort of like what happened in the film, the more we get to know Gerald the more we started to understand him and empathize with him. Not forgive him for what he did, because I think that’s unforgivable, but just sort of understand him and understand the dynamic between him and Anita –who is, as far as I’m concerned, the most innocent, and likeable, and interesting…that’s just me maybe, but I don’t know…

Myles Kane: No, it’s definitely not just you. I mean she’s like the star at every festival. I think she’s a conduit for the audience because she’s an innocent, and obviously the smallest personality in the room. I think some of her comments are surprising, but also sort of cathartic because she often says ultimately what’s actually going on and speaks truthfully, even if it’s just calling her husband a creep. She’s the human empathetic face that the audience needs.

You mentioned, working with these “two humans”– I think that’s a good way to put it–because that’s definitely how Josh and I always like to try to approach our characters in production, approaching them as “humans,” meaning they’re flawed, they’re real people. In the edit we weighed them both equally. The nature of the format is you expect the subject to be portrayed as the victim and the journalist as the perpetrator, but we weighed them equally, and they’re both flawed and both likable in some ways. It was definitely a challenge, but I think that’s why it took four plus years to make this film, it takes time to peel back the layers.

AZ: Talese writes, “Most journalists are restless voyeurs who see the warts on the world, the imperfections in people and places.” The most compelling aspects while viewing this film were the times where you and your team are visibly present, either in reflective glimpses (Foos’s glasses, a window, a computer screen) or in that tense scene with Talese near the end of the film where we can hear you in dialogue with your subjects. Did you know early on that your role needed to be present in the film for the most impact, or did it evolve into necessity?

Kuory: Our filmmaking style is very much to record and to capture as much as possible, in order to give us a lot of different options to layer the story or discover new angles in the story during our post-production. So we had a lot of footage that included us, partly just because of how we shoot,  and to some degree, by accident. Very late in the process we discussed amongst some of our creative peers the idea of bringing ourselves in as a third layer of voyeurism,  the audience then being the fourth layer. Once we started to realize that we were integral to the story we felt it was our duty, or not our duty really, but just that it was important to implicate ourselves here too, because we’re not blameless either.

Kane: Everything we’re hearing about Gay Talese’s career and his approach to journalism is a constant echo to what we do. It was just so clear that we’re all cut from the same cloth in terms of our desire to try to portray the truth, dramatize the truth, make these works out of non-fiction. Like Josh said, it became necessary at some point. If we if we’re going to make this sort of somewhat critical movie about a journalist, successes and flaws, we need to certainly tip our hat to the fact that we are maybe guilty of the same things.

AZ: I loved this idea of toying with perspective, who is looking in/who is looking out… you achieved this truncated POV visually by obstruction and looking through things, as well as camera angles. Can you talk a little about manipulating visuals to convey greater meaning and metaphor?

Kane: Similarly to what I was talking about with the whole kind of journalism parallel, the camera here is obviously the ultimate voyeuristic tool. We, as documentarians, and people in general, are so aware of the camera which for some reason seems to have more power than just the eyes. Stylistically there certainly was a choice in terms of shooting–in both their houses, they are both collectors,  there is  just so much stuff!–it presented itself naturally that you would constantly see them surrounded by many things, or be able to look at them through things. In the edit it proved to be a great element because our film is not a heavy handed essay, we are mostly letting our character tell their own story. So, that was sort of a subtle way for us to make this commentary without using sound bites from other people or other mechanisms to convey the point. It weaved the layers together underneath the main storyline.

AZ: The miniature model of the motel was an essential component to telling Foos’s perspective of omnipotence in a way that literal reenactments would not have effectively been able to. How did the idea come about?

Kane: While we hoped this would be a present day story, we knew early on that a big part of it was past-tense, and we would need to have some sort of recreation happen. Reenactments are par for the course with documentaries, but as a result, are also open to criticisms. We were very conscious of not wanting it to stick out or feel overly falsified or dramatized. So that was the first thing, and then we also really wanted to have something that felt like it was it was more than wallpaper so to speak, not just this kind of literal visualization. The miniature thing came up after we had seen these photos stills of miniatures in crime scene photography and there was something attractive about bypassing using actors to play every moment. Being that the motel itself was sort of a character in the movie, we thought, why don’t we just use the architecture and the space as sort of the main set and use props and lighting and all that to invoke? Knowing that Gay and Gerald are such good storytellers we knew that we could, luckily, rely on them a lot to tell the story. They are both very colorful speakers.

Kuory: Right, and as the film progresses, the model–this perfect memory that they have–is starting to fall apart at the seams and becomes more fragile. And you realize that the model stands in for the truth of the story in many ways…

Kane: Truth can be elusive. Certainly it would feel solid. You think it’s one thing and then you realize it’s not, it’s a model. It speaks to the artificiality of facts, how they can so easily just suddenly dissipate.

Stay tuned for Part II of this conversation! Voyeur premieres on Netflix December 1st, 2017, don’t miss it!

