Friday, March 4, 2011

13 Filmmaking Insights from "A Decade Under the Influence"—Part 3

Ellen Burstyn in "A Decade Under the Influence"


1. Jean Renoir—A picture often when it is good, is the result of some inner belief which is so strong that you have to show what you want in spite of a stupid story or difficulty about the commercial side…a picture is a state of mind.

2. William Friedkin—The single defining phrase motivating filmmakers at that time, it was probably moral ambiguity.

3. Robert Towne re: "Shampoo"—Even though the characters were flawed or especially because they were flawed, audiences could identify with them. In the first place, theirs were flaws that either arose from or were victimized by what they perceived to be a very flawed system.

4. Milos Forman re: Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"—The real dangerous evil is always trying to look like an angel. Everything is done in the name of helping you.


5. Robert Towne re: "Jaws"—We've never really gotten around "Jaws." Trouble is a very talented filmmaker [Steven Spielberg] made a very good movie and I won't say that the wrong lessons were learned, the lessons were followed to a fault.

6. Sydney Pollack—So marketing became king; something happened which is that the aggressive lead in this area became the marketing division of the company.

7. Francis Ford Coppola—And the best way they could come up with no risk was to make a movie in exactly the mold of the last one that had been successful with exactly the same stars.

No risk. There can't be art without risk. It's like saying there's no sex and expect there to be children.

The "m" that had always stood for "movies" now stood for "money."

8. Paul Schrader—Audiences were slowly educated to believe that good movies make money on opening weekend and bad movies don't.

9. Pollack—MTV started to happen and there was an impatience for linear narrative. You wanted to jump everything and get to the high points and make everything a collection of high points. Why sit through the valleys? Let's just do peaks!

10. Ellen Burstyn—Audiences enjoy movies. And if they can't get high-quality, they'll enjoy whatever they can get.

11. Robert Altman—They're [movie studios] in the hands of these guys who run these corporations and they don't care if it's a movie or a ski.

12. Burstyn—Thank God for the independent film movement because that's re-enlivening the art of cinema…There's an artist at work there. To me that's what cinema should be, it should be one of the ways the artist expresses to the culture what's going on with everybody.

There has to be the personal statement otherwise the culture's going unrepresented on a deep level.

13. Friedkin—That's the thrill of filmmaking to me, the thrill of failure, potential failure. "This may not work."

" Yeah, but if it does work, it's gonna be terrific."

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