Six rules for filmmaking from Mike Nichols
1. The careful application of terror is an important form of communication.
2. Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting dirty for.
3. There’s absolutely no substitute for genuine lack of preparation.
4. If you think there’s good in everybody, you haven’t met everybody.
5. Friends may come and go but enemies will certainly become studio heads.
6. No one ever lost anything by asking for more money.
~ Via Larry Karaszewski and Howard A. Rodman On Facebook
“I expected ‘Salesman’ to take the step backward every day that Chekhov and Beckett did — but no, it was there to help all the time. The circumstances are like a brick shithouse, they are so solid. You can’t really be satisfied, but I am pretty close to it because the cast took it and ran. They get better every day. I’ve never seen anything like that before, and I don’t know if I’ll ever see it again. Is my ambition sated? I don’t know. To get something right, it can’t be sated because you can’t ever get enough of it right—and even if it is right, it won’t stay right. That’s the thing about a play. But with ‘Salesman,’ it’s different. I don’t know how, but they just keep getting better each night. I really don’t think I’ll direct another play. This is as good a time as I’ve ever had, and I don’t want to fuck it up.”
~ Mike Nichols To Stephen Galloway At The Time Of “Death Of A Salesman”
INTERVIEW: What’s the last movie that made you cry?
RODRIGO PRIETO: The Broken Circle Breakdown.
INTERVIEW: Oh the Belgian one? That movie was devastating.
RODRIGO PRIETO: Yeah, I love that movie. Sometimes I cry while shooting, while operating the camera. I can think of two examples. One was in Amores Perros, when the character that has all these dogs–he’s a killer for hire–and he leaves a message for his daughter on the answering machine. When we shot that the actor was looking at a photograph of his actual daughter and in fact, that photo that you see in the movie of the little girl, is his daughter. The girl that’s he’s following, that you just see fleetingly, is his daughter. When he leaves that message, he got really touched. Of course, I have two daughters and it really touched me as well. It’s all about him wanting to be more present, which is something that happens in this career that I picked, which is very intense and time-consuming, and there are a lot of times when I’d like to be with my daughters more and I haven’t been able to. So it made me cry. The second time was in 21 Grams, when we were shooting Naomi Watts listening to the message that her husband left right before they were run over by a car. Hearing the little girls–at that time my girls were little–her listening to it over and over, I was bawling.
~ Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto
“Two words: devotion and love. The very medium of documentary offers us the opportunity to make real the biblical expression asking us to love our neighbor. It gives us the knowledge of our neighbors far and wide. Knowledge by which we can love our neighbors.”
~ Albert Maysles
“I have no idea who sees my films. I hope they’re seen by a wide variety of people, god forbid only by intellectuals and film scholars. That being said, they do have a small audience. I make a living out of a combination of things. I try to make close to one film a year; I own those films so if they have any residual value, I get it; and I give talks at universities, American ones in particular, because you get paid very well for talking about your movies. You make more from talking about them than actually making them. It’s really a shame you have to make them in order to talk about them. Though, of course, that’s not true of film critics.”
~ Frederick Wiseman
“We say: ‘Give us some money, we don’t know what it is going to be about, we will not discuss casting, and you will see the film when it is finished.’ And only one of two things happens; either they say ‘great, here’s the bread?’ or they say ‘fuck off.’ And when that happens, we don’t make the film—that has happened a lot. [The studios] are motivated by insecurity, fear, lack of imagination and above all, a lack of flair.”
~ Mike Leigh Likes Just Where He’s Sitting, Thank You
“Inherent Vice, for all its bravado and wit, stands or falls apart on Katherine Waterston’s slender shoulders. On the page, Shasta Fay is your classic femme cipher, believable to the extent of Doc’s need to project his longings onto her. Waterston, working in two slow-burning, aria-like monologues of affectionate calculation and uncertain, highly compartmentalized motives, turns a threadbare archetype into someone painfully real and poetically resonant. Her tour de force seduction of Doc, mostly performed while naked, uncorking a slow drip of role-playing, self-revilement, vulnerability, and desperate control that’s indistinguishable from nihilistic abandon, expresses more about sex as a weapon and a survival strategy than a thousand footnoted treatises on the femme fatale in film noir. It’s everything Anderson couldn’t yet get on film in Boogie Nights; like Doc, Anderson and Phoenix are just along for the ride, besotted and overcome. It’s the most despondently sexy scene you can imagine, but its power—Waterston’s power and the human weakness within it—comes from how honestly she conveys the eternal allure of the truly, emphatically fucked-up. Despondency, black humor, and fantasy all converge like these were the last two contestants (or three if you count Anderson) in an erotic demolition derby—winner take cover.”
