Michael Apted is something of a chameleon of the film world: the 65-year-old director changes colours with remarkable facility.
On the one hand, he is a member of the Hollywood establishment - a Brit who has blossomed in the studio system and currently serves as president of the Director's Guild.
Alongside Stephen Frears and Mike Newell, he is also one of that generation of workaholic Brit directors who went to Oxbridge, trained at the BBC or Granada, and can seemingly turn their hands to anything.
Apted's filmography runs the gamut from James Bond to episodes of long-running UK television soap Coronation Street - and he is not ashamed of the range. 'Soderbergh has a wonderful line about that - there are two sorts of directors - people who have a style and find material to fit that style and directors who find material and find a way to fit the material...you can look at three or four of my films and you can't believe that that they were made by the same person,' he says.
There can be few British film-makers quite as prolific as Apted. This autumn, he has been helping launch his abolitionist biopic Amazing Grace, while overseeing the official film of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Apted, an ardent fan of UK football team West Ham United, is also working on another football project with British production company Reason Pictures and Pathe. The latter documentary tells six intertwining stories examining the social impact of the game across the world.
'The two clearest love experiences of my life other than women have been football and film,' Apted declares.
He was recently at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam to pitch is his latest documentary, Married In America 2. Like his famous 7-Up television series, this is intended as a documentary project that will study its subjects - nine couples - over several years. The first Married In America was made in 2001 and Apted intended to revisit his couples about every three years, before his original backers pulled out.
With documentaries, financing has invariably been a challenge.
Yes, he admits, Paul Allen of Microsoft fame financed Me & Isaac Newton and Inspirations. But he calls the funding a 'double-edged sword' coming from someone so wealthy.
He felt no need to recoup his money. With money that is hard got by, people work harder to get the money back - for the filmmaker that means the film gets out there.'
Married In America 2 was backed by Faith and Values Media and is being sold internationally by its subsidiary Lightworks Distribution. To his relief, the company left him to make the doc in his own way without pushing a religious angle.
The new film might be described as the antithesis of mainstream reality TV (which Apted once claimed 'offends every filmmaking bone in my body.')
Apted has his tricks for making his subjects open up on screen ('It doesn't work by just being Mr Nice Guy or by terrorising them.') He is always honest about his intentions as he probes at his subjects' relationships and he expects the same level of honesty back.
Whatever his difficulties in financing Married In America 2, Apted remains optimistic about the future for documentaries. 'Because the press and television has become so compromised by the Iraq War, the Republican Party, and the Bush Administration, you are now beginning to get much more truthful films about Iraq from independent documentary makers than you ever were from the press,' he declares.
ìDocumentaries, as long as they can be kept to a reasonable scope, can take advantage of the vast number of (new) outlets and niche markets. 'I am guardedly optimistic that documentaries won't have such a tough time as network television or movies are going to have, with their colossal escalating costs. Since there is such a vast demand for content, documentaries have a real chance to fill the vacuum.'