Cool Hand Luke screenplay by Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson. Based on the novel by Donn Pearce.
Here’s an excellent video session with the legendary writer-director Frank Pierson. His credits include Cat Ballou (1965), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), A Star Is Born (1976), King of the Gypsies (1978), In Country (1989), and Presumed Innocent (1990).
What’s your creative process?
Sit down at 10 o’clock in the morning and write anything that comes into my head until 12. One of the few things I’ve discovered about writing that seems to work, at least for me, is to form a habit that becomes an addiction so that if you don’t put something down on paper every day, you get really mean and awful with withdrawal symptoms, and your wife and your dog and your kids are going to kick your ass until you get back to it because they can’t bear you in that state of mind. What’s happening is that your unconscious is writing all the time. It doesn’t stop. In the middle of a dinner party or just playing with the dogs or what have you, you suddenly have in idea. Sometimes it’s important to go write that down, but it won’t go away. If it’s a good idea, it’ll linger in your mind. If it’s a bad idea, you’ll forget it. —The Masters: Frank Pierson on the origin of his most famous line and why his scripts never “fail to communicate.”
Director Stuart Rosenberg and legendary cinematographer Conrad Hall:
Conrad Hall photographed The Wild Seed, Morituri, Harper, The Professionals, Divorce American Style, Cool Hand Luke, In Cold Blood, Hell in the Pacific, Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, and The Happy Ending. He received an Oscar for Butch Cassidy.
I want to help change the world, and I want to do it by telling stories that help to do that. And other people say, “I’d rather do it by picking up a brick and throwing it through a window, or sitting down somewhere and attracting attention.” I think that films haven’t changed it, although they’ve influenced it somewhat, but not necessarily for the better. Because there hasn’t been in it the responsibility that there should be. The artists are not in control yet. Those in charge are not a group of artists, they’re a bunch of people making money.
But now the artists are coming along, and maybe there’s a chance… I don’t think we can change the world through films any more. I used to think we could change the world by showing the human condition. But picking up a brick and throwing it, or sitting down someplace in a road, does a much quicker job. I don’t have any answers for anything, but I know that I’m not going to make any more pictures that I don’t really care about. My motives in the past were different. —Conrad Hall: An Interview, Spring 1971
Fishing with John is a 1991 television series conceived, directed by and starring actor and musician John Lurie, which earned a cult following. The guests featured are film director Jim Jarmusch, actor Matt Dillon, musician Tom Waits, actor Willem Dafoe and actor-director Dennis Hopper.
John Lurie played a mean sax before pursuing acting, starring in some of Jim Jarmusch’s best films—Stranger Than Paradise and Down By Law, among others. But it was the 1990s television show he conceived and directed which really catapulted him into a cult obsession: the strange, wonderful, and hilarious Fishing With John. The concept of the show was simple: each episode, Lurie would take one of his pals to a certain locale around the world and fish. Just real men doing real things. Those pals also just happened to be Jim Jarmusch, Tom Waits, Willem Dafoe, Dennis Hopper, and Matt Dillon. From Maine, Jamacia, and Thailand, Lurie would travel with his guest of honor and set out to brave the elements, search new territory, and, of course, catch some fish. The result was a fantastic exploration of finding the comedy in the mundane—the pleasure of watching two men sit on a boat in the heat or freezing to death on a frozen lake heightened to the surreal, with a narrated voiceover that could double you over. Tom Waits gets cranky, Jim Jarmusch is bored, Willem Dafoe dies, Dennis Hopper is…well, Dennis Hopper, and naturally a bit of disaster ensues. —Gone Fishing: An Interview With the Legendary John Lurie By Hillary Weston
All the episodes are available on YouTube, lets have some fishing fun!
- Jim Jarmusch: Fishing for shark off the coast of Montauk, New York State. Out here, the shark is at the top of the food chain.
- Tom Waits: Lurie and Waits fish for red snapper in Jamaica. Tom periodically becomes grumpy. A game of cards on dry land makes Tom feel much better. Waits catches a fish and puts it in his pants.
- Matt Dillon: Dillon and Lurie fish in San José, Costa Rica. Supernatural events ensue.
- Willem Dafoe: Ice fishing in northern Maine. Dafoe and Lurie run out of crackers and, the narrator tells us, starve to death.
