Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brand New There Will Be Blood Poster

Regarding the Rolling Road Show screening of There Will Be Blood I posted about on the 24th, Apple Trailers now has a page set up for this event and the debut of a brand new poster designed by artist Olly MossClick here to see the new poster(thanks modage)

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Leonardo Dicaprio Biggest Regret: Boogie Nights

Today, ShowBizSpy reported what it says in our headline: Leonardo's biggest regret in his career to date was walking away from Boogie Nights. In their words:

Leonardo DiCaprio admits his “biggest regret” is turning down the chance to star in Boogie Nights.
The Titanic star — who is currently riding high at the box office with summer blockbuster Inception — says he still can’t forget the one dream role that got away.
“My biggest regret is Boogie Nights,” says Leo, who lost the role of porn star Dirk Diggler to close pal Mark Wahlberg. “I’m a huge fan of (director) Paul Thomas Anderson but the first time I met him for that role I hadn’t really seen much of his previous work. Now I love that movie."
You have now read this fact 4 different times in an update containing 5 or 6 sentences total.

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Flashback Friday: Exclusive Pat Healy Interview

Today's Flashback Friday is another site exclusive interview from November 2000 with Pat Healy, who played Sir Edmund William Godfrey and also his son, the younger pharmacist from the Moore meltdown "Don't You Call Me Lady" scene. Enjoy:

C&RV: How did you get started in the acting business?
PH: I came out to Los Angeles in the Spring of 1998. I had done a lot of series television prior to that. I did guest appearances on The Practice, Profiler, NYPD Blue & Buddy Faro (with Dennis Farina). That show didn't last too long. I think it was cancelled after they ran the opening credits. How about "Turks," does anyone remember that one? Hello.....
C&RV: How did your part in Magnolia happen?
PH: My agent had a relationship with the casting director Cassandra Kulukundis. So I sent her my picture. Paul had her looking for real unknown people to populate the world that he created. He wasn't looking for anyone to too familiar for the supporting roles.
C&RV: So she called you in for an audition?
PH: Yeah, I went in on short notice just to be put on tape. She & I just hit it off & we talked for about an hour. I then ran through the scene with her. She left the room & came back with Paul. I was totally blown away. Because I was already a "geeky fan boy" of his anyway. We're roughly the same age & have the same interests. We're both total film geeks. 
I did the scene for him a bunch of times & he said, "You can have this part if you want it." I was like, "OK. I have never had that happen before." He said, "It's going to be great. We have the whole day to shoot the scene & Julianne is going to be there." So that's it. He gave me the part.
C&RV: Did you get the whole script at that point?
PH: I didn't have one at the time. I had to sign like two or three confidentiality agreements. It was pretty tight. Then I got the script which looked like a phone book. Every script had the actor's name & it was numbered with the actor's name on every page.
C&RV: So you were only aware that you were doing the part of the young pharmacist?
PH: Yeah. He hadn't talked to me about the prologue scene as Sir Edmund William Godfrey. I had read it in the script, but it never even occurred to me. I didn't know that I'd be doing that part until about five months later. Paul knew all along. I just got a call that they wanted to some additional scenes.
C&RV: How was that to shoot with the Pathe camera on the Universal lot for the prologue scenes?
PH: It was really exciting. Everybody was really excited because no one had used that camera before. They did some tests, but they're weren't sure how everything would turn out. They had a metronome to keep the timing. Paul was still able to move the camera the way he liked.
C&RV: Any problems during that part of the shoot?
PH: No. Except that the little girl who played my daughter was terrified of me. I had the long cape, big hat & mustache on. She was supposed to jump into my arms, but she would stand in the corner. Paul would try to coax her, but with not much luck. You don't end up seeing her much at all.
C&RV: Did you have to do the scene any slower when using the Pathe camera?
PH: No. We did it at normal speed. It's very strange. For example, when I get punched, the arm was nowhere near my face. But because of the speed of the camera, it looks like it hits me right in the face. But it wasn't even close.
C&RV: Tell me about shooting the scene with Julianne Moore in the pharmacy?
PH: It was shot in one, long twelve hour day. He shot her coverage first which was really great. I got see what see was doing which gave me plenty of time to prepare & know how to react to her. She was incredible. Paul shot her breakdown first & she just nailed it in three takes. I think the scene that was used was like the first or second take. She's just amazing.
C&RV: How is Paul to work for in terms of what he gives to you as a director?
PH: He's great. He's just a fan of actors, so he's completely supportive of anything & everything that you want to bring to the role. His writing is good, so there's just no need to a lot of improvising or adding on to the scene. 
He's like a kid. He gets really excited about the camera & the actors. He gets you excited about it. He was really generous while shooting the pharmacy scene, we did it a couple of times & he was like, "OK, that's great, we got it." 
I didn't say anything, but I had a look on my face & he looks at me & says, "What?" I told him that if we did it one more time, I think I could really nail it. So he says, "OK, everybody, set it back up, we're gonna do it one more time". Which was really great, because who the fuck am I? 
C&RV: Do you find it easier to act the way that Paul writes or do you like more specifics about the character?
PH: I like the way he writes. He really trusts his actors. I just shot my first short film "Mullitt" & found that really good actors will bring a lot to the part. It's been submitted to the Sundance Film Festival. Henry Gibson is in it. He plays a gay landlord.
C&RV: How did you get Henry Gibson?
PH: I met him at the first cast & crew screening of Magnolia. He came up to me after the movie & was very complimentary of my work. He was just a really sweet & nice man. While I finished writing the screenplay, I was watching Magnolia & thought he would be perfect. So I sent him a script & a letter never thinking he would have time or anything. Then a week later I got a call from him & told me he really liked the script. He had some great ideas & said that he'd really like to do it which was great.
C&RV: Any experiences or advice while making your own film that you can share for aspiring directors?
PH: This was a really interesting experience for me making my own film. Just write something that you would like to see & everyday just do something to get it done. Whether that's talking to somebody about being in the film, trying to get your crew, give your script to people, etc. 
When you start working on films, you meet people & develop relationships. If you write something good, you'll find that people will want to help you make it. Don't listen to any of the conventional wisdom. You don't have to kiss up to people or sell your soul to make a film. 
A huge lesson that I learned from Paul is that he's really excited about what he's doing. More importantly, he's a nice man & he's nice to his cast & crew, so they have a tremendous amount of respect for him. 
They all have a good time on the set. If people believe in the project, they will do anything to help out. Paul shot Magnolia for six months, but everyone remained positive & would do anything for him. He also comes to work extremely prepared. 
If you think everything out ahead of time, half of your job is done when you get to the set.
C&RV: What else is on the horizon for you?
PH: In the spring, I finished filming In Memory of My Father, Ghost World with Steve Buscemi & I have a small part in Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. But I've had the most fun shooting my own short film which I'm also acting in.
C&RV: Thanks for your time.
PH: Thanks a lot man. I frequent your site & I'm really honored to be a part of it.
And now, the moment some of you have been waiting for: The Winner Of The Poorly Planned Facebook/Twitter  Contest. The winner is Max Watts. Max wins a copy of PTA's 6 Music Videos DVD and having any future contest regulations/limitations named in his honor.

