Judd Apatow took on the daunting task of telling the life story of late standup great George Carlin, one of his childhood heroes, in “George Carlin’s American Dream.” But beyond the jokes Carlin told, there was an inherent philosophy to his often sharp observations that resonated with Apatow.

“He just talked about how the game was rigged, and he was just going to watch from a distance and laugh as the world burned. Part of what we were trying to explore was, did he mean that?” Apatow explained during the Outstanding Documentary panel at Variety‘s Virtual TV Fest: The Nominees. “He would end his shows by saying, ‘Take care of yourselves, take care of each other.’ I think that’s really what I took from it, that underneath all that darkness was somebody who was disappointed in humanity. He wanted us to fight harder to take care of each other, and that was really the point of all of his work.”

Apatow was joined by fellow documentary directors and producers Joe Lewis of “100 Foot Wave,” Samantha Stark of “The New York Times Presents: Controlling Britney Spears,” Justin Wilkes of “Lucy and Desi” and Katie King of “We Need To Talk About Cosby” in a panel moderated by Variety senior Artisans editor Jazz Tangcay.

On the contrary, King’s efforts in the Cosby documentary sought to unravel the unsettling stories behind the once-celebrated comedian’s long history of misconduct and assault.

“I think the single most rewarding was just the response of the survivors… to give them a platform,” King explained. “Some of them had spoken before in other things, but it was always reduced to a quick soundbite, or just a little bit of their story, and so we felt like it was very important to give them a lot of space, to not cut away from them.”

With “100 Foot Wave,” Lewis discussed the advantages of working within the documentary medium: “It’s just the most relentless, endless thing you can do, and I just love process and I love going over the same thing over and over, and it’s the only thing I can relate to what it must feel like to be in the barrel of a big wave for a few seconds. But our version, we get to stay in it for months or even longer, and there’s that part of it that I just haven’t found in any other medium.”

Stark talked “Controlling Britney Spears” and shifting preconceived notions people may have about a certain person: “To me, telling these stories where there’s a certain narrative that people have, and by the end of watching it, that narrative is reframed, and no matter who you are, you can relate to the person more, is really why I do this.”

Wilkes shared insight into producing on Amy Poehler’s “Lucy and Desi,” and discovering new wrinkles to the pair’s everlasting identity: “The part that I knew very little about is just what an impact both of them had on the industry as a whole, which again, wasn’t something that they would outwardly talk about even on their show, but they ran a huge studio that was responsible for so many other television shows of that time. They created a syndication model. They really were in so many ways, the pioneers of TV as we now know it.”

Watch the full conversation above.