Paul Thomas Anderson on the set of A Prairie Home Companion
“[Paul Thomas Anderson] talked about working as the standby director for Altman on A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION and how he was honored to be what he considered (in a loving way) the legs and mouthpiece for Altman who was ill at the time. Altman would tell him, “Go tell Meryl not to do that hand thing,” and he would go and say, “Hey Meryl, Bob doesn’t want you to do that hand thing.” [Brilliant. He seemed like a beaming errand boy telling this story.] The insurance company wouldn’t bond the film because of Altman’s failing health concerns so PTA was brought on to sit right next to Altman every day. And learn.”
An audience member recounting Paul Thomas Anderson’s tale of being hired as a “back-up director” on Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion, as told to director Jonathan Demme in a Q&A for The Master..
BFI published an excellent video essay from Kevin B. Lee going through 5 steadicam shots from 5 Paul Thomas Anderson‘s movies: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood. Anderson took the habit of putting steadicam shots in every movie, some being more elaborated than others, but each one of them bringing something to the story and telling something to the audience. It’s interesting to see that in Punch Drunk Love and There Will Be Blood, even though the steadicam movement became minimalistic it almost revealed more about the characters than the most ambitious scenes.
There Will Be Blood also stands out as Lee demonstrates how Anderson created four different framing within one take (see video for more). Have a look below at each shot’s composition, its length and the camera operator’s name. The images below are screen captioned from the video you can watch here. One of the great thing of the video is, while you watch the scene on the top right corner, you also see the camera movement on the bottom left corner. Highly recommended. (more than once actually)
What’s the most common mistake in written dialogue?
Complete sentences. Bad movie dialogue speaks in complete sentences without any overlapping or interruption, and avoids elliptical speech, which is truer to how people actually talk.
— Paul Thomas Anderson
Cigarettes & Coffee premiered at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival, where Paul Thomas Anderson gained the attention needed to be accepted into the Sundance Institute’s filmmaker workshop program where he developed, adapted, and expanded the idea into his first feature film — Hard Eight. In this short you can see the early inspiration of Robert Altman, with Anderson cutting between three stories which somehow intersect.
The director tells CBS This Morning that yes, his The Master is loosely based on L Ron Hubbard and Dianetics and “investigating what that movement was”. Paul Thomas Anderson also fielded a question about Harvey Weinstein, who will push the buttons on The Master‘s Oscar campaign as awards season warms up: “He’s a bull in a china shop — but he’s your bull, and it’s great to have him”.
By now, a large amount of people have been able to see The Master and to build a few sandcastles with Paul Thomas Anderson. The director has grown from a young man fascinated by the nondescript buildings with porn being shot inside to a formidable creator, exploring twists on religion and family. He’s got film fans in his palm, which makes every new project he releases an event movie. But he still remembers to wait until the coffee is poured.
So here is a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a 70mm heavyweight.
Transcript of the Academy Conversations Q&A
That Moment: Magnolia Diary (2000)
What we have here is a beautiful portrait of the making of a film and that’s all we need. Mark Rance’s That Moment is everything you need to see to enjoy the film better. Anderson invited Rance to document the production in day-by-day, diary form. We get interviews and lots more. Anderson simply didn’t need to comment on the film scene-by-scene, because if you look between the lines on this documentary, you can see everything he had to say on the subject. Watch his body, his comments about people and situations and listen to the cast’s stories - it’s all there. You just have to pay attention. So as far as I’m concerned, there is a commentary track and it’s one of the best of the year. Within this documentary, we also see some deleted scenes in production and get a hint as to why they didn’t work. There are also bits of humor and some frustrations expressed. All in all, this documentary is almost the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen in conjunction with a movie on DVD.