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rolling Road Show Screening There Will Be Blood

Throughout the month of August, the Rolling Roadshow Tour has lined up 9 venues across America to screen films starting in Los Angeles with Jackie Brown to a rooftop in New York showing Godfather 2. August 8th, they have decided to show There Will Be Blood: (thanks @jeradams)

One of the most celebrated releases of the past decade, THERE WILL BE BLOOD is acclaimed auteur Paul Thomas Anderson's most epic film to date. Set in the uncharted Southern California of the turn of the 20th century, the film follows ruthless oil man Daniel Plainview as he toils his way from lowly prospector to cruel magnate and crushes all of the little people along the way.
The film's scope is huge, on par with a picture like CITIZEN KANE. It also tells a version of the America myth, a rags to riches story through treachery and backstabbing that acts as a great metaphor for American industrialism. The cinematography of the vast and empty Western landscapes is breathtaking. The unsettling and daring score by Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood is superb. Add to this grand narrative the unbelievable performances by Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano as the ill-fated preacher boy, and THERE WILL BE BLOOD rises to the status of masterpiece.
What better place to see this beautiful film than in a boundless field in Bakersfield, California -- where much of the film takes place -- and in eyeshot of an actual oil rig? We'll be enjoying this show at the Kern County Museum.  
General Info: Screenings begin at sunset. Please bring your own chair or blanket. Restroom facilities will be available. 
Kid Policy: 18 and up; Children 6 and up will be allowed only with a parent or guardian. No children under the age of 6 will be allowed.
Visit/Bookmark this page to purchase tickets to the show, as they are not yet available. If any of you end up attending the event, feel free to pass along your thoughts/reviews to me for potential inclusion on a slow news day.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Flashback Friday: Exclusive Mark Rance Interview

Today we take you back to August 21st, 2000 when our site first posted an exclusive interview called "Reliving 'That Moment'" that focused on Mark Rance. My own interview title offering featured on the banner. On topic: Mark was the filmmaker responsible for creating the feature length documentary following Magnolia from pre-production to projection that can be found on the newly released Magnolia Blu-Ray disc.

