Frank Marshall on Directing a Dan Rather Documentary

Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award recipients Frank Marshall accepts the award at the 2018 Governors Awards in The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, CA, on Sunday, November 18, 2018. (Michael Yada/©A.M.P.A.S.)

Frank Marshall spoke with Solzy at the Movies on the red carpet prior to the world premiere of Rather during the 2023 Tribeca Festival.

Rather kicked off a busy Tribeca Festival for the filmmaker as it was one of three projects he directed or executive produced. The other two were The Fourth Wall and The Space Race, both of which Marshall executive produced. Following the premiere, Marshall joined Dan Rather in a conversation moderated by MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle.

Rather premiered to a packed SVA Theatre on Friday, June 9.

What was the genesis behind the documentary on Dan Rather?

Frank Marshall: Well, it’s complicated. As you know, we make a lot of documentaries. We were executive producers at the start of this journey with Jennifer and Joe, and then the pandemic hit. They had to make kind of change midway because of the complications from everybody not being in the same place at the same time. They asked me if I would direct the movie and certainly, I had signed on as an executive producer, because I grew up with Dan Rather and I’ve always found him a fascinating character. I love his sense of humor and I love how he’s always got a twinkle in his eye. I thought, well, this could be interesting for me as a filmmaker because it’s different than those music docs I make. How can I tackle this one because I had such a passion for his passion? Basically, he’s always wanted to just be a reporter. I thought how cool—his dream was to be a reporter and he’s accomplished that. He’s just a truth teller. That was why I decided I’m going to do this. I want to come in and meet the man.

Dan Rather in Rather
Dan Rather in Rather.

What are the biggest challenges of making a 90-minute documentary on this iconic newsman who’s had a very lengthy career?

Frank Marshall: Yeah. Well, the biggest challenge was what to leave out. I mean, there were many, many moments in our country’s history that Dan was at and I couldn’t cover because I was really focused on how Dan came to be there. There’s a lot of serendipity and luck. We both had our first jobs in Texas. He was in Galveston as a weatherman and I was in Archer City as a location manager on The Last Picture Show. Our careers, in a funny way, have kind of paralleled in interesting ways, being in the right place at the right time. But the biggest challenge, I just said, is tons and tons of archival footage, what do we use, those choices, all the people in Dan’s life, and how do we encapsulate that into one movie. It’s really choices, but hopefully, I made the right ones.

Thank you again.

Frank Marshall: Okay, good to talk to you.


Frank Marshall: Hope to see you soon.

Rather held its world premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival in the Spotlight+ section.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.