Director Roundtable: Van Sant, Tarantino, Lee, Hooper, Affleck, and Russell Discuss the Craft
You may have seen their films in the past, and it’s certainly possible you’ve seen the films they’ve made this year (or will), but it’s a rare sight to have so many great directors together in one room talking about the craft and some of the real things that affect them not only as artists, but as human beings. The Hollywood Reporter got Gus Van Sant (Promised Land), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), Ben Affleck (Argo), and David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) together to discuss their roles as directors and how it affects their work and the people around them. There is plenty of practical info, so it’s certainly worth checking out the entire hour-long interview below.
First here’s a trailer with a little bit of the discussion. There is a bit of NSFW language in the clip and in the longer roundtable, but it’s few and far between:
Here is the hour-long discussion:
There are a lot of great pieces of practical advice in the video. They are all at the top of their game in one way or another, and if there’s one thing that’s clear to me from listening to them, is that much of their success is about perseverance – simply moving forward and getting done what needs to get done in the face of adversity.
The advice about editing is particularly interesting to me, because it’s something I’ve had to go through as I edit my own films. A few of them talk about not wanting to remove even a minute of footage past a certain point where they feel like the story won’t make sense, and then in the end, the movie actually works a lot better after removing a significant amount. When I’m editing (or very close to the process), the best way I’ve found to get through it on the other side with better material is to remove myself as much as possible from the “artist” inside that wants to make this ideal film. Sometimes things just don’t work, or they are slowing down the movie, or maybe they just aren’t needed, but at the end of the day, in my experience, being precious about anything that’s been shot can really hurt the final product.
Be sure to check out the whole interview if you’ve got the time, Here was one particularly interesting bit about Tarantino and the film/digital debate:
THR: You’ve all had a lot of success. Are you afraid it will end?
Tarantino: No, not at all. But I don’t intend to be a director deep into my old age.
Russell: Wait a minute. That’s bad news for everybody.
Tarantino: I’ll probably just be a writer, or I’ll just write novels, and I’ll write film literature and film books and subtextual film criticism, things like that.
THR: In how long do you plan to make that change?
Tarantino: Well, part of the reason I’m feeling this way is, I can’t stand all this digital stuff. This is not what I signed up for. Even the fact that digital presentation is the way it is right now — I mean, it’s television in public, it’s just television in public. That’s how I feel about it. I came into this for film.
Affleck: Digital projection as well? ‘Cause film’s over. I mean, there are no film projectors in the country.
Tarantino: Yeah, and that’s why –
Russell: I won’t shoot digital.
Tarantino: No, I’m not talking about shooting digital.
Russell: Do you shoot digital?
Tarantino: No, I hate that stuff. I shoot film. But to me, even digital projection is — it’s over, as far as I’m concerned. It’s over. So if I’m gonna do TV in public, I’d rather just write one of my big scripts and do it as a miniseries for HBO, and then I don’t have the time pressure that I’m always under, and I get to actually use all the script. I always write these huge scripts that I have to kind of — my scripts aren’t like blueprints. They’re not novels, but they’re novels written with script format. And so I’m adapting the script into a movie every day. The one movie that I was actually able to use everything — where you actually have the entire breadth of what I spent a year writing — was the two Kill Bill movies ’cause it’s two movies. So if I’m gonna do another big epic thing again, it’ll probably be like a six-hour miniseries or something.
What do you think about Tarantino’s stance on digital? Do you feel the same way? What did you think about the discussion? What stood out to you and what did you find particularly interesting? Let us know in the comments.