The HBO film, "The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley," expires on March 19, following the rise and fall of the Silicon Valley-based company intending to revolutionize blood tests. (CNN and HBO share the parent company WarnerMedia.)
She was celebrated as a female founder's success story and often graced the cover of magazines. But the company was infamous about its supposed revolutionary technology and processes.
Given the secrecy of Theranos, it was not small business to obtain admission from inside the company. Gibney said his team was "sucking wind" long before finally landing 100 hours of recorded video, including advertising videos for Theranos directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris.
"We were able to find a number of people who leaked us recordings from inside the company, photos owned by Theranos," Gibney said in an interview with CNN Business at SXSW.
"It was Theranos that Theranos wanted to introduce himself," he added. "Very like Elisabeth's version of what it would have been like if you have a camera in the garage with Woz and Steve Jobs. I believe in its height of its delusion, they didn't even quite understand how bad it was but we could fortunately get it In that. "
Getting employees to talk was basically difficult, so his team sat down to talk to the journalists cheated by Holmes, Gibney said.
Holmes refused to participate in the film. But producer Jessie Deeter had a five-hour dinner with Holmes to convince her.
"She didn't give much, but what she transferred to Jessie was that she was the victim – not what she had done something wrong," he said.
Gibney, who has been investigating misleading people over the years, said he was not surprised.
"I believe many of these people who over promise and imagine that they can do things well beyond what someone else has done so far, they are obsessed with some delusional quality – some sort of narcissistic belief in their own powers," Gibney, "It's been, in a way, kind of inventory and trade: examining these characters because there's something wonderful about it." The documentary includes 3-D visualization of Therano's blood testers based on real-life images. The cringeworthy reproductions show what was happening inside, such as the spread of blood samples, based on details from previous employees.
When asked what was left on the coat floor, Gibney said they originally included an anecdote about an entrepreneur who had one very similar to the idea of Theranos back in 1920, which was also wrong.
"We stumbled upon a story we had in the movie for a while about a guy named Abrams who had come up with a unit called a Dynam iron, "Gibney said. "This was in the 1920s."
Dynamizer intended to take a single drop of blood on a piece of cloth and be analyzed for hundreds of diseases.
"But famous, he never allowed anyone to look inside the box and made a fortune until unfortunately someone died as a result of a misdiagnosis based on his device. And he was shut down. So it was interesting," Gibney said. "Did Elizabeth trolling for past inventors? I don't know."
The documentary film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January, was shown at SXSW last weekend.