Reliving "That Moment" with Mark Rance
Mark Rance & his company, 3 Legged Cat has been a pioneer in creating supplemental footage for special edition releases. Mark made a name for himself working for Criterion on their LaserDisc releases such as Silence of the Lambs, This is Spinal Tap, El Cid & Lord of the Flies from 1991 - 1995. 
Mark then helped establish New Line with the ground breaking Platinum Series DVD’s. Mark was an integral part of many of the early releases including Spawn, Blade, Lost in Space, Nightmare on Elm Street Collection, Detroit Rock City, Austin Powers, Dark City, The Corrupter, Pleasantville & more.  
It’s Mark’s work with Paul Thomas Anderson that immediately comes to mind. He worked on the commentary tracks for both the Criterion LaserDisc of Boogie Nights & New Line’s first DVD Platinum Release. 
He followed that up with his work on the Hard Eight Special Edition for Columbia/Tri Star before tackling his most ambitious DVD project to date. That Moment, A Magnolia Diary, is a 74 minute intimate look at the creative process following PTA’s latest film from conception to creation. 
Not your typical promotional documentary or featurette,  That Moment shows you the highs, lows & especially the hard work required to make a film. I spoke with Mark about his relationship with PTA, making “That Moment” & his future projects. 

C&RV: When did you first meet PTA & get involved with the Boogie Nights releases on DVD & LaserDisc?
MR: I had already been given the assignment to work on the Criterion LaserDisc of Boogie Nights, when we met really briefly at the Los Angeles Film Critics Award luncheon. I went over to an apartment where he was living. I got there early so I was in the building sitting on the steps across the door from the apartment & he comes up carrying groceries. 
There's this young woman following him carrying groceries as well. "Hi I'm Paul, how are you doing?" I really didn't put two & two together until everybody sat down for the interview & I realized, "Oh, that's Fiona Apple." She sat there during the interview drawing pictures & listening. We did that in the living room of his apartment in January 1998.
C&RV: How did the Hard Eight DVD come about. Did PTA seek you out?
MR: Yeah. I was at a screening of one of my friend's films & we ran into each other. Paul says, "You gotta help with this thing". We began recording the tracks with Philip Baker Hall while he was still writing Magnolia. We probably did about six hours worth of recording. This is my tendency. I like these longer interviews & try to reduce them down to fit. Edit them to sound chatty without them being chatty. 
There was a lot to talk about on this film. When it was edited down, we had one full track & a half hour worth of material for a second track. We dedicated the first track to PTA & Philip on his first film & making the thing. The second was dedicated to isolating the soundtrack cues & talking about Rysher. I wanted to make the ultimate commentary about first films, bad experience & successful experience.
C&RV: Rumor has it that Columbia/TriStar was not happy with one of the commentary tracks that PTA did & his comments about Rysher. The word inflammatory comes to mind. Did anything have to be reedited for the release?
MR: Yes. When the thing was submitted to Columbia, they reviewed it with their legal department & asked us to take out all the stuff referring to Rysher. Around that time, MGM had been sued by a writer who did not receive proper credit on a commentary track. The suit went through & the guy won. 
That made some of the studios nervous about what people might say on these things. It's that whole issue when an opinion is libel. It took them months to decide this & Magnolia was in production. I came on the set & I was thinking exactly what Paul said. Let's go around & interview everybody that worked on Hard Eight.
C&RV: Whose idea was it to isolate the score on the second commentary track?
MR: I wanted to do that because I'm always fooling around with the format. I loved the score & sort of by accident put it up against the picture without any dialogue. I thought in that in a couple of cases, when you do that with a movie, it becomes a different movie in a good way. In addition, the soundtrack's not available, so it seemed like a good idea. 
C&RV: And include the alternate closing credits song [Aimee Mann's "I Should've Known"]?
MR: Yeah, it was a surprise because he was singing that song during one of the commentary recordings to loosen up. I knew the song really well & thought these lyrics are kinda cool for this movie. I had it better in a rough cut, the timing was cooler. 
They're was a better edit. It's off a few frames. The really interesting thing is that it's the exact running time of the original credit sequence. The great thing about working with Paul is that he lets you surprise him & I try to.
C&RV: Tell me about recording his commentary tracks. I know you prefer to do extensive interviews & then edit them coherently to the film? Is that what you did with the Boogie Nights & Hard Eight?
MR: There's a lot of stopping & starting. I'm a firm believer in not forcing people to watch the movies. It's the technique that a lot of studios have adopted because it's fucking cheap. But I also think it's the technique that's killing commentaries. 
That's why a lot of people don't want to do them anymore. There's so much resistance at this point from people who have heard all the dumb ones. There's more of those than the smart ones, that the idea of being trapped, having to come up with something as fast as the movies are generally cut is criminal. 
MR: In all of these cases & especially with Paul, I like just sitting & talking, seeing where he's at, trying to understand where he's coming from. Finding more if I can about the background to a particular movie, a particular scene, working with an actor, an idea in the film, films that he likes, what he admires in those films. Let those digressions take the conversation where it goes because often enough, it comes back.  
C&RV: It seems that PTA went from house to house doing segments with all the principal actors on Boogie Nights, were you involved with the recording?
MR: Paul & Dylan Tichenor did the original actors & I helped with the new additions of Melora Walters & Luis Guzman. When I got it, I made separate tracks with each voice. We dropped in the new interviews where Paul's solo commentary used to be since it duplicates the other commentary track. The new material will hopefully make the "Is Luis Guzman High?" joke pay off.
C&RV: Your condensed version of what happened to Exhausted?
MR: Paul toyed with the idea of including WADD: The Life & Times of John C. Holmes but decided to stay with the Exhausted footage from the Criterion LaserDisc. It ultimately came down to money & the director of Exhausted & New Line couldn't agree on a price.
