March 20, 2014

Steven Soderbergh Disses One of His Films & Explains Why Making It Was Good for His Career

Video thumbnail for youtube video Steven Soderbergh Dissing his Own Movie - No Film SchoolSteven Soderbergh, who has "retired from directing," has produced a number of films inside and outside the studio system, but regardless of the way any of them are funded, he is usually trying to challenge himself in some way with each movie he makes -- except when he didn't early on in his career. In a new interview with Criterion about the release of his film King of the Hill, Soderbergh disses one of his earlier films, The Underneath, and takes full responsibility for being mentally absent during the making of that movie. Check out the clip below (NSFW language):

And here he is talking about King of the Hill, which Criterion has released on Blu-Ray/DVD:

We don't get to hear this perspective very often (mostly because it doesn't bode well for future employment), but I'm sure it happens a lot more than we'd think. Filmmaking can become a job just like any other, and the most difficult thing about being above-the-line on a movie is that you're with it for years, so what you first liked about a project may be well in your rearview mirror by the time you actually shoot it.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have someone else foot the bill while we figure out what kind of projects we really want to make, but I think it's fascinating to hear a director be so candid about one of their films -- especially when they aren't happy with the result.

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18 Comments

But in all of his movies at times there's a feeling of moving too slow. The only that worked well throughout was The Limey---what a great movie!!

March 20, 2014 at 12:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

The only one? He's made a few well respected movies. Out of Sight and Sex, Lies & Video Tape are acknowledged as such.

March 20, 2014 at 6:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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markus

We all have different tastes. :-)

March 20, 2014 at 10:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

Whoa.. takes a big man to admit it, right? Steven - as always an inspiration

March 20, 2014 at 4:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Archie

Big, or a little self absorbed maybe.

March 20, 2014 at 10:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

He's doing an interview, saying things about himself and his work is sort of the point, dummy.

March 20, 2014 at 11:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Muh

You forgot to add, spoilt and moaner.

March 20, 2014 at 11:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mikey

He was my favourite contemporary director right up until that film about the strip club, I can't even remember its name it was that bad. It was bad all round.

March 20, 2014 at 11:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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It was probably way too deep. For you.

March 21, 2014 at 1:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Natt

Great post. But the rotating ads on the upper left box are annoying. They randomly play video and audio.

March 20, 2014 at 7:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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earnestreply

As brave as it may seem to be this honest about ones work, be careful of speaking negatively about your projects publicly. Films are a collaborative effort with many hard working people involved and to give bad press on one is to throw everyone else's work under the bus in order to save face.

March 20, 2014 at 8:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kevin

I also thought what he said was harshest on the actors and not himself. I don't think he thought of that.

March 20, 2014 at 11:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Gene

I definitely agree-- as in most things it's so easy to pass the blame on in a team project (bad script, bad film in conditions, bad equipment, etc). It took a project where everything went right, except me, to learn how to fail constructively and gracefully. Script worked, actors were great, wonderful team, well-produced, but I didn't rise to the occasion as a director. Watching the final project makes so proud of everyone else, but boy I shudder when I look at the choices I made. Best learning experience I've ever had! And not too deep a money hole...

September 26, 2015 at 7:31PM

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Sean Voysey
Creative Director
293

If you listen to the interview, he talks about the cast and crew, acknowledging their great work, and then taking full responsibility for the film's end result. Nothing he says here could really be harmful to a cast or crew member in my view. Their respective work is to be judged by watching the movie. Not by believing a director who talks about the movie, saying HE did not elevate the movie to its full storytelling potential.

March 20, 2014 at 11:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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What's great about Soderbergh is how he is willing to pull his pants down in public without worrying about PR. Remember how in school some teachers were much better than others? Well, he's one of those good teachers. He consistently imparts valuable information about what goes on in his head, has always freely admitted his flops, and has tried to figure out what went wrong. This is worth its weight in gold. Whether you like his movies or not is immaterial, since by all metrics he is one of our more successful directors.

March 21, 2014 at 9:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mike

He seems like the person that gets bored by things pretty quickly in filmmaking and personal life. It really shows.

March 21, 2014 at 1:08PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Natt

Good point. I didn't notice that, but I think you're absolutely right. Maybe that contributes to his success -- the last thing in the world you want is for your audience to be bored, so if you're sensitive to it and easily bored yourself you'll tend to keep your films moving, exciting, and interesting.

March 21, 2014 at 5:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Mike

Good stuff. Thanks for posting Joe.

March 22, 2014 at 12:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Martial Miles

Not enough people saw King Of The Hill. It is an excellent movie. Jessie Bradford gives one of the best child acting performances around. The Cliff Martinez main theme is timeless. It is my favorite Soderbergh movie.

March 24, 2014 at 11:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jake Jabbs