Re: the new series "The World's Strangest UFO Stories":
In what may be the understatement of the year so far, Stan Friedman was "not pleased".
Neither was Don Ledger, who let go with both barrels on Strange Days... Indeed this past Saturday, and at UFO Updates last week (see his remarks here). Others have weighed in as well.
I haven't seen any of the episodes, nor do I intend to - I'm too busy making my own films.
No-one was more aggrieved than Stan, however, at least in part because Discovery, on their promotional website, initially ran a photo of Stan next to a caption that read "I had sex with an alien".
Agree or disagree with Stan on particular issues, but he deserves better than that (in fairness, Discovery, which I'm sure made a simple mistake, pulled the photo as soon as Stan complained about it).
Ufologists are understandably wary of cooperating with television production companies, because it's hard to know which ones are going to take the subject seriously, and which ones are not (a producer will never walk up to you and say, "hey, I intend to make you look like a complete loon"). As a prospective interviewee, however, there are ways to lessen the risk that you get a surprise when you see the finished project. I outlined them a while back at UFO Updates, in response to a post by Greg Boone. Here they are:
"Everytime you give an interview, you're taking a bit of a risk.
But there are ways to minimize that risk. Try the following (this advice may get me drummed out of the "evil producer's union" but what the heck):
a) first, ask any producer for a resume and a sample of his previous work on the subject (ie. UFOs). If this is his first UFO film, ask for a sample of his previous work on another subject - if he's treated them fairly, odds are he'll treat you fairly. Check his website (we all have websites). If he won't provide a previous film or a resume, walk away. If he doesn't have a website, walk away;
b) any legal paperwork (contract, release form) should include a clause to the effect of: "The producer will have complete editorial and creative control over all aspects of thefilm. The Subject / Interviewee (etc) will be given the opportunity to screen a fine cut of the film, and will have an absolute right to require changes only in the case of any factually inaccurate statements by the Subject, or by others as they relate to the Subject, or if any statements made by the Subject are taken out of context within the film" This is probably the best you can hope for, but it's better than nothing. If a producer won't oblige (and the above is a standard term in any contract we sign with a Subject), walk away (as most of Michael Moore's victims should have);
c) never answer any question you do not feel comfortable answering;
d) recognize that any answer you give longer than 30 seconds is likely to be edited, not always to your liking (although (b) above helps prevent your words from being twisted). A 2 hour lecture is a lousy idea. We'll ignore it. Keep your answers short and to the point. In television, soundbites rule. If you can't accept that, walk away;
e) always remember that every camera and microphone is potentially live, even when the little red light isn't on;
f) always check your facts beforehand - if you say something that's wrong, it's part of the record, you're stuck with it (although (b) above may give you an out), and you have no-one to blame but yourself when you end up looking like an idiot;
g) ask to see a treatment, or at least a one-page synopsis, of the film in advance;
h) before the interview begins, ask to take a look in the camera viewfinder to see how you're being framed - tight close-up, midshot, etc. If the producer or director won't let you, definitely walk away; and
g) remember that being "treated fairly" doesn't mean that the producer, director or the final film will end up endorsing or accepting your point of view."
I'm far from perfect, but I value my reputation for integrity. As a result, these are all rules that I follow without being asked, and I've never had an interview subject complain of how they were portrayed in a film.
I'm a big believer in the "do unto others as you would have them do unto you rule".
Anyway, I offer Stan's edited response, which he forwarded to me with permission to post, for your information. FYI - Guy O'Sullivan is with the production company that made the series.
From: "Stanton Friedman"
To: "Guy O'Sullivan"
Sent: Monday, April 10, 2006 9:38 PM
Thank you for sending this DVD. It is without a doubt one of the most inaccurate documentaries I have ever seen related in any way to UFOs. I have seen a lot. For this I wasted 2 days of my life? Obviously who ever put this together never read John Fuller's book "The Interrupted Journey" which is derived from the many months of weekly separate sessions that Betty and Barney Hill had with Dr. Simon. He didn't watch the NBC Special "The UFO Incident" with James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons, based on the book.
There is no mention of any of the supporting work such as the star map, no mention of the damage done to and analysis of Betty's dress, of the other sightings the same night; I suppose it would have been too much to expect that Betty's being a social worker for the state of New Hampshire could be mentioned or that Barney's being on the Governor's Civil Rights Commission could be mentioned, or that Kathy has been a teacher and a social worker or that I am a nuclear physicist.
There was no sex with an alien with either Betty or Barney. Tidbits were used totally out of context.
Doesn't anybody fact check there?? How dare you mix such a serious, in depth, investigation conducted by professionals over a very long period of time with the sexy stories having no investigation done? Has anybody looked at the outtakes to see what a hatchet job was done to this story? An apology is owed Kathy and I and the families of the others portrayed in such a false and misleading fashion.
An apology is owed to the viewers of this garbage. As a scientist I cannot stomach such a brazen and false mix of science and science fiction.