Alumnus Ken Raimondi (’15) is a 2017 TOYA nominee!

Congratulations to VCFA’s own Ken Raimondi for his nominiation to the 2017 Top Outstanding Young Americans Program! Part of Ken’s nomination package included the work he did here in the film program at VCFA. 

The Top Outstanding Young Americans program (TOYA) is one of the oldest and most prestigious recognition programs in America. Annually since 1938, JCI USA has sought out young men and women (under the age of 40) who best exemplify the finest attributes of America’s youthful achievers.

Every year, JCI USA recognizes the accomplishments of ten individuals who are truly outstanding, and 2017 is no different. Through an intense judging process, these ten individuals being honored as recipients of the JCI USA Top Outstanding Young American recognition are truly accomplished in their fields, in giving back to their communities. These ten individuals represent the best of the best and individuals we should strive to emulate in our everyday actions. Each Honoree has shown a commitment to that hope, reminding all Americans that no problem is too difficult when handled with grace, ingenuity, courage, and determination.

The JCI USA Class of 2017 Top Outstanding Young Americans Honorees include:

Caitlin Crommett, 23, Speaker/Trainer, CEO, DreamCatchers Foundation, North Hollywood, CA
Jane Cummins, 40, Founder/CEO, The HEART Program, Houston, TX
Chinh Doan, 27, News Anchor/Reporter, KETV, Omaha, NE
Senior Master Sgt Benjamin S. Garrison, 37, United States Air Force, Germany
Earl Granville, 34, Staff Sergeant US Army (Ret.) and Public Speaker, Scott Township, PA
Maggie Henjum, 31, Owner/Founder of Motion, St. Louis Park, MN
Sam Kuhnert, 25, Co-Founder, NubAbility Athletics, Tamaroa, IL
Kenneth Raimondi, 36, Producer/Director, Schertz, TX
Christopher Ulmer, 28, Founder, Special Books by Special Kids, Neptune Beach, FL
Senator Tony Vargas, 32, Nebraska Legislature – District 7, Omaha, NE

Keep up to date on Ken’s work at Story. Told. Productions and on his vimeo page.


Alumnus Jay Koski’s (’16) THE PEPIE LEGEND, to screen at FlyWay Film Festival

Alumnus Stewart Jay Koski’s thesis project, THE PEPIE LEGEND, was picked up for the FlyWay Film Festival in Pepin, WI (2017).

Full-time folklorist and book author Chad Lewis reveals a 150-year-old legend that continues to resurface in modern day. In an attempt to solve the puzzle of this long-sought legend a $50,000 reward has been offered for indisputable proof of this Midwest lake monster. Filmed entirely on location.

As a supplement, here is a fun little article about Chad Lewis and Pepie from the Lacrosse Tribune.

Congrats Jay!

Alumna Martha Gregory’s short, THREE RED SWEATERS, wins Best Documentary at Aspen Shortfest

VCFA alumna Martha Gregory’s (’16) short doc, THREE RED SWEATERS, has been screened at several venues this last year–winning Best Documentary at the 26th Aspen Shortsfest!

THREE RED SWEATERS features a documentarian exploring the way that we remember and record our lives through the lens of her grandfather’s breathtaking, Alex Colville-esque 16mm home videos. The Aspen Film website describes Martha’s work as “deeply personal yet universally relatable—particularly in the age of social media.” The award praises Martha, “this inquisitive director,” who “gives new life to what was once thought lost forever through the use of photographs and conversations.”

Athens International Film Festival
TIFF Bell Lightbox monthly shorts program
Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival

Fangle Magazine published a great article leading up to the Athens International Film Festival featuring Gregory. Here is an excerpt:

“Three Red Sweaters” is a film about how people’s memories may be changing with the ability to record every moment of their lives. Gregory said the idea began as a question for how memories and images, such as photos or film, influence each other.

Gregory said for this film, she interviewed a lot of people, friends – the cobbler in her neighborhood, other filmmakers – but found her most compelling story though her grandfather.

“He kept yearly family albums stuffed with his own photographs from every holiday, birthday, family event and non-event, every trip or vacation etc. and he had a trove of 16mm film he shot in the 50s, 60s and 70s,” Gregory said.

Gregory interviewed her grandfather many times over the course of a few months, but noticed deterioration in his health that pushed her to change her methodology.

“It became apparent to me that he likely wouldn’t live to see the finished film,” Gregory said. “I decided somewhere along the way to use only his 16mm footage as a way to deepen our collaboration and examine my questions through his footage and his experience as a man devoted to preserving memories through images.”

Like O’Shea, Gregory said that her love for film can be found in her formative years, as she started shooting in elementary school. But, Gregory enjoys film for the twists it brings into her life.

“As I’ve worked on other projects and formed a personal community of friends and mentors who are artists and filmmakers, the more social aspects of filmmaking and the fact that a film can be an opportunity for community building have reinforced my commitment to the art form as a way to explore our worlds, build connections and relationships and tackle relevant issues, ideas and problems,” Gregory said.