- Dennis Hopper: The narrator happily reports that Lurie is still alive. Lurie and Hopper search for the mythical and elusive giant squid in Thailand, which also is apparently hunting them.
- Dennis Hopper: Part two in Thailand. The squid hypnotizes the protagonists with its “volley ball” sized eye. Deeper and deeper into Thailand, few are chosen.
— John Lurie (@lurie_john)
The Complete Citizen Kane (1991, BBC). The most complete investigation in the origins and making of one of the most important films in cinema history. This excellent documentary was created as an Arena Special and includes interviews with Welles from BBC interviews in 1960 and 1982. It also includes an interview with Pauline Kael discussing her controversial “Raising Kane” article. The finest most insightful work ever done to date on Citizen Kane.
With thanks to Citizen Welles
All the essential documentaries on Orson Welles, including Orson Welles: The Paris Interview (1960), Filming ‘The Trial’ (1981), The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996), Shadowing the Third Man (2004), Orson Welles: The One-Man Band (1995), With Orson Welles: Stories from a Life in Film (1990), Filming ‘Othello’ (1978), F for Fake (1973), Orson Welles with French film school students, Orson Welles “Its All True” Citizen Kane and RKO, and seven-minute video of a very young-looking Welles (he was 23 at the time) addressing an onslaught of press members on October 31, 1938, the day after The War of the Worlds broadcast.
The handwritten drafts in the Writers Guild Foundation collections reveal the creative magic behind the unforgettable screen moments. From the hilarious “There’s no crying in baseball!” in A League of Their Own to the snappy Bogart and Bacall banter of Han and Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, the pages offer a rare glimpse at how writers develop stories and characters.
With thanks to Tim Pelan
The Gentleman of Horror, Boris Karloff is the focus of this episode of This Is Your Life from 1957.
A Guest in My Own Dreams: An Interview with Federico Fellini, Film Quarterly, Spring 1994 [pdf]
This is probably one of the best interviews with Fellini.
The conversation which follows did not take place all at once. Although I had known Federico Fellini since 1956, when he came to New York to publicize Nights of Cabiria and appeared on my radio show, and although I had written about him extensively, made a documentary about him (Ciao, Federico!), and photographed him continually for 37 years, we had not actually sat down to discuss his filmmaking ideas and his life philosophy until a few years before his death.
This was not because I did not ask him. It was, I now think, his reluctance to sound definitive about anything, and especially about himself, which made him postpone again and again a long-promised, lengthy, and in-depth conversation on these topics. Even the simple telling of the facts of his life kept being postponed. And although once, in 1962, after I had worked with him on 8’/2 and was following him during the shooting of Juliet of the Spirits, he sat down with me on a rainy afternoon and allowed me to record his story on five hours of tape, he was beside himself when these tapes were lost and refused to do new ones. I think this is because the story would not have been the same if he had tried again. He would have invented another life, a risk he probably wished to avoid in case the first tapes ever showed up.
But after City of Women, on which my companion, Deborah Beer, was the set photographer (as she was on And the Ship Sails On and on Ginger and Fred), he became somewhat more open to the suggestion of talking about himself in what I told him would be a discussion in depth. He smiled at this definition but he did not refuse, although at the same time he practically stopped giving journalistic interviews. From today’s vantage point, I can’t help feeling that for Fellini, allowing this discussion was a small way of giving up a battle for continual renewal.
I hope to convey, with these excerpts from many hours of tape, an image of a man who has shaped our vision of the century. —Gideon Bachmann
Cronenberg on Cronenberg. He’s given 3sat an interview in which he looks back on his major features over the course of 90 minutes.
Anne V. Coates (born 12 December 1925) is a British film editor with a more than 40-year long career in film editing. She is perhaps best known as the editor of director David Lean’s epic film, Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. A self-described intuitive editor, Coates has edited such films as The Horse’s Mouth, Lawrence of Arabia (for which she won an Academy Award), Becket, The Elephant Man, Ragtime, Chaplin, In the Line of Fire, Out of Sight and, most recently, the Julia Roberts hit Erin Brockovich. In an industry where women only accounted for 16 percent of all editors working on the top 250 films of 2004, and 80 percent of the films had absolutely no females on their editing teams at all, Anne V. Coates continues to thrive as a top film editor. In February 2007, she was awarded BAFTA’s highest honour, The Academy Fellowship.