C&RV: Moving to the Magnolia DVD, with PTA’s public comments about not wanting to do a commentary track for this film, did you explore other possibilities such as a cast & crew, actors, composer or film critic [Roger Ebert recorded one for New Line’s Dark City Platinum Edition]?
MR: No commentary period. No analysis.
C&RV: Did you guys explore other supplemental material such as the Charlie Rose Show, The "Cops" Footage or the Worm subplot?
MR: We did talk about all that kind of stuff, but he really didn't want any more of the deleted scenes on the disc. He was very specific about that. Paul's vision here was a simplified DVD with the fewest buttons to push. After Paul saw the work done on New Line's Detroit Rock City DVD, he called me up & said, "OK, Mark we got to talk about this. What the fuck were you doing?"
C&RV: I assume PTA chose the Magnolia 12 chapter stops as well?
MR: Yes, I think the beauty of it is that it emphasizes, as Julianne Moore says, the operatic structure. It's in movement, it's in passages. It's not in scenes. These scenes interconnect. There's an association building up between the characters, the lives they lead & the meaning of those lives. Paul is dead on about this & he told me that you could probably do it with one button or chapter. It's probably coming. Someone's gonna do that again.
C&RV: How did “That Moment” come to fruition?
MR: It was Paul's idea. He told me that I would be the only one on the set & "do my thing." He had seen a documentary I made called "Mom". He told me to try & document everything. It was that simple. There was no other direction or list of things to get.
C&RV: Tom Cruise, was noticeably absent from the film. Were there any limitations to your filming or access?
MR: Cruise's people asked that he not be filmed. The only limitations were my availability as I was working on multiple projects for New Line.
C&RV: It's surprising to see Tom Cruise in the outtakes then?
MR: We thought since we didn't have him in the documentary & Tom liked those outtakes, thought they were hysterical, & that they would represent his participation. Paul & Tom had a great relationship, so it really wasn't a stretch to include them.
C&RV: Was there every any tension on the set between you & the cast & crew?
MR: The only time that happened was when one of the actors was ready to start work & didn't want to be distracted. He made a good point that when the second camera is there, his peripheral vision would catch that & he's not sure where to play. It throws him & I understood that. The way that I was taught to make films is that it's not the camera, it's you. It's your job as a filmmaker to be human, to be present, to be the person you are. You just happen to have a camera. 
You do things to make them familiar with you holding the camera. In this way, you develop a more intimate relationship with everyone around you. Try to minimize the idea that they should feel like there's something different between you with the camera & without. That's just the whole style. Not to over analyze this, but interviews tend to separate you. The power switches from the star to the interviewer. In that imbalance, you get less. 
People are less willing to talk. They become guarded. If you show that you are not threatening them, then you get different kinds of footage. Like walking up to Bill Macy to ask him what he thinks about the script is sort of like walking up to Macy for the umpteenth time & asking him a stupid question. That's the way he talked to me all the time. If you needed a laugh, just go say something to Macy. 
C&RV: How much footage did you shoot?
MR: 128 hours. I had two very good people logging the stuff. We started thinking about structure & because we didn't have a lot of time to edit. I kept shooting. We decided on the most linear structure. It could been much more of a mosaic or organized in a different manner. The diary thing just became the guiding rule because there was no time to play with it more than once. The first edit was eight hours. The second edit was four. Then it hovered around 2:20 - 3:00 hours for a couple of weeks. I showed the cut to Paul three times after it was less than three hours. Paul gave me notes three times & we finally ended up at 74 minutes.
C&RV: Did you have complete freedom in what footage was ultimately included?
MR: Yeah. Paul did give me suggestions on where to trim it. There was plenty to choose from & that is always a problem. Throwing away a lot of good stuff early was kind of painful, but it was the only way. If you hang on to something, then you would have to hang on to two other things to explain it. You want to try to avoid adding voice over & let it evolve from the camera's point of view. 
C&RV: Was the very funny exchange between Paul/Fiona spontaneous or scripted? How did it come to pass?
MR: Spontaneous. I came upstairs & Paul said watch this. They did it again later in the evening at dinner. It wasn't quite as funny because she couldn't move around as much. They probably did some version of it at home. It was on the night it went into wide release (January 7th). We were about to get in a car & drive around to the various theaters & see the audience reaction.
C&RV: The last shot shows PTA listening to Aimee Mann’s Red Vines & working. Was this actual footage shot during the editing process?
MR: Paul was working on Fiona's Limp video. There was still this residue from the release of the film. Articles were lying around. There was just this feeling of exhaustion. I don't even know why I started shooting. I was just goofing around. I really love that song, too.
C&RV: What are your thoughts now looking back on the Magnolia Diary?
MR: The beauty of what Paul asked me to do...He's like the first person who really believed me as a filmmaker in ten years. I can't thank him enough. Making that thing for Magnolia was maybe the most challenging & the most fun thing I've had to do in all of this. As much as I like meeting all my cinema heroes & making these commentaries that is more meaningful to me. The fact that he liked it is even better.
C&RV: What future DVD projects can we expect from 3 Legged Cat productions?
MR: We're working on the Seven Platinum Series, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me & a John Waters box set for New Line. A Crow box set & Red, White & Blue for Miramax. I really want to do more work on foreign films but the market still isn't there yet. The market is still heavy into the science fiction films because they are the big sellers.
Tomorrow we will have details for an interesting upcoming screening of There Will Be Blood.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Contest: Win "6 Videos By PT Anderson" DVD (Updated)

