Monday, March 08, 2004

Interview: PTA Q&A

Paul Thomas Anderson Q&A, Written By James Yarmolinsky
March 8th, 2004

>> When you were growing up (more specifically in your teenage years) did you go through many different phases (like most kids) as to what you wanted to do in life as a career or did you always consider yourself destined to be a filmmaker?

I always wanted to be a filmmaker. Of course, I was never sure if I would have the opportunity to make films and get paid for doing it so I always thought about what else I might do -- I just wanted to make sure that I got to work on films, even if i wasn't directing them. I could have ended up working as an editor or photographer, anything as long as I was working.....

>> Was there any one film that you remembered seeing when you were younger that instantly made you realize that you wanted to be a film director?

So many films that I saw -- Jaws, Wizard of Oz, Rocky, all the Disney movies that kids see, in one year, when I was 12, I saw Reds and Prince of the City -- that really hooked me for good.

>> What advice would you give to young people interested in having a career in film? Film school vs. Hands on experience, etc.

It's so hard to say. There is no "correct" path. It all depends on you. What works for some people might not work for you. There's nothing that says you can't do both. Working on films and going to film school doesn't mean you do just one or the other.....working hard and often is the best thing.

>> If you had to choose between spending the rest of your life either a) Writing screenplays that you didn't direct or b) Directing screenplays that you didn't write, which way would you rather have it?

Boy, oh, boy. The good news is: I don't have to make this choice. Writing and directing are things that go hand in hand. For me, one is impossible without the other at this time. Sometimes people feel they need to make this choice, but I don't think it's true. If you write, the great thing is that you own it and you've created it, so all the decisions are yours to make, right or wrong.

>> If you weren't a filmmaker, what career would you have probably gone into?

I would have loved to have been a baseball player...but I can't really play baseball very well. I'm most jealous of novelists and photographers, they have great jobs, it seems.

>> Of all the characters in all of yours films, which one do you most closely relate to?

I relate to all of them. I can see all their good parts and bad parts. Secretly, I'm really partial to Jim Kurring in Magnolia.

>> Everyone knows that you are not a big fan of the "Digital Revolution" that's been going on the last few years in the film and television industry. Many filmmakers (Spike Lee, Robert Rodriguez and George Lucas of course) have sworn to never shoot a movie on film again. What is it that film has that video doesn't?

I'm not against anything going on in the digital filmmaking. I just don't like it right now as much as I like other types of tools to make a movie. Someday, I will – when it's right. I like film because of the quality, the density, the breadth, the sweetness.....all those good things. It doesn't matter how it gets up there -- it only matters what it's doing for the story.

>> If you could sit down and have a cup of coffee with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

John Lennon, John Steinbeck, Bill Clinton, Carole Lombard, Fred Astaire. To name a few...

>> What are some of the perks of being a filmmaker that few people know about? (Let's say the Top Five Perks)

They give you a secret pass when you become a filmmaker that allows you to be above the law in all respects. In other words, I can murder someone and get away with it – which comes in handy from time to time when someone disagrees with me.....I know that's not five....but it covers a lot of ground.

>> Do you see yourself directing on Broadway (like directors Sam Mends and Baz Luhrman) anytime in the future?

That would be wonderful. I've always thought about it and I know I'll do it sometime. Just not sure when. I love being in New York and when I see friends put on plays there -- there's a better sense of excitment than I've ever seen. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, as the song says.

>> If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?

HA! George Bush.

>> And lastly, would you possibly be able to give us any details on your next movie? Please??

Nope! Sorry. No details from me. Access denied.  Thanks for your questions, again. I hope they make sense.