Friday, April 25, 1997

Interview: French Premiere Magazine

French Premiere Magazine, Written By Aviva Brooks
April ??, 1998

"I'm nothing more than a movie fanatic who started watching movies at 5 and who decided that it was going to be his job." His favorite film is oh! French and oh! It's Truffaut's Shoot the piano player !

"Between the age of 15 and 18 I only watched Truffaut's and Godard's films. Between 18 and 21, when you acquire a taste, I started watching films from Renoir, Clouzot, Max Ophuls,.."

A thin bespectacled man, PTA "didn't find anything else" to do than making movies. Boogie Nights is his second feature film - which has been a big success for an independent movie- after Hard Eight and a short film which was a fake documentary about John Holmes, the porn actor.

Where does Dirk Diggler come from ?

PTA : When I was 17, I was watching porns like any teenager. But I also thought they were sociologically interesting. They were funny, sad and crazy at the same time. That's where I got the idea for my short film. Two years later I wrote the script of a long fake documentary on the model of Zelig and This is Spinal Tap but this genre was already well-worn. In 93, I wrote a script from it and then I did my first movie. And then I went to propose my script to New Line.

Was it hard to find the money to do a 2h30 movie about porn?

PTA : I told them, "here is the script, I won't change it." It was a bit arrogant but it was a façade. I added, "it will be 3 hours long and X-rated." They asked me to choose between the two. I chose R-rated. And ultimately they were thrilled when the movie turned out to be 2h30.

Did you hang around this environment a lot?

PTA : In the San Fernando Valley, porn was everywhere. But I never wanted to be part of this industry. For my movie, I based everything on what I thought was the reality of this industry - I was living in this fucking valley !- I knew enough about it to write a story. I just intended to do so some research after writing the story, just to make corrections. I finished writing the script and then I went to some sets. And I checked that what I had written was true.

Did it affect your sex life?

PTA : That's a very personal question... No it didn't.

Some people said you copied Scorcese.

PTA : I've definitely been influenced by him. I wanted to use some of his methods and to twist them around so as to make them mine, like he did with Truffaut and Ophuls.

Was it hard to convince the actors?

PTA : No. I wrote most of the parts for my friends.

Julianne Moore?

PTA : I didn't know her but I wrote the part for her. For the others, I told the casting director to tell them : "that's the definitive script; if you have any problem with it, just say "no thanks". The script was good and good actors know how to recognize a good script. Their agents had to be convinced that it wasn't another Showgirls though.

Mark Wahlberg?

PTA : At the beginning I had thought about Leonardo DiCaprio. But after I met him, I wasn't so sure and then he went to do Titanic so... That's when I really thought about Mark, who was in The Basketball Diaries with DiCaprio.

Is a story about porn necessarily sad?

PTA : No. I know one or two actors who are happy, or at least they managed to convince me they were.

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