One of the Best Serialized Documentary Creators in the World

Zac Stuart-Pontier Explains His Approach to Storytelling Across Several of His Well-known Works

“There it is. You’re caught.” So begins the final scene of The Jinx, a show that ushered in the modern era of true crime docuseries yet hinges on this jaw-dropping 90 seconds of audio while the camera is trained on an empty room, holding space to listen to an apparent triple-homicide confession captured on a hot mic. It was a fitting triumph for a series shaped by a podcast. “Serial was a big inspiration for The Jinx,” says Zac Stuart-Pontier, who edited the show. “There weren’t a lot of serialized documentaries at the time, so for years we thought The Jinx was going to be a feature film. But, Serial came out while we were working on it and got us thinking about how we could break up the story.”

Stuart-Pontier had long been a fan of podcasts, so when he and producer Marc Smerling were discussing what their next project would be, he suggested bringing in Gimlet CEO Alex Blumberg to talk podcasting. Years before, Blumberg had interviewed a 17 year old Stuart-Pontier for an early episode of This American Life (Episode 173: “The Three Kinds of Deception”) and the two had stayed in touch. At first, they figured they could do an audio spin-off of The Jinx, using the hours of tape they had about Robert Durst’s trial for the death of his neighbor (which ultimately ended with [...]

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