In an attempt to help spread the word about our new site location and (nearly completed) archives revival, I will bribe you with winning a copy of the extremely rare "6 Music Videos With PTA" DVD.

How to enter the contest is simple and you can do it two different ways:

Number One: From Your Twitter Account
Post a message anyway you like but it has to include @cigsandredvines (so i know you did it and can easily track the entries) and our address: A 'Follow Friday' mention will count as well, if you prefer to spam a bit more subtly. 
Number Two: From Your Facebook Account
Post a message anyway you like but it has to include a tag to our group page (@Cigarettes And Red Vines for the same reasons as above) and our address:
Contest Entry Rules & Deadlines
Each time you do an update and tag us counts as one contest entry. Obviously you are not limited to only doing one or the other and you can enter as many times as you are willing to spam your friends and associates. 
The contest begins right now and will run until Midnight PST on Friday, July 30th, 2010. One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries. And part of the deal is I humbly request the winning party not be a knob and put copies up on Ebay.
Context: We were only ever given 5 copies back in the day when Paul printed them for us. I believe we gave away 3 of them to site readers and Greg and I kept one each.

My disc didn't come with cover art for some reason or another that Greg told me so unfortunately I will only be able to send you a copy of my copy in a basic case. The only thing you are missing out on is Paul burnt "Non Playable Side. Dummy" into the holographic information ring in the middle of the disc.

The videos are Michael Penn's "Try," Aimee Mann's "Save Me" and Fiona Apple's "Fast As You Can," "Limp," "Across The Universe" and, my favorite by far, "Paper Bag."

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Fascinating Update, 5:20pm:

This has been literally going on since 7am this morning, both averaging about a post every 15 seconds. In the blue trunks, hailing from Facebook: Max. In the red trunks, all the way from Twitter: Nigelfordham. Max's friend Ben got really pissed off at him for posting over 200 times by 1pm and is now trying to keep pace in an attempt to win it out of spite, which is hilarious. Thank you for the great response so far and entertaining the hell out of me along the way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Try Music Video Archives Completed

Paul Thomas Anderson's first music video "Try" by Michael Penn is a single shot video that is set inside a three quarter-mile long hallway in Los Angeles. In Michael Penn's words:

"I was having a hard time trying to figure out what to do for a video for this song, and I was talking to Paul about it and he had always expressed a desire to do it, but I really didn't think that he would do it, that he would be able to because he was cutting Boogie Nights at the time. 
We started talking about the song apparently he knew a location in Los Angeles which is the longest hallway in North America, it's 3/4 of a mile long, and we went there together and kind of looked at the location and we walked it while a walkman was playing the song and it was just about the same length to walk it as the song. 
That kind of suggested an idea and it worked out great because the video is one continuous shot so there was no editing involved so we were able to do it all in one weekend. And that's what we did. I think it took about 14 takes to accomplish."

