We sat down to listen to the directors of the new film ‘Becoming Warren Buffett’, Director Peter Kunhardt and his sons George and Teddy Kunhardt, producers. Here are some interesting highlights from an exclusive Q&A.
Q: Was there any resistance from family members in exploring Warren’s life?
A (Peter): Warren originally said he’d do it, but he didn’t have much time left, and wanted to use time as efficiently as possible, so we came out to Omaha for one time and filmed it and it went very well. Then we came back for a second interview and he softened up and gave us more and more time.
When we realized we wanted to talk to his family, he opened all the doors. No resistance. It was all our idea, and idea we proposed to HBO.
A (Teddy): When we decided to a film, Peter wrote a handwritten leader to Warren, explained our past and what angle we’d like to take, and he wrote back in a week.
Q: Did Warren reveal any personality traits or were there any answers that surprised you?
A (Peter): I think the questions he refused to answer were very telling about his personality. He does not bring emotion to the business table, but he is a very emotional man at other times.
Q: Has Warren seen the movie?
A (Peter): We sent it to him about two weeks ago. He picked up one typo; it was his only comment: “I think you covered some ground others haven’t, but when you list the total revenue of Berkshire Hathaway, you’re missing three zeroes.” He gave us carte-blanche to his personal archives, without screening them. He didn’t want anything very embarrassing.
Q: Can you tell about making this movie?
A (George): We wanted to tell a story about Warren the man, not Warren the investor.
A (Peter): We went into this thinking it was being told entirely in Warren’s voice, in his words. But after doing the first two interviews, we realized there were places he couldn’t go, we needed the chorus of other family and friends to fill in the context. He was very generous, he made it clear whatever we thought would be a good film, he’d be okay with it, he’d follow our lead..
A (George): He’s a good guy. When we spent time in Omaha with him, what you see is what you get. His mind is sharp as a tack. He told us about a letter Susie had written. We thought it was hopeless, but two hours later he came downstairs while we were scanning images and handed us a Xeroxed copy.
Becoming Warren Buffett premiers January 30 on HBO.