Maybe it's just me, but I find this video absolutely fascinating. So go take a look at it. Or, first, I suppose, I should give you some cliff notes. This video is a fast interview with six directors: Kathryn Bigelow, Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Jason Reitman, and Lee Daniels. I'm assuming I don't have to tell you who Tarantino and Jackson are.
Kathryn Bigelow: director of The Hurt Locker, K:19, Point Break, Near Dark, etc.
James Cameron: I shouldn't have to tell you either, but just in case: Avatar, Titanic, Terminator 1 and 2, Aliens, The Abyss, True Lies
Jason Reitman: Up in the Air, Juno, Thank You For Smoking
Lee Daniels: Precious, Shadowboxer
Now, take a look:
I love this conversation. It's really a fairly simple question, a little bit stereotypical, fairly dumbed-down, but the personalities behind these directors shine through so well through it that it's easy to see where each of their films come from.
Let's look at the seating arrangements. I don't know if it was intentional, but it's perfect, and fits the conversation to a T:
On the right side, we have Lee Daniels and Jason Reitman. Both are directors of small, quirky-ish indie movies, both of whom rely on film festivals and Oscar buzz for critical success.
In the middle: Peter Jackson and James Cameron. Inarguably the biggest, ballsiest film-makers around. Both of these men understand the word 'epic' and convey that in their movies. Both fit seamlessly into the Hollywood studio system.
On the left side: Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino. Both film-makers whose goal seems to be making art-oriented auteur films within the constrains of typical genre fare.
In other words, they sat according to the type of films they make. (Funny side note: Kathyryn Bigelow used to be married to James Cameron; they're divorced now. Notice how Bigelow is sitting as far as humanly possible from Cameron. They're going to have to spend the whole award season competing. Love it.)
What makes this arrangement more interesting is that the subject of studio vs. independent film comes up; rather passionately, I might add. Look at James Cameron: when Reitman and Daniels are talking about their films he looks disdainful, almost angry. Their style does not sit well with him. He even goes so far as to insult Reitman's father; in the part where Reitman is talking about Kevin Smith and Ghostbusters, which Reitman's father directed, Cameron says, as an aside: "That's a good reason not to make movies." Reitman twitches a little, but keeps smiling. Jackson, too, seems a little aloof, but I'd say he's just not a fan of the schmoozing with the press scenario. He started as a quirky, indie film-maker, and I think he respects his roots. On the other side, Reitman is trying too hard to fit the role as indie director, and Daniels just looks uncomfortable. Watch Bigelow and Tarantino, though. Bigelow is utterly comfortably, almost serene, and Tarantino loves everybody. Of all the film-makers, they seem the most comfortable sharing the craft with their compatriots.
Odd. Jackson and Cameron have made millions and millions with their films, and Reitman and Daniels are both proudly off-center. But the only two film-makers at the table who seem comfortable are the ones who straddle the line between indie and studio.
Is this as telling as I'd like it to be, or are Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino just nicer, more confident people than the others?