It's hard to believe that it's been 20 years since PTA broke onto the scene with San Fernando Valley Porn Industry epic Boogie Nights. Since then he's released many artistically driven movies, often nominated for and winning major awards. As the industry has shifted away from the indie-scene of the 1990's, PTA's voice has endured.
According to Indiewire, he gave some advice to John Krasinski, director of last years breakout A Quiet Place, about how artful movies such as his survive or won't.
Krasinski said that he was talking to Anderson about a movie he'd seen recently and said: "It's not a good movie."
Krasinski went on, "He [PTA] so sweetly took me aside and said very quietly, 'Don't say that. Don't say that it's not a good movie. If it wasn't for you, that's fine, but in our business, we've all got to support each other... You've got to support the big swing. If you put it out there that the movie's not good, they won't let us make more movies like that."
John Krasinski clarified that the movie in question was something artsy, which qualifies some of PTA's statement.
The question this leaves us with is are indie art-house movies in such danger that we're not allowed to dislike them vocally anymore? It does seem more and more that the tentpole release guides the industry, the smaller quirky dramas are harder to come by. The big swings are barely taken.
On the other hand, is it fair to ask other filmmakers to hold their tongue? It almost seems a tad defensive on Paul Thomas Anderson's side, as the maker of so many polarizing big swing types of movies. When you consider what the average Anderson film costs to make, what it brings in, and how much it stands in contrast to the rest of the way the industry works these days, you wonder how much this advice was motivated by self-preservation.
Anderson wasn't telling the average movie-goer that they should take care not to say they hated a movie, rather he was asking this of a fellow filmmaker. At least, that's how it seems. Maybe he'd just like to see more people within the industry step forward and defend the big swings, since they are fewer and farther between.
For me, Anderson and Boogie Nights were major sources of early inspiration. I saw that movie and knew I wanted to know more about making movies. It was absurdly funny and deeply human. I've been singing it's praise ever since.
Many of his other movies left me feeling cold, and certainly less engaged. I love where Anderson's heart is at with this rule and advice for Krasinski but at the same time, I sort of wish the industry gave more big swings to new voices.
Hasn't PTA taken an awful lot of big swings now? We only got PTA in the first place because people were willing to take a chance on a young filmmaker with fresh ideas and a jolt of energy.
I want more new voices in cinema, by any means necessary. Where is the next PTA?