Thursday, December 16, 1999

Interview: Time/Yahoo! Chat Transcript

Time-Yahoo Chat Transcript
December 16, 1999

Timehost: Thanks for coming to our TIME Auditorium tonight. We're really pleased to have Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of the new movie Magnolia, he's also the director of Boogie Nights. And the great movie, which many more people should go back and take a look at Hard Eight. Magnolia is likely to be an enormous hit this Christmas season...a serious, ambitious movie for adults. The first question concerns Boogie Nights. One of the chatters is writing a paper about it and sees the characters as using pornography to achieve their version of the American Dream. He asks if he is off the mark...

Paul Thomas Anderson: There's no way to be way off the mark with Boogie Nights. It's all incredibly coherent and completely contradictory. So when it comes to pornography, anything flies. The one thing I would say is that I don't think many people in pornography seek out pornography. It usually finds them.

film_fantom: Did you make short films when you were a kid?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Yes. On camcorders in my later teens. When I was 17 or 18 I started shooting things on film.

film_fantom: What advice would you give an aspiring young filmmaker like myself?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Writing is the key. When you write your own material you hold all the cards. All ammunition comes from the script. P.S. Watch all of Alexander McKendrick's movies.

major_danby: You made the Dirk Diggler Story ten years before Boogie Nights, where you surprised by the latter's phenomenal takings in light of its precursor? Which of the two do you prefer in all honesty?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Just to clarify, the Dirk Diggler Story was a 30 minutes story I made when I was 17 years old on videotape and structured as a fictional documentary. I have a sweet spot in my heart for it. But I'll reach for Boogie Nights any day of the week.

Timehost: Is it possible for people to see the Dirk Diggler Story?

Paul Thomas Anderson: It may be some time down the line...right now I'm keeping it to myself.

major_danby: Was getting the Magnolia cast together as hard as it looks on paper?

Paul Thomas Anderson: No. It was relatively painless because while I was writing I could call up to the actors who were my friends in the film and make sure that they could clear their schedules for my projected finish date on the script.

omphalos_99: What was the last movie you saw that you learned something from?

Paul Thomas Anderson: I watched Ace in the Hole, a.k.a., The Big Carnival, a few nights ago and it inspired me to really go back and learn the good old fashioned rules movie storytelling. I'll be watching a lot more Billy Wilder in my time off.

spredpanicwide: When will we be able to see Magnolia nationwide ?

Paul Thomas Anderson: January 7th.

pluigi13: What was it like visiting Kubrick's set in England when Tom Cruise got you in??

Paul Thomas Anderson: Everything a geek dreams -- and more. It was totally inspiring. He works with a very small crew, but that's what allows him to shoot for so long. It was wonderful to look at someone who had created their own very specific way of making a movie.

Timehost: Was there pressure to cut Magnolia down for the holiday ?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Which holiday? No, there was no pressure to cut it down. New Line was incredibly supportive of what I wanted to do.

superball9: How does Aimee Mann and Michael Penn's duet of "Christmastime" fit in with Hard Eight? I just saw that picture this past week and for the life of me could not figure out its relation to the film?

Paul Thomas Anderson: I'll have to go back and watch it myself to answer that one.

major_danby: In Hard Eight and Boogie Nights you wrote brilliantly about gambling and porn respectively.... is this from personal experience? (lol) How did you research, or did you just guess?

Paul Thomas Anderson: I researched pornography after I had written the film. I just wanted to verify that what I thought was the truth was in fact the truth. And I turned out to be pretty close. As far as gambling, I have done it since forever.

tpowell123_99r: Were you always confident in your writing/directing? I find myself constantly second-guessing myself. How did you feel about your writing when you were, say, 20?

Paul Thomas Anderson: I was very frustrated that I wasn't better faster. I knew what I wanted to write. I just wasn't able to get it down on paper properly. I'm not sure I've completely overcome that, but I have gotten much better and more confident.

retrovertigo24_1999: How long was the shoot for Magnolia?

Paul Thomas Anderson: 100 days. We were scheduled for 80 days but through the brilliance of my producer Joanne Sellar we went 20 days over and stayed UNDER budget.

Jerome_The_Overweight_Lover: What do you think of Digital Video?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Digital video for digital video is wonderful. Digital video projecting film is not wonderful. I don't ever want to see one of my films projected digitally in a MOVIE theater.

Necro56: Who are some of your idols as directors?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Jonathan Demme. Max Ophuls. Stanley Kubrick. And the traditional group of Altman, Scorcese and Welles. And the list goes on and on.

theirreal420: How did you pick the actors to play the roles? I thought you made an excellent choice with Mark Wahlberg. He brought sex appeal to the screen.