~ Howard Hampton Is Brought To Words By Inherent Vice‘s Katherine Waterston
“It’s been a while since somebody has come out with such a big vision to things. Even the elements, the fact that dust is everywhere, and they’re living in this dust bowl that is just completely enveloping this area of the world. That’s almost something you expect from Tarkovsky or Malick, not a science fiction adventure movie.”
~ Quentin Tarantino On Interstellar
“This has become a witch hunt–and it has everything to do with how we view women like Dunham… Dunham’s accomplishments are what feminists should want women to aspire to: she is the writer, director and star, making art about women, from a woman’s point of view, in an industry that is still dominated by men. She doesn’t represent all women—and she shouldn’t have to. But she is willing to say what many other high-profile women won’t (at least not publicly). Yes, she has a voice that creates controversy. Yes, she makes people uncomfortable… Like her, don’t like her. Watch ‘Girls,’ don’t watch it. But let’s not forget: There is room for more women than Lena Dunham at the top.”
~ On Lena Dunham
“The city to me is the only possible vehicle we have to measure human achievement. We’re an urban species now. If you look at Karachi or Mexico City or Hong Kong or London or New York or Yonkers or Baltimore or any of these other places, the pastoral is now a part of human history. We’re either going to figure out how to live together in these increasingly crowded, increasingly multi-cultural population centers or we’re not. We’re either going to get great at this or we’re going to fail as a species.”
~ David Simon
“I wondered how different it would be to write a novel and it’s totally different. It’s very internal. The weird thing about it is that I found that novel-writing was much more like directing than it is like screenwriting. You’re casting it, you’re lighting it, you’re doing the costumes, you’re doing the locations, you’re doing it all yourself as a director would. In screenwriting, you don’t do that stuff. You don’t describe the face of the actor or the character when you’re writing a screenplay because Tom Cruise is going to do it and he doesn’t look like that, whereas in the novel to describe what he is is what he is. The actual act of writing, just like shooting on a set, is a slow slog. It’s going to work every day.”
~ David Cronenberg On Screenplay vs. Novel
“I was fortunate to be in the two big film epics of the last part of the 20th century: Godfather and “Lonesome Dove” on television, which was my favorite part. That’s my “Hamlet.” The English have Shakespeare; the French, Molière. In Argentina, they have Borges, but the western is ours. I like that.”
~ Robert Duvall
“He’s not one of my heroes. He doesn’t touch me or inspire me. There are so many people who inspire me, so many people who touch my heart. It doesn’t matter if he’s not a hero of mine. It doesn’t matter if I don’t tell the whole world how honoured I am to share a prize with a man who made somebody play with words over the years. He’s a hero in cinema historically, but he’s not a personal hero of mine. Jean-Luc Godard did this press release and he mentioned he would never go and see Mommy in theatres because he already knew what Mommy was about: another ‘TV movie’ and that nowadays everything is predictable. He’s this old grinchy man. He’s the grinch from Switzerland in the mountain. Deaf, blind, smoking, literally. Basically being provocative about everything.”
~ Xavier Dolan On Jean-Luc Godard
“It is significant that Flynn began as a writer for Entertainment Weekly, the Time Inc. periodical that did its best to create an audience of non-thinking fanatical consumers. Frequently annexing its journalist mission to the promotion of the Oscars and Emmys, EW mixed tastelessness with a tradition of degraded values—laying ground for today’s venal, trivia-obsessed media culture. This sensibility is everywhere apparent in Gillian Flynn’s male-female relations, which smack of pop-therapy literature, violent potboilers and sensationalist tabloid media. Flynn teaches a lesson to both Nick and Amy, as if they were prototypes for the great unwashed, through their scandalous courtship rituals tied up with ideas of middle-class avarice. Each lover’s greed and possessiveness exploits the other. This is consistent with EW’s formula, which is so cynical it always presents itself as “smart”—that’s advertising code for suckers, deceptive millennial self-flattery, thus typical Fincher material.”