There are a few interesting facts you may or may not have known and they can all be viewed here.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cigarettes And Coffee Archives Completed

There isn't a ton of information about Paul's short film Cigarettes and Coffee but whatever is known has been uploaded and archived onto our site here. The main feature of this page would probably be the only-known review written by VHS Nation about the short.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Flashback Friday: Exclusive Melora Walters Interview

For today's installment of Flashback Friday, we have a site exclusive interview with Melora Walters that was conducted in 2000 called "Minutes With Melora" because apparently alliterations are awesome.

Minutes with Melora
After numerous TV appearances in such shows as Roseanne, The Wonder Years & Seinfeld, Melora Walters appeared in supporting roles in the feature films Dead Poet's Society, Ed Wood, Cabin Boy & Eraser. But it's her roles in Paul Thomas Anderson's films that have propelled her into the spotlight. Each of her roles have continued to increase in PTA's films culminating with her starring role in Magnolia. I spoke to Melora about her relationship with Paul, bringing her characters to life & future film projects.
C&RV: How did you first meet PTA & get involved with Hard Eight?
MW: I auditioned for Paul. You know, one of those audition things? I guess Gwyneth Paltrow wasn't going to do the part of Clementine for a while due to a scheduling conflict, so I actually auditioned for that part. I read the script & thought this was the most wonderful script that I'd ever read. Then when I met him, I thought he was amazing. 
Anyways, Gwyneth ended up doing it & in the middle of shooting there was this little part & they asked if I wanted to do it & I was like "Yeah!" I wanted to work with Samuel L. Jackson & I wanted to work with Paul & I wanted to be part of that story. 
C&RV: So, did he mention the Boogie Nights script to you during or after filming Hard Eight?
MW: No. It came up a few days before he started shooting Boogie Nights. Paul said, I want you to read the script & look at the part of Jessie St. Vincent. I said they'll never let me play that part. Paul said, "Trust me." I told him that I didn't want to read it & fall in love with it & not be able to do it. That would kill me. He said, No. Trust me." Three days later, they were dying my hair that color!
C&RV: What kind of research did you do for your character in Boogie Nights? Were you involved in the infamous porno film visits?
MW: No. I did watch the "Exhausted" documentary & that was very important, but I didn't want it to be about the way porno is now. I felt Jessie St. Vincent was just so much of a misfit among these people. She was very genuine. She didn't take drugs. She was just an actress. She got married, had babies & she was an artist. That was what it was about.
C&RV: Did you have fun doing the commentary track with Paul on the new Boogie Nights DVD?
MW: It sounded kind of crazy with my children in the background. I drove Paul home afterwards & told him that I think we should do it again. He said, no, It was fine." I told him that we should do it again because I thought I was acting like Jessie St. Vincent & the kids were talking.
C&RV: How did you become involved with Michael Penn's "Try" music video?
MW: Paul just said, "Will you come down & be in this video?"  I said sure. It was only one day of shooting & was a lot of fun.
C&RV: How flattered were you that after the success of Boogie Nights, Paul specifically wrote the part of Claudia, the center of Magnolia, for you?
MW: It was the most amazing gift in the world. I was completely flattered. It's an opportunity that you dream of.
C&RV: When you first read the Magnolia script & your part, were there any doubts that you could handle the emotional intensity of Claudia?
MW: Not really. I did get scared. I get scared every time I start something new. I told Paul that I will go in my darkest depths as long as he was there to save me if I start drowning. And he was always there.
C&RV: So, did you lean on him heavily for some of the more intense scenes? Did he provide you direction or just let you go?
MW: It guess it was a combination. He created her. It's all there. You just know this person. She's alive on the page. So, then you just follow what he's created & he kind of steers you. It was very intimate & very intense.
