Errol Morris, Theranos, Alex Gibney discussed on The Frame



Some valley. Welcome back to the frame, I'm John horn. Now, let's get back to the documentary. The inventor from director, Alex Gibney, it's about Elizabeth homes and her blood testing company theranos Gibney also made going clear Scientology and the prison of belief, and I couldn't help but think of going clear when I watched the inventor and got a window into the us versus them mentality that became the company culture inside theranos, the them were competitors. Who also performed lab tests or anyone who doubted theranos in some ways it felt like a cult. It's the prison of belief is idea that you get locked in a prison. The the cell doors are open, but you never leave because you're so convinced in the mission, and I think that is is relevant here. You could see the company meetings. They were have they were like revival meetings. And it was always about measuring themselves not only to some great emotional goal, but measuring themselves against quest. And Labcorp fact one piece of footage that we were able to obtain shows them shows the CEO of the company sunny by Wani leading everybody in you cheer. And it's basically you to quest and Labcorp. Well, there are not many companies that lead their employees in. Cheers of you. And so that idea of the prison of belief was very powerful. And it's what cemented everybody together in a kind of cult like atmosphere in some people talked about that. I suspect you asked to talk to Elizabeth homes. She probably said, no. And yet there's an extraordinary amount of footage of her was that owing to her own narcissism. I mean, she shot herself. It feels like all the time. Right. So we did reach out to Elizabeth one of the producers on the film Jesse deeter sat with her for about five hours early on and tried to persuade her to go on camera to no avail, and she kept promising. Maybe you know, she she she kept thinking that when the company turns around, then I will talk to you that never happened. We were in a difficult position in terms of making the film because early on we didn't have many images at all of the company. I mean, we were locked out. But over time we were not only able to persuade people to come and talk to us. We can get into why they they were afraid initially. But we found a source inside the company who was able to give us hundreds of hours of footage of theranos filming themselves and it plays in the movie as if we had total access. It's very well shot. Yes. L great audience hired Errol Morris. Well, that's an interesting question. Because Errol Morris was hired to direct commercials for us. And Earl Morris is a fantastic documentary. Filmmaker how was it for you to actually have to because you have to include our Morrison this film, and he is a Peter. I don't know if he's a friend or a colleague, but certainly he's a great documentary filmmaker what was that like having to put into your film is very strange. I mean, I'm a big admirers barrels. And I think there's a lot of what I do that was inspired by Aeros kind of filmmaking. And so, you know, he's a he's a hero. Of mine in some ways that said he really did drink the Kool aid here, and I went to arrow, and I tried to get him to participate because I thought wouldn't that be great? I would interview Errol he could talk about having interviewed Elizabeth, but he said, he declined, and he said something very odd. He said, look, let's talk off the record. And he said for God. There is no off the record. And he can be a very unforgiving person. That's errol's brand of vintage sort of sarcasm and. So that was his response. So I was never able to get him to talk. But I I asked him I thought it would have been great. We're talking with Alex Gibney about his new documentary inventor among the board members of their noses, George Shultz who a former secretary of state, and this is where the story becomes a little Shakespearean because his grandson Tyler Schultz ends up working at theranos. And he's one of the people who recognize very early on that there's no there there, and he starts talking with the Wall Street Journal reporter about what's really happening in the company. So a couple of things theranos was incredibly secretive. You report in your documentary that they monitored employee's emails. Maybe strikes phone calls. How difficult was it for people to talk about what was happening, and how did they work against in and try to intimidate employees to make sure that they didn't reveal that nothing worked. Yeah. I think they always tried to couch that as we can't. Let you reveal companies trade secrets well, as it turned out, the companies trade secret was that the machine didn't work, but but under that rationalization of of prohibiting people from revealing trade secrets to competitors. They got very tough with people and one of the ways they got tough with people was by dispatching their sabertooth lawyer, David boies, he's the head of a firm called boies Schiller. And he was he got a bunch of stock in the company was also paid a lot of money was on the board. And later was on the board. And he intimidated people massively in early on when we were trying to get people talk to talk they were terrified of being sued by David boies, because many of them had signed these insanely protective and locked down in the as and I think going forward this country, hopefully will will begin to realize just how damaging the NDA is in terms of not protecting company secrets, but preventing anybody from talking honestly about fraud, and criminality and sexual abuse and other things, but in this case there they were being used to pressure people to shut up. And Tyler ultimately ended up having to spend or his family ultimately had to spend half a million dollars just fending off the legal advances of the legal attacks. I should say not advances of David.

Coming up next