• April 19, 2024

Paul Schrader on Making and Watching Movies in the Age of Netflix

Yes. And some of them make money. You just made money on this revenge movie. However, the convenience aspect of the series is that you don’t even have to scroll through anything. You’ve seen two episodes of something – “Pretty Young Things,” “Pretty Little Things,” whatever – and you like it and say, “I’ll see the next one.” So you don’t even have to decide. You don’t have to watch a trailer. There are so many out there that you can try them like Forrest Gump’s Chocolate Box. And if you like the first few episodes, you’ll be on an easy road for a couple of weeks.

What is the difference for you in art? You wrote on Facebook that the transition from being a feature to streaming is “depriving you of the ability to write succinct stories that land like a slap in the face.” What is the artistic difference between a feature film and a series for you?

Well, a feature film. . . Hopefully every time you are an artist you have a problem, a theme and need to create a style that really works. With episodic you create a template and the directors simply follow that template. So when you do “The Crown” you do a lot of soft focus and backlighting. They all look the same. And that’s some kind of consolation too, because every time you see “The Crown” you know exactly what it will look like. The challenge of independent film is to create something that feels new and that is less and less positive. And I think you can only look at the movie review to see that, because I remember when people read the movie review and said, “What’s new? What do i need to see What kind of film is that Oliver Stone made about Vietnam? I think we should see this. “That seems to be less and less part of the conversation.

Interestingly, I think these are two separate issues. For example, what you said about the difference between the series and the feature, if I understand correctly, is essentially the difference between the medium of a director and that of a writer.

Yes. And not just a medium for writers, but also a medium for writers. You know the difference.

How would you describe the difference?

I mean, I’m a writer, but when I’m working on episodes, I’m in a writer’s room. There are five or six other people in there. Because, with a few exceptions, these things are usually written from a writer’s room. And so you always compromise and come up with ideas. And so the idea of ​​a strong, unique voice, the idea of ​​Woody Allen, for example. . . You can’t watch a Woody Allen movie without realizing you’re watching a Woody Allen movie, even the stinkers. But a lot of the shows have that committee imprint. And that changes what you expect from a movie, too. So a film like “Nomadland” which is a unique film, a unique style, a unique voice, how does that find its way into the cinemas anymore?

Would it be very different if you saw “Nomadland” at home? In other words, is there a significant difference between “Nomadland”, which was produced for a theatrical release, and “Nomadland”, which was produced for Netflix?

Yes. Well I saw it at home and it made a huge difference. I had no obligation to do so. There was no decision. “Let’s go to the Burns and see ‘Nomadland’. In a way, it’s like going to church. You don’t leave church because you’re bored. You were there to be bored. You were there to have that experience. And if you go to the Burns to see Nomadland, unless you really hate it, you’ll be able to make it through. If you watch it at home, it’s not the same kind of commitment and that’s why you think differently about the movie. I think “nomad land” is a bit of false poverty. I would feel that if I saw it in the theater too. But I know I would have a more focused view of it. And it’s so easy to let go of something at home.

But how is that different from the age of VHS or DVDs? Did you feel like there was a cinema apocalypse on the way when people started borrowing videotapes instead of going to the movies?

No no. I think that was an addition to me at the time. It was secondary. It was still. . . I would go to the cinema and if there was something. . . and of course it didn’t show up on VHS for six months. So if you wanted to see a classic film noir or something else you could get it on Blockbuster, but if you wanted to see a real movie you had to go to a movie theater. And that’s another thing that broke down.

So do you think filmmakers probably don’t have the same resources, amount of money, and budget to produce feature films that they would have twenty years ago, for example? ?

Well there is a lot of freedom. The film that took me forty-two days to make when I started is now in twenty. “First Reformed” was twenty. My new movie “The Card Counter” is twenty. And the quality is the same. You just move a lot, a lot faster. Everything is cheaper. Everything is faster. So the advantage is that films are now being made that could not afford to be made. Anyone can make a movie. Anyone with a phone can make a movie. The downside is that while anyone can make a movie, no one can make a living. Because if you had to make a film in the sixties, you made a living. You have a salary. Today you can make a movie without getting a salary, and you can make a five million dollar movie for fifty thousand and lose fifty thousand. And so there are so many of these young filmmakers. . . They make films that they weren’t allowed to do before, but they don’t make a living and they don’t get that kind of distribution. . . I mean, you watch it all the time, movies being thrown out the car window in the hopes that someone will find them and watch them.

One hopes that what will give film critics a role again.

Yes, if you can find someone to pay you.

Have you ever had the opportunity to work direct for a streaming service, be it a feature film or a series?

Yes. Well, Scorsese and I are planning something, and it is. . . It would be a three year series on the origins of Christianity.

Fiction? Theatre?

No no no. It is based on the apostles and the apocrypha. It is called “The Apostles and Apocrypha”. Because people kind of know the New Testament but nobody knows the Apocrypha. And in the first century there was no New Testament, there are just these stories. And some were true, some were not, and some were fakes.

But are these dramatized like “The Last Temptation”?

Yes.

I can look forward to it. I will subscribe.

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