C&RV: What sort of research did you do for Claudia?
MW: I started with the script & Aimee Mann's music. I had some friends in New York who had really horrid childhoods. So, I've been around people who have been damaged. I suppose we all have been damaged in one way or another. I don't know how, but she just made sense to me. 
C&RV: Was it hard to escape the character & not take it home with you?
MW: It's funny because when I think of it, it was very cathartic & I went home happy because all my demons came out during the day. But my husband did say later, when the film was finished, that he was glad I was done, because I was starting to bring it home. I didn't think I was, so that's kinda of telling right there.
C&RV: Tell me about singing Wise Up?
MW: That was the scariest part, because I can't sing. I was absolutely terrified. I listened to the music a lot. The whole movie set was such a safe, nurturing, intimate environment. That provided a great place where you were safe to do anything. 
C&RV: How many times did you have to shoot the last scene?
MW: I can't remember how many, but we did it quite a few times.
C&RV: What's it like working with John C. Reilly?
MW: He's amazing. He's really funny. He's really sweet.
C&RV: How has Paul helped your personal development as an actor?
MW: Paul was the first one who saw how I can change into different characters & he's taken advantage of that. Because his films are so amazing, then people see that, & it's giving me wonderful opportunities.
C&RV: Why is it that virtually everyone that works with PTA devotes themselves to him for the rest of his life?  What does he have that no one else does?  
MW: I don't say genius lightly. I really think that's what he is. He really taps into something very deep when he creates these stories. Whenever somebody can do that, the people around cannot help but be touched by it. You feel it & then you're just committed to it, because it's rare. It's like Mozart. If you listen to his music, it touches something in you. Paul's films touch something very primal within you & how can you resist that?
C&RV: Paul is so vocal about his respect for actors in general and for specific actors (you included).  Does this respect ever lead to expectations that you have found difficult to live up to?  
MW: I try not to think of those things. I try to simply focus on the part I'm playing completely & make that person as true & real as I can. I can't worry about the rest or I would go crazy. Paul is always communicating with me & making constant adjustments when necessary. I would do anything for him.
C&RV: Were you disappointed over the lack of recognition you received for Claudia?
MW: No. I just think that the only thing you can do is just try to do really good work. The rest is all gravy. I was disappointed that Paul didn't win because I think in the whole film business, he is one very unique voice. I mean he doesn't make big special effects movies. Although the frogs were a special effect. [Laughs] That made me really mad that he didn't win.
C&RV: Let's talk about your upcoming films. Tell me about Desert Saints with Kiefer Sutherland?
MW: I play an undercover cop. It was really fun. I haven't seen a final cut yet. Kiefer is a bad guy & you get the sense he can kill you at a moment's notice. And you think, don't go with him, but I turn out to be worse than him! So I thought this is gonna be fun!
C&RV: What about Speaking of Sex with James Spader, Jay Mohr & Bill Murray?
MW: I finished that in July & it was so much fun. It's a big comedy farce about marriage, sex, marriage counselors, therapists & divorce lawyers. I'm married to Jay Mohr & he has a problem. In the process of trying to save my marriage, I end up sleeping with my therapist & then all hell breaks loose.
C&RV: Tell me about Rain, which is being executive produced by Martin Scorsese?
MW: I'm getting ready to do that now. It takes place in a very small town with deep, dark secrets. I will be filming this in Iowa.
C&RV: What do you think about Paul working with Adam Sandler?
MW: I think it's great. We talked about me being involved, but I don't think I'm supposed to say anything about it yet. It's top secret! [Laughs] It should be really interesting & fun.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Exclusive: The Master Set To Shoot Very Soon

