Back in the early 1970's, PBS broke ground on a new form of documentary making that would become the precursor to reality television today. An American Family featured the daily lives of the Loud family. It was the first time a film crew followed a family or anyone on a day to day basis, allowing for drama to unfold naturally. It was especially interesting since the aesthetically "perfect" family from Santa Barbara, California were in the midst of facing the divorce of the parents, Bill and Pat Loud, and the revelation that their eldest son/sibling Lance was gay. (The show candidly revealed the first openly gay person on television.) It was controversial back in the day due to such mature themes and profound topics that tested the concept of family on the cusp of a new decade as the cultural, feminist and sexual revolution churned.
HBO Films has produced a fictionalized behind-the-scenes dramatization entitled Cinema Verite, starring James Gandofini, Diane Laine and Tim Robbins. It might not be an actual telling of what happened when the cameras weren't rolling, but it will show a new generation who were either too young or not yet born, how the concept of fly-on-the-wall documentary became MTV's The Real World or The Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Cinema Verite will air in April.
Cinema Verite on HBO.