The best way to learn about film and filmmaking is to listen to the people doing the work. That's why I was so excited to see that A24 got the Safdie brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson together for a little chat after the release of Uncut Gems.
Their conversation ranges from shooting on New York Streets to Kubrick to Tarantino to Little Nicky.
It's a wealth of information on both of their careers and experiences coming up in Hollywood.
Listen to the Safdies and PTA here!
The Safdies sit with PTA and Learn how to Seduce and Destroy
Podcasts are great ways to show a relaxed conversation between filmmakers at the top of their game. You don't get an overly produced sense of reality, and the conversation moves forward, almost like a general meeting.
So what are some cool things we heard about and learned from this meeting between PTA and the Safdies?
Obviously, what connects these guys right now is their work with Adam Sandler.
Sandler is incredible in Uncut Gems, and while the movie has launched a thousand memes and anxiety attacks, it's cool to see these guys relate to Sandler's ability to act at a high level.
I love hearing about PTA liking Happy Gilmore and Big Daddy, but not being a big fan of Water Boy. He came to cast Sandler in Punch Drunk Love after a general meeting where he was taken to the set of Little Nicky.
There, PTA, Sandler, and Quentin Tarantino hung out.
It would have been amazing to be a fly on that wall.
That set visit was responsible for Tarantino writing the"Bear Jew" for Sandler in Inglorious Basterds and PTA getting him for Punch Drunk Love.
Aside from Sandler, another thing that connects these auteurs is the fake Seduce and Destroy ad for Magnolia.
One late night, Josh and Benny saw Tom Cruise doing a fake promo for Seduce and Destroy while watching a late-night smut channel. That little commercial influenced them to imagine actors out of context and steeped them in the power of cinema.
Check out Tom Cruise in Magnolia. His Seduce and Destroy commercial is incredible. Viral marketing before it even existed.
This vision of Cruise opened the Safdies up to the idea of casting against type and brought them back to Sandler later in life.
Everything comes full circle!
All the filmmakers agree that what's special about Sandler is how he can channel rage into any character. He's able to make the people around him better by staying in character and improvising when needed.
To help Sandler find the character of Howard, they had him hang with real bookies in character, even though the bookies knew he was Sandler.
None of that footage made it into the movie, but it helped inform the look and feel of both the character and the cinematography.
For PTA, it was allowing Sandler to be an introvert for the movie. Letting him find the line of enough of Sandler, but staying ready to blow up for the climax.
Everything is about deciding how much of the script matters and where the important stuff is and where there should be room to let seasoned actors follow their instincts.
Both PTA and the Safdies like the idea of a story unfolding in front of them. And actors allowing each other to cut each other off.
So cross-coverage can be almost impossible.
Aside from these legendary stories, PTA touches on visiting the Eyes Wide Shut set as well, which was a formative experience when it came to using smaller crews and Kubrick's advice for him only to use the necessary crew members.
Cinematography is super important when it comes to these diverse filmmakers' careers. So it's nice to hear them highlight Darius Khondji, and his work as a cinematographer helping carry their vision.
They talk about running single cameras and only using multiple cameras to ease the edits at times.
Humble directors always come off in the best way.
Listen to the whole interview for more on Boogie Nights, helicopter shots, and how to bring energy to set.
What's next? Read our interview with the VFX editor of Uncut Gems!
Uncut Gems takes us into an opal, through the universe, and finally out through Adam Sandler's bowels. How? Why? Only one man can tell us.
Click for more.