Where will you find every starlet who ever removed her clothes for the cameras, every axe-wielding, blood-sucking, teeth-baring monster, every passionate or sighing lover, every type of comic, character, hero and villain, and quite a few federal judges?
The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is in the film database IMDb which now includes an entry for a film called The Decade of Discovery. Its cast list includes at least seven federal judges and several others, like Jason Baron of Drinker Biddle, who have pushed at the frontiers of electronic discovery.
The first American film which I remember seeing at the cinema was How the West Was Won, which my father took us to see on its release in 1962. It covers several decades of the story of America’s expansion, and portrayed ultimate triumph over an endless succession of set-backs and disasters; the only scene I can recall involved a family being carried away downstream on a raft which is, I guess, a pretty good analogy for the pell-mell development of legal processes, lawyer skills and the technical industry which is eDiscovery.
Debbie Reynolds about to get sanctioned in a big way in How the West Was Won, with an imminent “turn over” which has nothing to do with documents. Note, incidentally, not just the technology, which has barely changed since Moses was a boy, but that the women are doing all the work while one man leans on the tiller and another lounges in the shelter.
Unlike the family on the raft, the business of eDiscovery has stayed afloat and is reaching the deeper waters and wider shores of information governance. America grew up with the movies and it is perhaps unsurprising that the story has now been turned into a film. It is directed by Joe Looby who, after a successful career at FTI (which is where I met him) has turned documentary filmmaker.
The trailer is here. We see Judge Scheindlin talking about Laura Zubulake’s case and how justice would have been entirely defeated but for the forced exposure of UBS emails. We are reminded that this goes further than the righting of civil wrongs and extends also into bringing governments to account. As I write, the UK news is covering a story about emails, not yet disclosed, which may throw light on Tony Blair’s decision to take us to war against Iraq. “Blair” is an anagram of “B Liar”, and I for one would check my watch if he told me the time. Discovery matters when you have people like that in government, and it matters the more as communication becomes almost exclusively electronic.
The Decade of Discovery receives its premiere on 21 June at the Manhattan Film Festival. It is perhaps premature to talk about How the Discovery West Was Won, but it will be interesting to see these leading figures in US discovery talk about the developments over the past 10 years.
I also look forward to the sequel. The technology has moved on from Debbie Reynolds’ raft – to pursue the boat parallel, we have probably reached the Robert E Lee by now, as speed and capacity has developed to manage the growth in volumes and the demand to get quickly from A to B.
What vessel will best represent eDiscovery for a sequel made ten years hence? More importantly, perhaps, who will be her crew? I would guess that the average age of the cast of Joe Looby’s film is probably a little to the north of my own, 60. Who will steer us down that broader river of information governance?