Another set of stunning photographs from the excellent book Conversations at the American Film Institute with the Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation.
- Fellini lines up a shot for Satyricon (1969). He told reporters it was a science-fiction picture
- Billy Wilder with Gloria Swanson and Cecil B. DeMille on the set of Sunset Boulevard (1950). DeMille directed many of Swanson’s early films, and Wilder recruited him to play himself in the story of the decline of a silent film star
- John Wayne, Howard Hawks and Joanne Dru on location for Red River (1948), the first of four pictures Hawks made with Wayne
- Cinematographer Sven Nykvist (right) with Ingmar Bergman. The director says, “I think the camera is erotic. I think it is the most exciting little machine that exists”
- Frank Capra, seated below camera, working with Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). Joseph Walker is behind the camera
How do you see the business as far as opportunities for directors today?
Today it’s a big lottery. You’re playing not with thirty-six numbers and double zero, but 360 numbers. New ugly words have appeared on the horizon. What they now tell you is the agent got you a date with an executive and you’re going to pitch a story. Pitch? The pitch stuff used to be Sandy Koufax. He was pitching. Me, I’m no pitcher. Most of the time you sit there and pitch to the executive, and you know his face and you study it, and then finally you figure out where you know the face from. He was the mail boy at William Morris, and now you’re pitching a story to him. Then suddenly you’re so ashamed of yourself you say, “Forget it. You wouldn’t like it anyway,” and you walk out. In the old days, Paramount was not the biggest studio, but that’s the first eighteen years of my life here, so I know it best. Paramount made forty pictures a year, and Warner Bros. made around fifty, MGM made sixty, then there was RKO, then there was Universal, blah, blah, blah. Today, if a studio makes six pictures a year, this is a major thing. You do that picture and they are sitting thinking, “Shall we? Shall we not? Shall we put it in turnaround? Shall we go half and half with a group of financiers from Tunisia?” Then when you start shooting they look over your shoulder. Everybody has his own ideas, everybody gives you their criticism, but you want to be left alone. Then, it was only one of forty pictures. Now they make you feel it’s life or death for the studio. “If you don’t hit with this picture we have to dismiss all the secretaries, all the policemen. Everything is going.” —Billy Wilder
Excerpts from a 1986 appearance by Wilder at the American Film Institute:
Hang On Little Tomato
by Pink Martini
album Hang On Little Tomato
hang on, little tomatoes. see you in the day-time.
Swamp Thing #46 (DC Comics - March 1986)
Writer: Alan Moore
Illustrators: Stephen Bissette (Pencils) & John Totleben (Inks)
well, what’s got two thumbs and isn’t getting laid this christmas? that guy. who’s cool now, fucko? fuck ‘em. you rule.
I like EL DORADO a lot. Coming on Blu Ray next month, too. RIO LOBO is kind of sad and unwatchable. And I consider them… like sideways remakes. variations on a theme.
do you mean you want to either be a superhero OR a comic writer, or do you mean you want to write superhero comics?
yep, just balls deep in bartons all night
well… there’s no Right Way, there’s no One Way, there’s no rules. There’s just what works for you to best communicate to your artist. Nobody but they will read your script, remember. So writing with someone in mind is a huge asset.
It’s all just choices. Boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes. Moment, Frame, Image, Flow, Word. Beats, Actions, Subjects, Scenes, Aspects, Imagery. Why does Box A work beside Box B? What do boxes A-F mean for Box Zero, the page itself? What about this page and the next? And the next? And a hundred pages from now?
Here’s an exercise: find a comic you love, find a comic you hate, find a comic you are utterly bored by. Sit with them open beside you. Write a script backwards out of it. What words do you have to put on a page to communicate what, say, Frank Miller communicated to David Mazzuchelli to get whatever panel of BATMAN YEAR ONE on the page? Write a script out of a finished book you love.
Then out of the one you hate. What does it teach you? Do you feel sympathy, empathy? Do you feel superior, do you feel angry? Write it well. Write it as best you can. Where these choices made or were they arbitrary.
Find the boring one. Why did it bore you? Can you write the script so it’s exciting? Watch this — add exclamation points after every sentence! The tone changes — completely! It’s almost a trick! It’s obscene and unfair! And yet there you go! What if you go back to the script you hated… and replaced all the periods with exclamation points?!? I bet the script reads totally different!
Write them all as long as you need to; maybe try using every word you can. Don’t worry about how long your manuscript gets, just go, make sure you’ve covered ever option.
Now maybe use as FEW as possible. What Would Cormac McCarthy do? What Would Amy Hempel do?
Now just make it a list. Like you’re shopping.
And then maybe try just playing with making your own stuff up. the paper’s not precious — write long, write short, just write. Write for an artist that’s smarter and better than you, that’s the real secret. The rest is just hard work and practice and thought and choice.
i think you’re pretty great too. don’t let it get around.
we still love you and we will always forgive you everything