Words Of Wisdom

That is why my advice to anyone who wants to make films is to make them, even if they don't know how. They'll learn by doing it, in the most vibrant and organic way possible.

OF course, you may find that the biggest problem of young filmmakers is that they have nothing to say. At the risk of sounding redundant, I think the duty of the a filmmaker is to tell the story that he or she wants to tell, which means that you have to know what the hell you are talking about.

In other words, a film is a dream, but it's a dream made up of reality.

In terms of visual grammar, for me, the spatial relationship between the characters is the vital thing. If characters are emotionally close, I bring them together, If they're distant, I separate them.

But what you really should be thinking about is how to do a scene as efficiently as possible, as quickly as possible, and as intelligently as possible. Much of what people think of as art is actually just the intelligent solution of technical problems.

If the scene is about what the scene is about, you're in deep shit.

The only way you can make films for an audience is to make them for yourself. You have to use yourself as a reference.

You make a film for yourself. That is an absolute necessity.

In any case, I tend to rely on only two kinds of lenses to compose my frames: very wide angle and extreme telephoto. I use the wide angle because when I want to see something, I want to see it completely with the most detail possible. As for the telephoto, I use it for close-ups because I find it creates a "real" encounter with the actor. Anything in between is of no interest to me.

On the other hand, I tend to subscribe to the idea that, in a sense, you're always making the same film over and over again. You are who you are; your personality is usually the consequence of what you went through during your childhood, and you spend your life, consciously or not, rehashing the same ideas over and over again.

I'd rather see a well-composed static shot than a moving shot that makes no sense.

Whether it's the right way to construct things or not, it's personal. This is my own reaction to seeing too many things that were strung together on illusion. It's sort of a collorary to trying to keep the space is that you don't cut. That you have as few cuts as possible. Kubrick did, I think, that there are fewer than 500 cuts in Clockwork Orange.

The aim is to tell the truth without being boring. That's why lies are so successful, because the truth can be pretty boring---because that's the truth.

I enjoy not doing the same thing. I like intimate movies like Last Tango in Paris or Besieged to have an epic flavour. In the same way, I like male actors to have something feminine about them and actresses to have something masculine.

When I'm working on a script with James Schamus, I always force him to come up with one word to sum up the essence of a scene or a movie---to sum up the core emotional feeling or taste of the movie.

I think Traffic works for people because it looks and feels like it's going on right in front of you, and that means shooting available light with hand-held cameras. The reason I'm drawn to this approach is that I feel that if you are going to do something that is lifelike, then it will be inherently self-renewing because life changes, and so if you keep to the idea of trying to capture life as it happens, then your talent won't desert you, whereas with any other style, you know you'll run to a dead end.

To conclude, it's all really about storytelling. I think you have to know how to tell a story. It doesn't matter whether it's a movie or a joke over dinner. There are people who start telling a joke, and you cringe. Others open their mouths and you're hanging on their every word.

I am mainly an invisible witness to events and my camera follows me.

Often what makes comedy funny is to give the audience something very familiar to them, something very ordinary, and then all of the sudden put something unexpected in there. That's what makes people laugh. So if you apply that to the violent scenes in my films, you know it happens in the most unlikely situations. That gives it a stronger impact than a setting where you would expect there to be a lot of violence.

Film is truth 24 times a second, and every cut is a lie.

What (Humphrey) Jennings seems to have realized was that, to express ideas of a certain complexity, it is not possible to rely on pictures alone. If an idea is to be raised, then it must be done in the first instance in words.

I just despise the rigid complexity of all things computer related, that inherently oppose spontaneous creativity. The majority of my time is spent troubleshooting and cursing. I rarely get to enjoy the work since it is usually a process of such incremental achievement, I dont get to sit back and take in an overall result with surprise. Each iteration is usually a small step forward, 'Ok, that one glitch is fixed... but now that is screwed up. That doesn't look right.' Redo, render it again, and again, and again... until I cannot see it objectively anymore. I stare at the final animation looping, trying to see it objectively, but I can't tell the effect of what I did anymore. The process is so mired in technical convolution, I find computer animation to be too much of an endurance test to fully enjoy, as opposed to more organically immediate art forms. It requires a certain, high-functioning form of OCD ("perfectionist" is the more flattering term), that takes precedence over social life, proper sleep, and trying to not throw things. I think I have just been doing it too long.