It's always fun to get a new movie from one of your favorite directors, and Paul Thomas Anderson is no exception. The director is doing the rounds for Licorice Pizza and talking about anything from the central relationship to the run time, which is a shade over two hours. Speaking to The New York Times, Anderson said that the ideal runtime for a movie is two hours.
“That’s when [movies are] at their best,” he said.
But we'll get to that later.
Of course, Anderson has many titles over that length, but I think he was setting more of a goal for himself moving forward than passing judgment on his past. For Anderson, he's separating TV from movies, and length is one of the defining characteristics.
Anderson said, “[The limited series is a] great format when it works. It’s exciting. Then again, so are series. I’ve never dipped a toe in that world, but I can imagine it being very difficult to sustain the life of a story for more than two, three, four seasons.”
While Anderson usually focuses on movies, it would be very interesting to think about what stories or longer character pieces he could write or the breadth of the story we could follow.
Anderson continued, “No one asks [me to do television]. I’m just sort of playing in my own corner of the sandbox. As a writer, I think we have fantasies when you struggle with editing material down: ‘I have so much material, perhaps this is a limited series.’ When in fact, no, it’s not, you just need to edit down your story. I mean, a film should preferably be two hours. That’s when they’re at their best. I’ve missed that mark multiple times, but that’s really the goal.”
When you set out to create, I think it's best to let that first draft take you wherever you go. But after that, the key is editing and rewriting as you go. And editing even more.
Let us know what you think in the comments.