'Looper' Writer/Director Rian Johnson: Budget Doesn't Affect the Fundamentals of Making Movies
Rian Johnson is one of the more fascinating filmmakers to listen to not only because he is a film geek and loves movies, but because he took a very traditional and then non-traditional path to success. After attending film school at the University of Southern California, he spent most of his 20s floating around Hollywood until he finally made his first feature, Brick. His third feature, Looper, is now in theaters, but last year he sat down with MakingOf to talk about screenwriting and directing, and some of the ways he approaches his work. Below is another interview with Johnson and his long-time friend and leading man Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Thanks to Scott Myers at Go Into The Story for posting this one:
Sending out the script to anyone and everyone is not an approach that most people take, but since the manager/agent thing didn’t work for him, he had to find a different way to get himself in front of people. He does make a great point, though, that you never know who someone else might know. Anyone can literally know anyone, and it’s impossible to predict who might like your script or where you script might get in front of. Most people seem to be worried about their script ideas being stolen, but I guess when no one wants to make the movie as-is anyway, it’s probably less of a concern.
One of the more interesting parts of the interview is that he talks about how the process of making films is relatively unchanged regardless of budget. This is something I’ve heard over and over again, and while I can’t confirm it as complete fact since I haven’t directed a movie costing millions upon millions of dollars, a lot of what goes into movies is about organization. Since scripts are broken down and scenes are shot in manageable parts, the actual process of filmmaking all comes down to how well your crew is working together. With a bigger film, the mistakes matter a lot less, however, since there is more money to throw at problems, but it’s interesting that he mentions that same idea in both of these interviews.
I think his approach to script breakdowns is also interesting, as he draws what he sees in his head, regardless of the quality. It’s important to have a good working relationship with your crew, and there’s no question that’s why he’s continued working with the same people over and over again. His humbleness is certainly appreciated, and his ideas about finding your voice are very important for anyone who wants to make a career out of filmmaking. Knowing what you want to do and what drives you can help sustain you creatively.
The DP/30 interview from David Poland has less practical knowledge, but still has some interesting moments:
As Rian says, he is very accessible, and there is a very active forum on his website. You can find that link as well as the other links below.
- Rian Johnson — Website
- Go Into The Story – Video Interview: Rian Johnson
- Movie City News – DP/30: Looper, Writer/Director Rian Johnson, Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt
- Looper — IMDb