This Fantastic In-Depth Documentary Explores the Making Of Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Magnolia'
Whether or not it's your cup of tea (or should I say milkshake?), Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia remains one of the defining films of the late 90s, and an important work in Anderson's career. Director Mark Rance documented the entire production in his film That Moment: Magnolia Diary, which, if you haven't seen it already, is now online in all of its 72 minute glory:
From PTA’s initial nervousness about the material to the final production meeting to candid moments with Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman on set, all the way to the press junket and beyond, it’s a fascinating watch.
There are a few sections that stand out for me. First, at around 7:06, Anderson table reads with the kids and adults in the gameshow. Working with kids is always tough, but Anderson is staying animated and engaging. I really appreciate (and identify with) his colorful language, and will to stop in front of them despite his clear pre-production nerves (demonstrated in full at 10:16). Admitting to everyone in the room that he has yet to write out the gameshow sequence in full is a good example of being honest and upfront with your team. It reminds me of another successful filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, and his interview with the American Film Institute concerning working with actor's -- namely, that they are incredibly attuned to human behavior, and you shouldn't lie to them.
Along these lines, I'm really appreciating the diner scene (the section "The Lamplighter" at 45:05), and Anderson's willingness to accept blame. That really speaks to his professionalism, and shows that when tested during long hours and sequences, he's still a pro, and has a great attitude. We've all had those long set days where we doubt ourselves, and it's nice to see that even larger budget productions, and directors, face similar challenges.
From a technical perspective, it's interesting seeing Anderson direct Steadicam Operator Guy Norman Bee at 38:20, as every director has their own quirks for describing motion to their operators and cinematographers.
Have you seen this doc before? What's your favorite scene(s)? Have any other behind-the-scenes documentaries you recommend?
Link: Magnolia -- Amazon