Is the end of the Heston interview itself faked?

The Heston interview ends when Heston, figuring out that this is not a friendly fellow dropping by for a bit of filming, walks out. Moore pursues, and ends at the top of a flight of stairs. As Heston, below, walks away, Moore plaintively calls for him to come back and look at the picture of Kayla. The filming angle switches back and forth between shots of Moore's back and the departing Heston and Moore's front, as he holds the picture.

From an October 2002 interview:

Question: When you tried to hand him the picture, was that something you had to go back and do?

Michael Moore: No, we had a second camera.

The interviewer knows filming, and Moore is sensitive to what question would come next if he answered otherwise. How did he get two different, rapidly switching, camera angles if he had but one camera?

If you have only a single camera, there's only one way to do this. With camera behind you, film Heston walking away. Then, after he's gone, move the camera to a position in front of you, while you give your speech. Then splice the footage together to hop from back view to front view as if they were both filmed simultaneously.

Moore doesn't want to concede this, however. The interviewer might then ask some awkward questions about the ethics of filming yourself calling to a person who isn't even there.

So Moore claims he had two cameras at the shoot ... so that one cameraman could be in front of him, the other behind him, and film both views simultaneously.

There are a problem with Moore's version. First, the "back camera" peering past his left shoulder down the stairs doesn't show any cameraman in front of him, and the "front camera" doesn't show a camera peering past his left shoulder. Here's the shot from the front.

No "rear camera" over left shoulder. And this footage is taken from Moore's left front, about level with his chest. From the angle, the cameraman must have stood on the stairs, maybe two steps down. Now look at the back camera shot:

The back camera shows no "front cameraman" there. (To hide, he'd have to go prone on the steps, and then he'd be filming from below Moore's shoelaces -- you couldn't get the angle of the above frontal shot.) Also -- Moore's arms are cocked upward in the front shot, yet seem lowered in the rear one.

Now the front camerman might have gone prone when he knew the rear cameraman was to take over, and the rear cameraman might have ducked behind Moore when the front cameraman was to take the shot. But is this possible? The entire sequence is only 18 seconds long. The camera angle shifts from Moore's back to his front to his back to his front to his back again. Five perspectives, four changes in camera, all in 18 seconds. The first two front shots are barely two seconds long apiece. Two cameramen, without rehearsal, hopping up and down and coordinating all of that in 18 seconds without uttering signals or having a missed tenth of a second or camera shake?

Further,, there are no gaps when one cameraman is coming up and the other starting to hide (Remember, both cameramen must hide from each other, since neither front nor rear camera picks up the other).

The more logical explanation: the rear camera footage is the real footage from the event. After Heston left, Moore had the cameraman come around the front and film him holding up the picture of Kayla and making his plaintive requests to Heston to come back and look at it. Moore was actually acting a part then, his audience an empty backyard. He speaks his lines calmly, perfectly, no stumbling or mis-phrasing as happens when a person speaks spontaneously.

Reviewing the footage yet again, I'm left with a strong impression that the fakery here is even greater than it appears. Moore's voice never rises above the conversational level -- i.e., what we use when the other person is two or three feet away and facing us. In fact, it's rather low for conversation: he wants to sound like a very polite, nice, guy. Look at the distances involved. Could Heston even have heard Moore, speaking in that way at that distance? Heston hears something, because at one point he turns around. But is it the words, and in the conversational level, that we hear in the film?

The point: the entire scene of Moore dramatically showing the girl's picture to Heston may have been invented (or "greatly improved upon") in the editing booth. For all we can tell, Moore could have shouted "Hey!" to make Heston turn around and then remained silent as Heston left... then moved the camera to the front to film his re-enactment of showing the girl's picture and asking Heston about it.

How did the Heston interview come about?

Moore's first version has it that it was completely unplanned, he was opposed to the idea, and it was proposed by his film crew over his objection:

EW How'd you get that interview?

MOORE I had been trying for two years. I'd gone to his agent. I'd gone through the NRA. I'd shown up at places where he was and couldn't get in. I had given up on trying to get him. So we're in L.A. and the crew sees a star-maps sign and says, "Let's find Heston's house!" And I said, nah. And the whole van starts chanting "We want a star map! We want a star map!" So just to shut them up I say okay. And I'm thinking, No way, right?

Moore's second version of events forgets about the film crew and makes the Heston interview part of his plan:

"The reason we were in L.A. was because we went out to the gun manufacturer that made the Saturday Night Special that killed the little girl in Flint. So, I wanted to trace the gun back to where it was originally made. It was one of the ideas for the film that didn't end up in the film, but that's why we were out here shooting. And I had got that gun, the exact model and everything and I wanted to present the gun to him as a present. I don't want to threaten him with a gun because I don't want him to think he's got a gun pointed at him, so I'm just holding up in a paper bag and said, 'Mr. Heston, I also want to give you the gun, the same kind of gun that killed this little girl.' In the editing room, I just thought, 'That's harsh.' It's rough enough just watching what I'm already doing."

Actually, Moore has a third version, disagreeing with the second in claiming the California trip was to film the South Central LA segment:

"Getting Heston, I tried for two years to get him and I'd given up. We'd been in Los Angeles to film those parts in South Central and we'd checked out of the hotel and were on our way to the airport and passed by one of those star map signs. One of the people in the crew van said, "Hey let's get a star map and see if we can find Heston." I said, "No, let's just get to the airport; I just want to get to my seat."

The second version is more than a bit questionable -- no California gun manufacturer would transfer a handgun to a Michigan or New York recipient. Transfer of a handgun to a non-resident of the seller's state (other than to another licensed dealer) is a federal felony. A manufacturer has to keep detailed records of each sale, and the records are audited by federal agents. It'd be the equivalent of mailing a signed confession to federal agents, on an offense that carries a five-year prison term and termination of the manufacturer's license. (In fact, if this occurred Moore himself committed the felony of receiving a handgun from a nonresident of his own state).

The second version has other problems. When during the interview could that have occurred? At the outset of the interview, Heston is friendly, which he hardly would have been had Moore pulled the stunt. Heston is still friendly, albeit somewhat nervous, when the final sequence begins; between that and Heston walking out there are no signs of an edit. There's just no place for confrontation with the handgun to fit in. Yet Moore claims that it was filmed, he just decided to cut it out "in the editing room."

In my opinion, the evidence suggests that the second version is a tall tale, invented for no better reason than to impress one interviewer. He omits mention of the camera crew's coming up with the idea, claims the idea was his own (indeed, he had obtained the handgun just for it), adds in the claim he confronted Heston with the bagged gun, and then makes himself sound decent by claiming he omitted that footage after all.