3 Things The Creative Industry Can Learn From The Jinx

“The Jinx,” HBO’s documentary on suspected murderer and millionaire heir Robert Durst, was riveting television at its best. It had all the ingredients of good television – a capable filmmaker and storyteller in Andrew Jarecki, a quirky and engaging character in Bob Durst and a classic whodunit story not seen since the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.

Jarecki’s come under fire since the jaw-dropping finale for what some say was the manipulation of time and when some events actually occurred in the timeline. That aside, Jarecki’s film was a master class in story telling and execution. So, what can we in the creative industry learn from Jarecki and “The Jinx?”

Three things.

1) Research. Research. Research. Jarecki’s team’s investigative legwork was unparalleled and relentless. No stone was unturned, no question unasked, every lead pursued. In fact, the film directly led to Durst’s arrest and New York detectives and the District Attorney praised the director’s investigation at the time. If Jarecki had written a creative brief the main message would have simply read, “Bob Durst killed three people, talks to himself and belches when he lies.” Then, he went out and proved it.

2) Tell a good story. I was on the edge of my seat for six weeks and each episode left me wanting more. It’s not brain surgery – a fantastic story told with suspense and discoveries along the way. It’s a recipe as old as time itself.

3) Paint the picture. Supported by great visuals, that story came to life. Jarecki’s crime scene re-enactments were cinematic. He was criticized for glamorizing the crime, but simple shots of a house exterior with a single room light on, a deserted train station at night, a green garbage bag floating in a lake all added to the suspense. And the portrait shots of Durst made my skin crawl.

Jarecki’s uncovered evidence may never see its day in court and Durst may ultimately get off… again, but that was some fantastic filmmaking brought to life by the adherence to some simple rules of storytelling. And after all, isn’t that what advertising is all about.

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