July 16, 2013

Check Out the Original Dirk Diggler: Watch Early Films of Paul Thomas Anderson

P.T. Anderson CroppedBack in 1997, a young writer/director named Paul Thomas Anderson (who had already directed the excellent Hard Eight, alternately titled Sydney) made arguably the best film about the porn industry of the 70s to be released, well, probably ever. Anderson was able to take what would seem to be such a sleazy topic and turn it into art with his superb command of camera, editing, and direction of brilliant performances. Click below to read the screenplay for Boogie Nights and watch some of his early films, including the original Boogie Nights, his short The Dirk Diggler Story, as well as Cigarettes and Coffee, his hard to find short film.

P.T. Anderson is famous for dropping out of NYU film school after about two weeks. He explains why:

My filmmaking education consisted of finding out what filmmakers I liked were watching, then seeing those films. I learned the technical stuff from books and mags, and with the new technology you can watch entire movies accompanied by commentary from the director. You can learn more from John Sturge's audio track on the Bad Day at Black Rock Laserdisc than you can in 4 years of film school. Film school is a complete con, because the information is there if you want it.

Over at Cinephilia and Beyond, they have the screenplay to Boogie Nights available as a PDF, and it's a great read. The idea that anyone would give a relatively untested director money to shoot an opus and ode to the L.A. pornography industry of the 70s is a testament to both the strength of Anderson's script, his persuasiveness (the man must be persuasive,) and the tremendous potential evident from his first film, the gritty little noir Hard Eight

Here's some footage of P.T. Anderson directing Boogie Nights, full of amazing footage of the long takes and great behind the scenes footage of Anderson working with his cast:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6esVhCa8XLk

While looking around for videos for this post, I happened across what surely must be a few exceedingly rare finds: The Dirk Diggler Story, AKA the first Boogie Nights. A 17-year-old P.T. Anderson wrote and directed the film, shot it on VHS, editing deck to deck. It also features a voice-over by his father, famed voice-over actor Ernie Anderson.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu4l6eC6_w8

And here's Cigarettes and Coffee, the 1993 short Anderson wrote and directed that marked his first collaboration with Baker Hall and served as the film that got Hard Eight made:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfk1b65lb-M

What do you think of P.T. Anderson? Do you agree with his comments on film school, and what do you think of his career trajectory, which is definitely getting more and more impressionistic with every film?

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8 Comments

Remember, there were two competing "John Holmes" themed projects at that time. The other one was "Wonderland" with Val Kilmer, Christina Applegate, et al. that came out several years later. PTA's film took a lot of liberties with the storyline and thus used fictitious names for real characters. "Wonderland" used the actual names and both films were taking the Laurel Canyon murders as the basis for their plot.

July 16, 2013 at 10:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

INcredibly valuable material. ANd I agree with PTA. And not to mention that youtube is key in gathering information and learning now. Awesome that the script is on ubuntuone!

July 16, 2013 at 11:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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maghox.fr

I'm a fan of "pizza and porno" interview that is on youtube.

July 17, 2013 at 7:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Natt

I just read the whole thing. It was pretty awesome. It's great how they tell you to avoid camera directions but he throws them all over the script, maybe because he's directing it, but anyway, I like it better that way, it's more cinematic.

Just a question, what are those references to 30fps about? What's the effect he's looking for?

July 17, 2013 at 3:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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maghox

30 fps is just referring to a video motion look.

Boogie NIghts is a time capsule but not
really a great work of art. Trippy shots...Novelty
Songs..and Weird Characters don't add up to much.
Hard Eight is pretty awesome though.

July 17, 2013 at 4:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sammy

Thanks

July 18, 2013 at 12:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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maghox.fr

Totally disagree. I think Boogie Nights is a masterpiece. Great writing and beautifully shot and directed.

July 19, 2013 at 2:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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David

Ah dang, did the first video get removed already? I was excited to watch that one cause we can see PT Anderson in action!

Is there another copy somewhere else we can watch?

February 22, 2015 at 6:04PM, Edited February 22, 6:04PM

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