we can be heroes

posted by victor @ 1:26 pm January 30, 2011 in film,writing

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s DGA symposium featuring all five Best Director noms.* I’m usually terrible about keeping track of who exactly did what when, and didn’t fully register until I was seated that 4 of the 5 present were responsible for movies ranking high on my personal All-Time Faves list.** We arrived early and were rewarded with excellent seats just a few rows back. Extended clips were played from each director’s current (nominated) work, followed by an extended panel interview moderated by veteran director Jeremy Kagan.

The whole thing was absolutely riveting, with open-ended, essay-style questions prompting excellent discussion on process and technique and also addressing many of the practical/mundane realities of filmmaking typically not discussed in conventional settings. Answers were thorough, candid and articulate, directed to an audience of — okay, if not exactly “peers,” then at least fellow filmmakers, enabling the use of a kind of shorthand that made it possible for the panel to respond with satisfying depth and clarity.

Running just over 3 hours, the event was, of course, thoroughly entertaining and inspiring. It was also incredibly validating. Filmmaking is a pursuit that can inspire endless second-guessing and self-doubt… but leaves little room for either. So it was particularly interesting to hear from people very much at the top of their game discuss their own feelings, thoughts and approaches so openly. I left with many of my own ideas and instincts reaffirmed, others challenged in intriguing ways, and brilliant alternatives to others. Fincher was a total cutup; Nolan just as austere and articulate as ever. Aronofsky was surprisingly open and down to earth, Hooper clear and earnest, and Russell brought the house down with his response to a question regarding handling anger on set: “This question doesn’t really apply to me,” he deadpanned, then went on to humbly discuss his famous explosion with disarming humility.

* thanks to my good friend Martin!

** R-L in pic: Memento, Requiem for a Dream, Fight Club, Three Kings


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