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Friday, October 26, 2012

A couple of days ago, Flickering Myth's Trevor Hogg posted a transcript from a group chat with Brian De Palma, which took place at last month's Toronto International Film Festival. De Palma discusses the fact that it has gotten more difficult for any filmmaker working for a studio to have final cut on a picture. "I’ve always been able to work within the studio system," De Palma is quoted as saying. "If your budget gets big you have a lot more meetings which was true on Mission to Mars [2000] which was the most expensive movie I’ve ever made. It was the early 1990s, around Bonfire [1990] when you started to get stacks of notes. Everybody would have notes for you. That’s when I remember there was a lot more hands on in the studio system. Normally you would have a few meetings and they would let you go off and make the movie. You would have to deal with them in the previews stage. In the day of the director, long and far gone, you could bowl your way through them like with Scarface [1983]. We had a preview in Texas. There were walkouts and cards in which people said, ‘It’s the worse movie I ever seen.’ I basically said, ‘Sorry. That’s it. I’m not changing it.’ That was lucky in those days but it has gotten harder. I don’t think the young directors have final cut the way we older directors do. The studios would prefer to deal with a director who they can control and control the cut. They don’t like working with directors of my generation because we’re stubborn, old and crotchety."

Someone asked De Palma about situations in which a director is told by a studio to convert a film into 3D. "That’s a sad position to be in as a director because you shouldn’t do it. 3D is a specific technique like split screen, split diopters, long steady cam shots, and montages. It needs a specific use. To throw it in in order to charge five or six dollars more for the glasses is a mistake and you’re going to finally say, ‘I’m not going anymore because this has nothing to do with 3D.’"

When asked about his long-planned adaptation of Gardner McKay's Toyer, De Palma replied, "It was bought by a guy who went out of business so I don’t think we’re going to see that one."

The end of the discussion takes off from Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, which looked at the lives of the young Hollywood filmmakers of De Palma's generation in the 1970s. De Palma chose not to participate in the book. "The first thing you discover," De Palma told the TIFF group, "and this is probably true of a lot of biographies is, ‘Who talks to the biographer?' Is it the bitter ex-wife, the unhappy girlfriend or the partner who got screwed out of a deal? They do a lot of talking. The people who like and respect the filmmakers they don’t talk at all like me. That’s why you see me very little in this book. I would know all of those situations. I was there in the 1970s. I saw it all. I could see this was taking a gossipy, drugs, girls, rock ’n’ roll, and I shied away from it immediately.”

Regarding those Hollywood days early on in his career, De Palma told the TIFF group, “We worked hard trying to get into the studio system. We helped each other. We helped with scripts and casting. [Paul] Schrader came to me with Taxi Driver [1976]. I read it. I gave it to Marty. I introduced Marty [Scorsese] to Bobby [De Niro]. I helped Marty with Mean Streets [1973]. We were all living in the same area. I got an email from Steven [Spielberg] the other day. I met Steven because my girlfriend at the time Margo Kidder knew him from the lot at Universal. The first time I met Steve we were going to homosexual baths in Manhattan scouting locations for Cruising which I reminded him of and we started to laugh."

Posted by Geoff at 1:23 AM CDT
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Friday, October 26, 2012 - 5:44 PM CDT

Name: "Harry Georgatos"

It's a pity today director's don't have final cut. When studio heads and executives come in with notes telling the director what to shoot and what to leave out 90% of the time those film bomb at the box office. If one looks at the seminal films of cinema and director's such as James Cameron those films are successful because director's were left untouched by the intrusion of the studio system. Films such as THE MATRIX and INCEPTION took off because of the vision of the filmmaker's. With THE MATRIX sequels and the huge budgets I suspect there was tampering by producers and studio executives, which have destroyed the reputation of first MATRIX movie. Final cut should be left to  the filmmaker!

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