Simply known as the “seminar” for the students of the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, “Inside The Actors Studio,” hosted by James Lipton, has been an education for artists since it first premiered eighteen years ago. But despite the program’s title, Lipton has over the years also made room for directors to come onto his program. Below are five insightful filmmaker interviews with some of the today’s best living directors that every filmmaker should watch.
James Lipton on Spike Lee: “This would be a formidable body of work for any director but for one who is barely in his forties, it is an astounding achievement by any definition and standard. He defines for his time and for his generation the term filmmaker.”
Lee on why he became a filmmaker: “School ended in May. I just finished my Sophomore year. So I came back to New York trying to find a summer job. Couldn’t find one so with a super eight camera that I had gotten I just spent the whole summer going around shooting stuff in New York City. That summer happened to be the summer of the black out and that summer was also the first summer of disco and there were always block parties around everywhere and people would just plug up their turn tables to the streetlights. That was the first summer that the hustle came out so I made a film called ‘Last Hustle Brooklyn,’ which was real inter-cut with the looting from the blackout with the block party stuff. So that’s when I really decided I wanted to become a filmmaker.”
James Lipton on Martin Scorsese: “It’s very evident here tonight, obviously, that we are in the presence of a gentleman. A gentle man.”
Scorsese on what’s magical about filmmaking: “It’s interesting, when you cut a shot — that’s why I still love editing — you cut one shot and there’s camera movement and that sort of thing and it cuts to another shot it creates a third shot that’s in your mind that’s not there. It creates information usually that’s not there. It’s very subjective. That’s whats so magical about it.”-
James Lipton on Steven Spielberg: “I understand why he is America’s premier filmmaker. It’s because doesn’t watch films in screening rooms. He goes and buys popcorn and watches films with a real honest to God audience.”
Spielberg on how he found his calling: “I think it was ‘A Tale of Two Cities.’ It was required reading. How do your require a child of lets say 12-years-old to read ‘A Tale of Two Cities’? So what I did was just make little stick figures in the dog eared sections of the book. One frame at a time in different positions and it was like a flip book. I just did flip books and saw these images come to life and that was the first time I was able to create an image that moved.”
Francis Ford Coppola on the affinity between music and film: “Of course music and cinema are very related in that they are both linear mediums, they move in time and they are both spacial in that in music you have harmony and clusters and of course moving pictures are both spacial and linear, so there is a great affinity and natural affinity between music and film.”