Anne V. Coates is best remembered for the film which won her an Oscar. “We had 33 miles of film. That’s a lot of film to go through and make choices on in very little time,” says Coates when talking about Lawrence of Arabia (1962). “When we were reconstructing it, David Lean and I tried a couple of times to cut down scenes. But we realized they were right the way they were. Lawrence had its own kind of rhythms and you had to go with them.” As for the famous transition featuring a lighted match and the rising sun, Coates remarks, “It was in the script as a dissolve but we saw it cut together before we had the optical delivered. We looked at the job and said, ‘My, God it worked fantastic!’ We tried taking a frame off here and there and David said to me in the end, ‘That’s nearly perfect. Take it away and make it perfect.’ I literally took two frames off of the outgoing scene and that’s the way it is today.” —Cutting Edge: A conversation with film editor Anne V. Coates
“I was doing some turning out in England the other day because I’m selling my apartment there,” recalls British film editor Anne V. Coates who made a surprising discovery. “I came across this letter which said, ‘Dear Mr. Spiegel, I don’t think I can cut Lawrence of Arabia  for the money you’re offering.’ I turned down the picture. It’s a two page letter saying all the reasons why I wasn’t going to do it.” Coates explains, “I had already cut Tunes of Glory  and The Horse’s Mouth . I wasn’t a complete nonentity. They were offering, and they paid me, very little money. Sam Spiegel said to me, ‘If you cut Lawrence then you would be able to ask any money you like afterwards.’ So seven years later when they asked me to go back on to do the recut for television, I asked for a huge amount of money. Sam said, ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ I said, ‘I’m doing what you said.’ and he paid me. I had forgotten I had ever written that letter and to come across it was really weird. I thought, ‘I wonder where I’d be now? Probably, not here in Hollywood.’” —Twice Around: Anne V. Coates talks about Lawrence of Arabia
“I was one of the up-and-coming young editors in England at the time,” states Anne V. Coates. “I had a meeting with Stanley Kubrick about doing Lolita  and I liked it; we got on very well. It was a question of going with a new director or what we call in England ‘an old hat director’ like David Lean. My husband said, ‘You can’t even think twice. Don’t even think about Stanley Kubrick. You have to work with David Lean.’ I’ve never had a choice of two such interesting films at the same time.” Reflecting on her decision, Coates admits, “I was very disappointed not to work with him. He never asked again. I saw him occasionally and he rang me about one of my assistants on Lawrence that he wanted to use. I couldn’t part with that one but I gave a very high recommendation to my second first, Ray Lovejoy, whom he took, and he became a top editor. He cut 2001  for Stanley. I had a chat with Stanley then; that’s probably the last time I spoke to him.”
For an interview between Walter Murch and Anne V. Coates, head over to FilmSound.org.
An Oscar-winner for her work on David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962, Anne V. Coates ACE is still working on major feature films, at the age of 85, as one of Hollywood’s most respected film editors. When editing students at TFT were offered an opportunity to receive hands-on instruction from this meticulous craftsman, famed for her sensitivity to nuances of charater and drama, they jumped at the chance, making the Women if Film Legacy Series Film Editing Master Class an academic benchmark for the School.
Ridley Scott on filmmaking — part II
The master who taught himself the craft by shooting over 2000 commercials within a span of 15 years discusses some of his thoughts on filmmaking.
The first of a series of Ridley commentaries. Ridley’s discussions are always filled with good information on technical side of things as well as the industry. Devour it.
An one hour documentary about the problems in the making of Oliver Stone’s Salvador (1986), Into the Valley of Death is an powerful, brutal and honest look on not only the film, based on a true story, but also the whole brutality that took place in El Salvador in the 1980’s with dictatorships financed by U.S. government.
Featuring interviews with Stone, James Woods, James Belushi, Richard Boyle (the journalist who lived the experiences that later became the movie, he’s portrayed by Woods on screen) and the U.S. Ambassador in El Salvador at the time Robert E. White, the documentary presents a small background of what was happening in the country; the difficult process of making the movie on location there and also in Mexico; the budget problems that made Oliver Stone refuse his payment in order to assure all the horses he needed for a battle scene, among other disasters and problems. What fascinates me the most here is how candid the interviewers are, specially the actors frankly speaking about the duel of egos they had with each other, and their dislike for the real figures they were portraying in the movie, of whom they met in a disastrous party.