Going forward, Gregory has plans to finish a film on how feminism in Nicaragua is an effective tool against the dictatorship, as well as continue her role as film studio manager.


Alumnus Josh Kuory’s documentary, VOYEUR, premieres on Netflix December 1st, 2017

MFA in Film alumnus Josh Koury’s (’16) documentary feature VOYEUR will premiere on Netflix December 1st, 2017.

Koury co-directed VOYEUR with Myles Kane. VOYEUR follows Gay Talese — the 84-year-old giant of modern journalism — as he reports one of the most controversial stories of his career: a portrait of a Colorado motel owner, Gerald Foos.  For decades, Foos secretly watched his guests with the aid of specially designed ceiling vents, peering down from an “observation platform” he built in the motel’s attic. He kept detailed journals of his guests’ most private moments — from the mundane to the shocking — but most of all he sought out, spied on, and documented one thing: strangers having sex. Talese’s insatiable curiosity leads him to turn his gaze to a man accustomed to being the watcher, exploring a tangle of ethical questions: What does a journalist owe to his subjects? How can a reporter trust a source who has made a career of deception? Who is really the voyeur?

VOYEUR was Koury’s thesis film while attending VCFA. While he had shot much of the footage before embarking on his MFA, Koury credits the film program’s faculty for focusing his project and ultimately helping him complete the film.

We had the exciting opportunity to interview Josh and Myles about the film and will be posting our conversation with them next week. Stay tuned!



Jeff Bemiss’s documentary, MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY, makes the rounds

Current MFA in Film student Jeff Bemiss’s in-progress documentary, MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY, has been making the screening rounds these last few months! MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY is about a group of forensic scientists fighting against an interior immigration checkpoint that has turned a poor Texas county into a killing field. Check out more about this amazing film here.

Bemiss, with co-director Lisa Molomot, participated in Film Independent’s Fast Track financing forum in May 2017.  As Fast Track fellows, they presented their project to 60 film industry executives over the course of three days in Los Angeles. Bemiss writes, “it was an intense and wonderful experience, and the response to our film was strong. Our project is now being tracked by distributors, and we continue to have exciting conversations with some of the executives we met at Fast Track.” The team also participated in Film Independent Forum in October, participating in 60 industry pitch meetings and a screening of their work sample at the DGA theater in Los Angeles.

Additionally, MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY, was selected for “Spotlight On Documentaries” at the 39th annual IFP Week in Brooklyn, New York (September 17th-21st, 2017).

Congrats Jeff, we are excited to see where this project goes next!




Faculty Till Schauder’s WHEN GOD SLEEPS screens at IDFA

VCFA Film Faculty Till Schauder’s WHEN GOD SLEEPS is screening this week, November 16th-24th, at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. IDFA is one of the biggest documentary film festivals out there, congrats Till! We were lucky enough to get to screen this film at our residency this past October.

To learn more about the festival line up visit IDFA.

WHEN GOD SLEEPS official site.

After he addressed an imam in a song—which was taken as an insult—a fatwa was issued against the Iranian musician, poet, singer and activist Shahin Najafi in 2012. Calling for his death, the fatwa offered a $100,000 reward. He travels from Turkey to Germany and settles in Cologne, where he now lives in fear: “sleeping with one eye open and with a knife under the pillow.” Although Najafi is in constant danger, he continues to try to play music, even after most of his band members have quit—they’re just too scared to play. When he adds fuel to the fire by releasing a new song about male domination in the Islamic world, the fatwa is issued again—now with a $500,000 reward. Will he put his audience in danger if he goes on tour? Perhaps inevitably, this portrait of the “Salman Rushdie of rap” also covers issues such as terrorism, religion, repression, artistic protest and the refugee crisis.

Past WHEN GOD SLEEPS news and reviews:

Screen Daily: “When God Sleeps: Tribeca Review”

Salon: Interview with When God Sleeps Director

Rolling Stone: “Tribeca Film Festival 2017: 20 Films We Can’t Wait to See”

Hollywood Reporter: “23 must-see films at Tribeca”

Soren Sorensen’s MY FATHER’S VIETNAM screens at Oldcastle Theatre Company


Current MFA in Film student Soren Sorensen screens his documentary film MY FATHER’S VIETNAM at the Oldcastle Theatre Company in Bennington, Vermont, November 10th, 2017 at 6pm.

A personal documentary about a public subject, My Father’s Vietnam personifies the connections made and unmade by the Vietnam War. Featuring never-before-seen photographs and 8mm footage of the era, My Father’s Vietnam is the story of three soldiers, only one of whom returned home alive. Interviews with the filmmaker’s Vietnam Veteran father, and the friends and family members of two men he served with who were killed there, give voice to individuals who continue to silently carry the psychological burdens of a war that ended over 40 years ago. My Father’s Vietnam carries with it the potential to encourage audiences to broach the subjects of service and sacrifice with the veterans in their lives.

Watch the trailer below!