Charles Ferguson (filmmaker)

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Charles Ferguson
Charles Ferguson (Representational Pictures, Inc.).jpg
Ferguson in New York, on April 19, 2012
Charles Henry Ferguson

(1955-03-24) March 24, 1955 (age 64)
Alma materMIT (PhD)
University of California, Berkeley (BA)
OccupationFilm director, film producer, entrepreneur, writer

Charles Henry Ferguson (born March 24, 1955)[1] is the founder and president of Representational Pictures, Inc., and director and producer of No End in Sight: The American Occupation of Iraq (2007) and Inside Job (2010),[2] which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.[3] Ferguson is also a software entrepreneur, writer and authority in technology policy.

Early life and education[edit]

A native of San Francisco, Ferguson was originally educated as a political scientist. A graduate of Lowell High School in 1972,[4] he earned a BA in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1978,[5] and obtained a PhD in Political Science from MIT in 1989. Ferguson then conducted postdoctoral research at MIT while also consulting to the White House, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Department of Defense, and several U.S. and European high technology firms. From 1992–1994 Ferguson was an independent consultant, providing strategic consulting to the top managements of U.S. high technology firms including Apple Inc., Xerox, Motorola, and Texas Instruments.


Early career[edit]

In 1994, Ferguson founded Vermeer Technologies, one of the earliest Internet software companies, with Randy Forgaard. Vermeer created the first visual website development tool, FrontPage. In early 1996, Ferguson sold Vermeer for $133 million to Microsoft,[6] which integrated FrontPage into Microsoft Office.

After selling Vermeer, Ferguson returned to research and writing. He was a visiting scholar and lecturer for several years at MIT and Berkeley, and for three years was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. Ferguson is the author of four books and many articles dealing with various aspects of information technology and its relationships to economic, political, and social issues. Ferguson is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a director of the French-American Foundation, and supports several nonprofit organizations.

Film career[edit]

For more than 20 years, Ferguson had been intensely interested in film, and regularly attended film festivals such as the Telluride Film Festival for over a decade. In mid-2005, he formed Representational Pictures and began production of No End in Sight, which was one of the first feature-length documentaries on post-war Iraq.

No End in Sight won a special jury prize for documentaries at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 in the documentary feature film category. Ferguson also received a nomination for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Documentary Screenplay for the film.[7]

Inside Job, a feature-length documentary about the financial crisis of 2007–2008, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2010[8] and the New York Film Festival and was released by Sony Pictures Classics in October 2010.[9] It received the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Ferguson credits narrator Matt Damon for contributing to the film, specifically the structure of the ending, in addition to his narration duties.[10]

On May 1, 2011, The New York Times reported that Ferguson had agreed to make a film about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for HBO Films.[11] According to the IMDb the film is scheduled for release in 2013.[12] But that project was mothballed.[13]

On September 30, 2013, Charles Ferguson wrote on the Huffington Post[14] that he would be cancelling his CNN documentary on Hillary Clinton due, not just to pressure from the Clintons and their allies, but also from the Republican Party, to stop pursuing the project. In the article Ferguson lamented that "nobody, and I mean nobody, was interested in helping me make this film. Not Democrats, not Republicans – and certainly nobody who works with the Clintons, wants access to the Clintons or dreams of a position in a Hillary Clinton administration." In a June 2013 interview with former President Bill Clinton, Clinton told Ferguson that he and Larry Summers couldn't change Alan Greenspan's mind about the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which deregulated derivatives and helped fuel the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent Great Recession.[15] Congress then passed the Act with a veto-proof supermajority. Ferguson thought Clinton was "a really good actor" and that this was a lie, actually, Ferguson wrote, the Clinton Administration and Larry Summers lobbied for the Act and, along with Robert Rubin privately attacked advocates of regulation.[14]

Ferguson directed the first major documentary about the Watergate Scandal.[16] Entitled Watergate, the 260-minute film had its European premiere at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival.[17][18]

Works and publications[edit]

  • Computer Wars: The Fall of IBM and the Future of Global Technology. with Charles R. Morris. Three Rivers Press. 1993. ISBN 978-0-8129-2300-1.CS1 maint: others (link)
  • High Stakes, No Prisoners: A Winner's Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars. W. W. Norton & Company. 1999. ISBN 978-1-58799-065-6.
  • The Broadband Problem: Anatomy of a Market Failure and a Policy Dilemma. Brookings Institution Press. 2004. ISBN 978-0-8157-0644-1.
  • No End in Sight: Iraq's Descent into Chaos. PublicAffairs. 2008. ISBN 978-1-58648-608-2.
  • Predator Nation. Crown Business. 2012. ISBN 978-0307952561. This is a companion to the movie Inside Job, providing citations for many of the claims in that movie.



  1. ^ California Births, 1905–1995, Charles Henry Ferguson
  2. ^ "Inside Job (2010)". The New York Times.
  3. ^ The Los Angeles Times
  4. ^ Terence Abad (Winter 2008). "Caught in the Headlines" (PDF). Lowell Alumni Association. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 19, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
  5. ^ "Haas NewsWire, March 15, 1999". Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. March 15, 1999. Archived from the original on April 16, 2011.
  6. ^ How filmmaking is like launching a start-up | Tech News on ZDNet Archived December 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Thielman, Sam; McNary, Dave (February 9, 2008). "Cody, Coens bros. top WGA Awards". Variety. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  8. ^ Hill, Logan (May 26, 2010). "Is Matt Damon's Narration of a Cannes Doc a Sign that Hollywood is Abandoning Obama?". New York magazine Entertainment blog. Retrieved May 16, 2010.
  9. ^ "At Cannes, the Economy Is On-Screen" by Manohla Dargis, The New York Times, May 16, 2010 (May 17, 2010 on p. C1 of NY ed.). Retrieved 2010-05-17.
  10. ^ "Charles Ferguson Makes Fat Cats Squirm, Globe & Mail". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. August 23, 2012.
  11. ^ "Ferguson to Direct Film About WikiLeaks Founder, New York Times". The New York Times. May 1, 2011.
  12. ^ "Untitled Wikileaks/HBO Project (TV 2013)". IMDb. May 23, 2013.
  13. ^ Steve Rose (July 9, 2013). "WikiLeaks documentary: 'Julian Assange wanted $1m'". The Guardian. Retrieved July 20, 2019. This article was amended on Wednesday 10 July 2013. The original article said director Charles Ferguson is working on a WikiLeaks documentary. We have since found out that the project has been put on hold.
  14. ^ a b Ferguson, Charles (September 30, 2013). "Why I Am Cancelling My Documentary on Hillary Clinton". Huffington Post. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  15. ^ Alan S. Blinder, Alan Blinder: Five Years Later, Financial Lessons Not Learned, Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2013
  16. ^ Alex Ritman (June 2, 2019). "Rethinking Watergate in the Trump Age With New Documentary". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  17. ^ Geir Moulson (February 12, 2019). "Watergate in full: Epic documentary shows at Berlin fest". The Seattle Times. AP. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  18. ^ Tom Grater (January 18, 2019). "Dogwoof picks up international sales to political docs 'Watergate', 'Meeting Gorbachev' (exclusive)". Screen Daily. Retrieved July 20, 2019.

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