How True Crime Documentaries Helped Erin Lee Carr Move Forward After Her Father’s Death

Her follow-up film, 2017's "Mommy Dead and Dearest," would further establish her niche in the true crime genre. The film told the story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who was convicted of conspiring to kill her mother after years of being the victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The case gained further notoriety this year when, in March, Hulu released "The Act," a critically acclaimed fictionalized version of the story starring Patricia Arquette and Joey King.

Carr has no interest in watching "The Act" and is conflicted about the project's existence.

"I spent my life figuring this out, and then somebody fictionalized it without the family's consent," she said. "I've heard good things about it, and they got incredible actors to do it. But I'm close to the family, and it's painful for them."

Carr said she likes true crime tales because she is interested in "demystifying motives", exploring culpability and holding power to account. She often mines for ideas in People magazine and on Reddit threads, seeking layered stories that often have to do with complicated women. Rossi, who has produced three of Carr's films, described her as having a strong radar that allows her to know which stories will "push the right buttons and penetrate the noise."

"I think that what I bring to a table, and how I pitch people now, is I will give you an empathetic portrait, a human rendering of something really terrible that happened," she explained. "I will look at it from all sides, and it will feel nonjudgmental. I think that so often filmmakers have such a point of view, but with my films, I don't know if you can really tell what I think."

'I HAVE TO COURT HER' With Carr's latest, "I Love You, Now Die," Nevins said she was impressed with how her protegee uncovered the human side of a young woman she expected to hate.

"I'd thought Michelle Carter forced her boyfriend to kill himself in his truck. And there are very few filmmakers who would have gone so deep to find an abused kid and not the murderous villain who was portrayed in the press," said Nevins, who is now leading MTV's nascent documentary division. "Erin finds something in these very strange, difficult people that is enormously human and compelling. She has a way of knowing we're all in it together, drunk or sober, evil or good. She's not without sorrow. She's not without evil thoughts. And that's helped her understand those emotions."

Nevins joked that she no longer intimidates Carr, instead, the young upstart scares her, mostly because she now has the ability to work with other top executives.

"She was, like, so accessible and now I have to court her," Nevins lamented. "She's very loyal, but she wants to work. She wants to have an apartment."

Carr said she's trying to overcome what she calls her "scarcity complex", saying yes to everything she's offered because she's worried each job may be her last.

She's been pitched some biopics on comedians, and friends wonder why she doesn't want to tackle something lighter, but she said she's committed to becoming "the best possible director" in the true crime space.

But if she wants to avoid her dad's fate, she knows she needs to be mindful of her health, going to the doctor when she says she will instead of blowing off the appointment for a shoot.

"One time, my dad asked me: 'What if you become more successful than me?' And I was like, 'I hope so!'" Carr said. "I think he was joking, but he was somewhat serious. Do I want to be equal to or surpass my dad, or is that a delusion? What is the ambition for?

"With the gymnastics documentary, I got one review that was a little tough. And one of the subjects told me: 'I'm in it. I suffered abuse and you helped me. Isn't that what matters?' She set me straight in this moment of ego. And I was like, 'Yes, that's what matters. Connecting with others as a result of work.' That is the privilege.

"Yes, I'm interested in money ... but is that really gonna impact my soul? I print out some of those emails and hang them in my office, because this is how I'll get better. Just in the way that I used to print out my dad's emails." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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