Paul Thomas Anderson: I write specifically for the actors that are in the film. Every once in a while I won't have someone, as in the case of Marky, and I'll just have to go looking. I love actors and I think that one of my main reasons for writing is only in aid of watching them act.

kv63: Paul, now that Magnolia is going to be released have you started thinking about your next project, and if so what will it be?

Paul Thomas Anderson: All I know is that it will be really, really, really, really short.

major_danby: What do you consider the turning point in your career - what one incident propelled you into the big league?

Paul Thomas Anderson: I suppose I would have to say the success of Boogie Nights. That's assuming I am in the big leagues and not just in my own big-headed league.

avrilincandenza: Do you have any literary influences?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Salinger, for sure, just like everyone. And Mamet, who I consider a literary influence. I love David Goodis, who wrote Nightfall, The Burglar, Black Friday, and Shoot the Piano Player.

tunaface: are there any particular actors or actresses you'd like to work with--some who might surprise us?

Paul Thomas Anderson: I would love to work with Daniel Day Lewis. Juliette Binoche. And I wish Chris Farley was still around, because I would have loved to have gotten my hands on him.

Bogart_100: Do you let your editor present you with a rough cut or do you sit down with him/her and bang one out?

Paul Thomas Anderson: It's a very weird combination of both. I don't exactly know how to describe our editing process except that it's very blurry. We don't cut in a very traditional way.

lil_cate: If you had an unlimited budget what would your dream project be?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Raise the Titanic 2.

TYLER22M_03: In the movie Boogie Nights, what ever happened to the Oriental Firecracker Man. He was there in one scene and we never see what happened to him?

Paul Thomas Anderson: You'll find out in the sequel.

pluigi13: Was it difficult to shoot the casino scenes in Hard Eight, with a movie like Swingers and Leaving Las Vegas the casinos where not too kind with letting the crew shoot.

Paul Thomas Anderson: We actually shot the movie before those two movies were shot. We were released afterwards. Besides that, we were shooting in Reno, which is far more amenable than Las Vegas.

tunaface: Have you acted yourself and would you consider a role in one of your own movies?

Paul Thomas Anderson: No, never, no way, not, NO, NO, NO. Maybe.

filmbuffmatt: Are you partial to the films of John Cassavettes or Jean Luc Goddard?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Not just as movies but as models for budgets and practicality. It's wonderfully inspiring to think of him using his own home as the set of his own films. I love Godard in a very film school way. I cant say that I've ever been emotionally attacked by him. Where I have been emotionally attacked by Truffaut.

lil_cate: Tell us about your rumored collaboration with J.Demme...

Paul Thomas Anderson: It's a rumor...and it's true. And it's not exactly clear on what it is. But it will be.

ticker74: What kind of camera did you first start using?

Paul Thomas Anderson: I started out using a video camera when I was a kid, then I started using 8mm film, and I realized that video was much easier. When I was 17, I bought a Bolex 16mm camera, and started to experiment.

Timehost: How did you and your producer meet up?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Joanne Sellar is Daniel Lupi's wife. Daniel Lupi was the production manager on Hard Eight. So I initially met her as his wife. She was independently producing her own things, and I just really fell in love with her way. So she became a producer of Boogie Nights, along with a few others, I hope it stays that way for her.

omphalos_99: I know you prefer writing your own material, but if you could adapt one piece from another medium, what would you choose?

Paul Thomas Anderson: I already feel like I've adapted songs -- Aimee Mann's music was a major source of inspiration for Magnolia. It could be considered an adaptation of her music. Someday I would like to adapt a book or do one of those TV show movies.

ticker74: In Hard 8 did you let the actors ad lib because the dialogue sounded so real.

Paul Thomas Anderson: In Hard Eight, there was a very minor amount of ad lib. In Boogie Nights, there was a very large amount of ad lib. Magnolia has almost no ad libbing.

major_danby: This isn't a question, more of a request.... if the timing fits - one day will you please, please, please bring something to the Edinburgh Film Festival (in Scotland) and do a masterclass (Spielberg has even done it with the ET launch and this year's was David Mamet)?

Paul Thomas Anderson: Sounds like good company to be in. I love Scottish food. McDonalds is my favorite restaurant.

Timehost: Our time is running out, so if you have any closing thoughts....

Paul Thomas Anderson: Let me Anderson. And please give me $8.50. Get two movies for the price of one. And one last thing: even if you don't like it, please say that you do.

Timehost: Thank you very much. We appreciate your joining us tonight. And thanks for all your questions. They were great.

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