~ Harmin’ Armond Speaks Of America From His Perch At Nat’l Review Online
“In the end, whatever is done more cheaply will win. The digital world is appealing to producers on so many levels. This sounds more cynical than I mean it to, but what is lost? What do most people care? All in all, movies are a pretty disposable medium. There are films we all know and love that survive, but for every one of those, there’s a thousand that none of us has ever heard of or seen, and never will. I think that in the end, things that are worth preserving will get preserved, whether it’s films or books or pictures or paintings. Whatever the medium, when people decide something is worth keeping, they will find a way to keep it.”
~ Cinematographer John Lindley on Digital’s Impact on Archival Longevity
“There comes a wonderful point when you just don’t give a fuck anymore what everyone thinks because you’ve had so many reactions that you can’t absorb anymore. You’ve read so many reviews you can’t absorb anymore. But the first ones you really want to know because it’s your first articulation of a response to the movie. I mean you sit with a couple of audiences. This was my first audience last night. I’ll sit with a couple more. But the first responses that tell you why they felt the way they did are always the first reviews. Now, you don’t know if it’s really a review or some Twitter—it’s all from journalists here, so at least there’s that. How legitimate the journalists are, how good the critics are these days, as you know, it’s kind of an iffy proposition. You get a sense of it. I’m still at the stage where I’m interested in what people have to say. And you do weed out the ones where the writing is really bad and they can’t spell and you usually just sort of dismiss those.”
~ David Cronenberg, From Cannes, To Nigel M. Smith
“Look, there’s some wild, funny weird and silly shit that happens in some of these movies, and it’s okay to laugh. But laugh because it’s funny—don’t laugh because you’re just trying to show how superior you are to the movie. You get no points for laughing at an old movie just because it’s old. You look like an idiot.”
~ Quentin Tarantino to Amy Nicholson about the New Beverly
DEADLINE: How does a visualist feel about people watching your films on a phone or VOD?
REFN: It depends on what kind of movie you make. We had great success with Only God Forgives on multiple platforms in the U.S. Young people will decide how they see it, when they want to see it. Don’t try to fight it. Embrace it. That’s a wonderful opportunity. We’re at the most exciting time since the invention of the wheel, in terms of creativity because distribution and accessibility have changed everything. A camera is still a camera whether it’s digital or not; there’s still sound; an actor is an actor. Ninety-nine percent of what you do is going to be seen on a smart phone – I know this is the greatest thing ever made because it allows people to choose, watching what you do on this format or go into a theater and see it on a screen. That means more people than ever will see what I do, which is personally satisfying in terms of vanity. But you have to be able to adapt, to accept things in different order and length than we’re used to. We are in a very, very exciting time.
~ Nic Refn to Jen Yamato
DEADLINE: You mention Tarantino, who with Christopher Nolan and a few other giants, saved film stock from extinction. To him, showing a digital film in a theater is the equivalent of watching TV in public. Make an argument for why digital is a good film making canvas.
REFN: Costwise, it’s a very effective way for young people to start making movies. You can make your movie on an iPhone. It’s wonderful seeing how my own children use technology to enhance creativity. For me it’s a wonderful canvas. Sure, I love grain in film. I love celluloid. But I also like creativity. I like crayons, I like pencils, I like paint. It’s all relative. Technology is more inclusive. A hundred years ago when film was invented, it was an elitist club. Very few people got to make it, very few people controlled it and very few people owned it. A hundred years later, storytelling through images is everyone’s domain. It’s ultimate capitalism. There are no rules, and no barriers and no Hays Code. Where does this go in another hundred years? I don’t know but I would love to see it.
~ Nic Refn To Jen Yamato
“None of this would work without Jeffrey Tambor’s beautiful performance as Maura. There has always been a gentleness at the heart of his acting, even when hamming it up on ‘The Larry Sanders Show ’ or not touching on ‘Arrested Development.’ But here he’s simply transcendent, capturing the sweetness and terror of a woman presenting her true self for the first time. In an early episode, when visiting the apartment of a woman in her support group, Maura moves from room to room with the wonder of a child. She touches every dress, examines every piece of furniture. It’s a radical and deeply empathetic glimpse of the blurry line between self-creation and self-actualization. Maura has been alive for 70 years but is in many ways a newborn. She’s desperately fragile. She’s incredibly brave.”
~ Andy Greenwald Lavishes Love On Jill Soloway’s Amazon Series, “Transparent”