But the best testimony comes from the ambassador, arguing about how different his persona was portrayed in the movie (Michael Murphy’s character) and is views on how bad the Washington bureaucrats acted in El Salvador, denying or overlooking the killings and abuses committed by officials and the government. Purely informative, with very good footage from the movie’s behind the scenes and also some disturbing images of the real deal in the Central America’s country, “Into the Valley of Death” will make you look at Stone’s film in a different way, more respectfully and more thoughtfully. You’ll really need to watch it again and examine that your perception on it will be changed. This is featured as bonus material of “Salvador” DVD.
From the utterly brilliant the edit room floor: Unseen photos from Rocky — shooting the final fight
Never seen Sylvester Stallone choreography for Rocky (1976)
Sly Stallone and Apollo Creed — Carl Weathers — demonstrate the precise moves that made Rocky the very first sports film to win the Academy Award for best picture! The masterful choreography made the punches the most exciting in the history of Hollywood boxing movies.
Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? Audio Commentary with cinematographer Haskell Wexler. He chats mostly about technical issues like camera techniques, lighting, and various cinematographic choices. Wexler also digs into issues like sets and locations, working with the actors and Nichols, and the tone during the shoot. This track will work best for those with a significant interest in the technical domains.
With thanks to cinematographos
What was it like to work with Kazan on America, America, which is really so much a part of his life, a magnum opus; how much freedom did you have, what kind of experience was it?
HW: That was one of the toughest experiences of my life.
He has very precise ideas about what he wants to do?
HW: He was precise but he gave me quite a bit of freedom-that’s not the right word because it assumes that I have my ideas, he has his, and one wins and one loses. I did not feel visually restrained in working with him and I learned a great deal from him. One of the difficulties was that the film was so personal to him and he was so intense and intent. Also it was just plain physically difficult—a rather primitive situation, a rather low budget for us at the time. Of course Warners came in with money later on. But I greatly enjoyed it-all-Italian crew, I learned to speak Italian. Good spirits, fabulous spirits. Deedee Allan was the cutter, I spent some time in the cutting room with her. She can even make bad photography look good.
Do you like to have a look at the cutting?
HW: Oh yes, I do all the time. Partly, I think, it’s a selfish thing because I’m interested in a shot or a couple of the scenes-always afraid, almost like narcissistic actors whose best performance ends up on the cutting-room floor! I would like to say that it’s my interest in the film but I think it begins with the other… To tell the truth, nothing photographically is too difficult. I think the hard thing for me now is not to show off. I’ve got a good bag of tricks and I am always developing them. What I have to do now is use restraint, trying to concentrate on the story and make sure that what I am doing with the camera is not exhibitionism. You see I would like to make my own film. I want to direct. Everybody wants to direct. But I haven’t found a script. Recently I’ve seen about five scripts, all about hippies, but they are all written by people who don’t know anything about them. —The Danger Is Seduction: An Interview with Haskell Wexler, Film Quarterly, Spring 1968.
In this exclusive interview from Cinema Libre Studio’s release of LATINO, Tim Rhys of MovieMaker Magazine sits down with legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler.
A portrait of a group of friends who have worked in the film industry, Daniel Raim’s Something’s Gonna Live is a must-see with its intimate presentation of some of filmmaking’s great contributors to production design and cinematography. Travel back to the makings of Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds and North by Northwest, listen to discussions on the question of film, what it is, its place in culture, and how technology affects it. Still, an essential part of the film, and maybe the most important aspect of all, is how the documentary portrays this group of artists. They are above all else, humble friends who support each other with their passions for work and respect for each other and their crafts.
The film is a warm and contemplative portrait of the aging Boyle and his friends as they visit their old stomping grounds at Paramount Studios and converse about ways the industry has changed, and most importantly, the creative values they learned over the years and hope to preserve. Full of indelible clips, it’s an engrossing movie for movie lovers, and it has recently been released on DVD and streaming sites such as Amazon and Netflix. (Filmmaker Magazine)
Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood in conversation with Academy Award-nominee Darren Aronofsky following the world premiere of Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story.
This unprecedented new film focuses on Eastwood’s directorial method thanks to producing partners and fellow actors sharing never-before-told stories of working with Clint. It explores Eastwood’s signature style, dissecting the skills that have ensured his four decades of success. Bringing together the insights of Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and many others, the film creates the complete picture of the man, the colleague, the creator.