Journalist and BBC television presenter Louis Theroux, known for making documentaries that take the film audience inside controversial worlds says, "For years, I've been fascinated by Scientology." Over ten years ago he had asked the Scientology church if they'd be open to his making a documentary about the church. He initially thought he could bring an enlightening perspective to people's understanding of a faith that has been under scrutiny for years. He had done so with other reporting.
Theroux's style of journalism has influenced many over the years. got his start working with Michael Moore as a correspondent on the satirical magazine show TV Nation. Theroux later made his own how for the BBC2, Weird Weekends, about unusual American subcultures and continued his career using his writing and interviewing skills for film.
Theroux's informal and gentle questioning approach has allowed him entrance into the many lives passionate about the world they identify with such as: officers and inmates at San Quentin prison; extreme believers of the Westboro Baptist Church; the male porn performers of the San Fernando Valley; or, the staff at one of America's leading forensic mental facilities. Theroux digs deep to appropriately showcase the heart of individuals and why they choose to align themselves both in practice and belief with challenging world views.
Theroux has been repeatedly turned down by the Scientology church to showcase their organization for one reason or another. A few years ago producer Simon Chinn asked Theroux if he would be interested in doing a documentary for theatrical release on Scientology. Theroux hadn't thought about doing a film without traditional access to the church in documentary form. When forced to look at it the subject being presented differently, Theroux liked Chinn's creative impulse. It was an attractive approach. Theroux was in!
Chinn approached filmmaker John Dower to direct Louis Theroux's first feature documentary. He initially said, "No!" He wasn't sure if one could make a quality documentary without the lifeblood of such a film, the traditional access, going inside the church for critical information (the same question that haunted Theroux). Once the three began to collaborate on their options. A star documentary was born.
Theroux recognized that possibly the Hollywood way (enlisting professional actors to tell a story) was indeed necessary to capture the L. Ron Hubbard ideology and mission. After all, Hubbard had aspired to become a Hollywood Director. He was fascinated with the industry and it's people. Even today A-List celebrities continue to spread Hubbard's message. In spite of ex-Scientologists feeling that the original Scientology doctrine has lost it's way under the influence of David Miscavige.
Based on true accounts Theroux, Chinn and filmmaker John Dower reached out to former members of the Scientology church to tell their story by using professional actors to reenact documented experiences. They had no want for people coming forward. Theroux says, "A great piece of good fortune was in finding Marty Rathbun." He continues, "At one time he was one of the most senior executives in Scientology known as the Inspector General." Ruthbun was able to give the filming team insights of faith, apostasy and a revolutionary morality. His insights were fascinating to listen to and Theroux captures the very essence of Ruthbun's soul while he shares about his life inside the organization.
Theroux's journey in My Scientology Movie is truely an enlightening piece of work for the film audience. It's his film, one that has his stamp all over it. A good dose of humor flowing out of seriously concerning issues. Theroux, Dower and Chinn describe their theatrical production, "Material worthy of a Hollywood script, My Scientology Movie is as outlandish as it is revealing."