I caught up with Paul Thomas Anderson this evening at Fred Armisen's Largo show and briefly spoke about various things and we can exclusively tell you, despite everything else circulating the net (and hopefully without getting in trouble) that it sounds like The Master is set to shoot sometime next month. More details about things hopefully soon.

Semi-Unrelated Update: For those re-finding the site at its new address, finding it for the first time or for the people who have been e-mailing me questions all day: Welcome! The main site is/was in the middle of a major facelift/overhaul - we are not a new site and have been around since 1999. Everything will be in working order by the end of this month. Thank you for your patience in the meantime.)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Flashback Friday: Balsmeyer & Everett Creates 'Magnolia' Titles

Today's Flashback Friday highlights a great interview with the creative team at Big Film Design who were contracted to create Magnolia's composite clip underneath the main title presentation card. They discuss the process, ideas and working with Paul along the way.

Design director Randy Balsmeyer and his team at Balsmeyer & Everett designed and produced the opening title sequence for P.T. Anderson's enigmatic film Magnolia. Working from abstract design directions born out of Anderson's mental imagery, Balsmeyer and his team combined a blooming magnolia flower with street maps and images from the film to create a poignant and provocative sequence. The result is a dynamic explosion of contrast and color that heralds the fortuitous character intersections of the film's intricate storyline.
"Director Paul Anderson and editor Dylan Tichenor were incredibly secretive about the film. We never got to see the whole thing -- only the first reel and numerous scene clips -- so the project was quite mysterious. We knew only that the film was about the intersections of people's lives. The creative thrust for the title sequence came from Paul. 
The veins in flower petals had always reminded him of street maps, and he wanted to tap into that idea to communicate the notion of the characters' lives crossing and connecting, almost tangentially. He also wanted the opening to include a montage of images from every scene from the film so the viewer would subliminally recognize each scene when it played. 
He couldn't really define what he wanted much more tightly than that, so it was a question of us trying to see things as he saw them -- all in a six-and-a-half second graphical sequence. We came up with three ideas and showed video tests to Paul and Dylan. We had no way of knowing if we were on the right track, but one of our tests was exactly what Paul wanted. It would have been just as easy to completely miss the mark, but what I saw in my mind turned out to be the same thing Paul was seeing.
"We thought we were going to have to shoot original time-lapse photography of a blooming magnolia flower, but our research revealed that magnolias bloom only once a year, and we had just missed that year's bloom. We opted to use stock photography instead. After coming up with three or four passable clips, we found one that was outstanding. We had it scanned, skipped out a number of frames to get it to bloom in the allotted time, and brought it into Photoshop to do the paint work. 
We removed a number of branches that crossed in front of the petals and added all the veins in the flower."

"The street maps were scanned from a poster-sized version of the Thomas Guide to Los Angeles and combined with satellite photos of the corresponding geography. We turned them into 10K-20K textures in Photoshop and used After Effects to edit them into the order we wanted. As the sequence progresses, the map layer evolves from the street map to the satellite photo. We constructed the final layer of the sequence out of single frames from every scene in the film. 
Our original plan was to use high resolution film scans to preserve the image quality, but time got short and we realized it would be much more expedient to work off videotape. Everyone was nervous about it, but we ran a film-out test with a few dozen digitized frames from the dailies and were pleased with the results. In terms of the balance between the film frames and the other two layers, we didn't tweak the color of each frame individually; it was more a question of selecting the right frame to complement what was happening in the other two layers. 
We did quite a few passes like that, and subject matter made a big difference; for example, one particular iteration had a film frame with a big sign in it. Having the text from the sign showing up underneath the 'magnolia' title was very distracting. It was a one-frame blip, but it brought the whole sequence to its knees. In other iterations we had light-colored frames that washed everything in the frame out. We focused on the overall composition -- a balance of light and dark and considering the interplay of tonal values rather than colors. We wanted a feeling of randomness, so if we had too much repetition, the whole sequence would stall.
"The title sequence remained in three layers until the end, allowing us to manipulate any part until we were satisfied. As we developed each layer, we checked it against the other two. We'd look at a portion, and think for example, 'The picture looks good but the flower's overpowering it, so let's bring the flower down.' It was always a question of balance, which amounted to a great deal of fussing over six seconds of image. 
When we got the sequence to the point where we were happy with the total composition, we brought it together in After Effects and added the solarizing effect on a secondary pass. Gray Miller was the principal hands-on guy for the After Effects work, and he certainly deserves the lion's share of credit for making it work. 
In retrospect, there was some trepidation on our part going in because the project was so loosely defined. I was concerned that we could go around in circles for months, but it turned out to be one of the most straightforward, streamlined projects I've been involved with -- none of those horrendous dead-ends that you sometimes run into. In spite of our initial concerns, everything came together beautifully."

Paul Thomas Anderson's Unseen Short Film 'Flagpole Special'

You may or may not have heard of the 1998 short film called Flagpole Special which was written and directed by PTA starring John C. Reilly and the late Chris Penn. It was only screened once and suffered from technical errors throughout.

There isn't much known about it aside from it was the overall beginnings of what would become the Frank Mackey character played by Tom Cruise. I have created a page with all available information including the only printed review of the film that is known to exist. Click here to view the page.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Boogie Nights Opening Steadicam Map

While we wait for The Playlist to tell everyone what's happening next with The Master, I thought I would highlight this illustration from Empire Magazine which gives a mini graphical play-by-play of the nearly 3 minute continuous shot that opens Boogie Nights.

Paul Thomas Anderson Multimedia Archives

The multimedia content that is set to be featured in the archives on the main website is currently uploading to our flickr account. Content includes, but is not limited to hundreds of Oscar Ads, premiere photos, promotional items and foreign artwork. In the meantime of coding the actual website, you can click the name of the film you wish to see an advanced look at what is coming: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love