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“Go See It In IMAX”: Paul Thomas Anderson Says ‘Interstellar’ Is “Beautiful,” Talks Shooting On Film & More

"Go See It In IMAX": Paul Thomas Anderson Says ‘Interstellar’ Is “Beautiful,” Talks Shooting On Film & More

Paul Thomas Anderson dominated the New York Film Festival this weekend. His seventh feature length effort, “Inherent Vice” screened on Saturday (read our review), a press conference followed (read a recap here and watch the video) and then the filmmaker joined NYFF committee selection head Kent Jones on Sunday for a 90 minute conversation about his recent influences, music videos he likes, films he thinks you ought to know and much more (most of the talk is recapped here).

Naturally, the conversation turned to film formats, film stocks and what PTA often referred to over the course of the weekend as “nerd talk.” Anderson said that the filmmakers that have banded together to save Kodak film stock are doing valiant work, but that it’s “still a temporary reprieve. The death notice—there’s a sign on your back that’s saying you’re still gonna get executed— [is still there],” adding, “[And so] more needs to be done [about the potential extinction of the film format].”

During the discussion, PTA and Jones discussed all the filmmakers who continue to work with celluloid, including Quentin Tarantino, who is shooting “The Hateful Eight” on 70mm, J.J. Abrams, shooting “Star Wars: Episode 7” on 35mm and of course Christopher Nolan, who has yet to shoot a film digitally. “Christopher Nolan is at the front lines of all of this, I have to say,” Anderson said about the struggle to keep celluloid viable for filmmakers. “He’s made a beautiful film, if anybody gets out to see ‘Interstellar’ when it comes out.” Jones then quipped sarcastically that he thinks people just may just go check out the movie, which lead to a lot of uproarious laughter. “I’m just trying to put in the good word, he’s a decent filmmaker; you probably haven’t heard about this one.” Anderson joked. “Support this filmmaker.”

“But don’t fuck around, go see it in IMAX,” PTA said turning serious. “Brave the line. Do it, bite the bullet,” he stressed.

Quentin’s much more vocal about it though,” Anderson said of his friend. “He wants to tar and feather people. It’s turned into one of his movies. ‘I’ll cut your fucking ear off.’” Jones noted some filmmakers like David Fincher feel totally different and he could “see film disappear tomorrow” and it wouldn’t make a difference. “He’s got a great articulate argument for people on the other side,” Jones said.

“I stay out of it,” Anderson said sheepishly followed by a laugh. “I know I throw my hat into the ring for what I like, but I find it difficult getting on anybody because it’s their bag,” Anderson said of individual taste. “If it’s your bag, and you’re into it…” he said sounding not unlike his laid-back “Inherent Vice” protagonist. “I wouldn’t tell you what to do, and you don’t tell me what to do.”

There was much more from the NYFF conversation, so here are some additional highlights.

Anderson on Digital Vs. Celluloid
“I haven’t done that yet [shooting digitally]. I suppose that’s all well and good for people. I happen to think that…it looks different. Our audience is really attuned [to the look of digital]. I think that it [looks] worse. I would hate to think that there won’t be more artists like Robby Müller out there knowing the art of movie lighting.”

The Art & Skill Level Required To Be A DP Shooting On Film
“To be a good movie lighter —to be skillful at it, to be great at it— is a life long job. The great ones who are out there, Roger Deakins, Robbie Muellers—the list is long. Any of these guys, through time, are masters of what they do. [They’re] so skillful, and that skill was required from them, because they were shooting on film. I don’t want to say anything bad here, but the skill level has been diminished. If you shoot on video, you don’t need to put any lights up, because [the digital cameras can shoot in super low light]. I would hate to think that that’s going to be lost, that that job will go away. But I’m not pessimistic about it. “

Asked about the technique of filmmakers adding in grain, flicker and techniques like that to their digitially shot film.
“That’s fucking cheating. “

More film vs. digital
“There really is a movement among filmmakers right now —where they’re desperately encouraging filmmakers who are coming up, filmmakers who are around and producing stuff right now— that if you have a choice, please shoot film. There is no financial incentive to shoot digitally if you’re at a certain budget level. Obviously, it’s much easier for younger filmmakers to sort of pick up a camera and create some stuff.”

The influence of music videos
“Music videos were a huge thing too and it planted music together for me, and probably for a lot of people of my generation. [It] probably ended up making music a more important product. Someone like David Fincher wrote the vocabulary for the music video.” [Check out our feature on Fincher’s music videos right here].

His favorite music in movies moments and his love for Jonathan Demme films.
“Obviously ‘Something Wild’ would be one for sure. Oh god, when we get on [the subject of] music and movies we could do that for a while. Wes [Anderson] is doing great [with] that too. Jonathan Demme has always had this sort of sweet spot for me, the way he kind of mixes things up with different background cues. There might be something moving from talk radio to blossoming out [into the fabric of the film]; minor things like that that were so eclectic but never felt like you were watching just the best of someone’s record collection. That can be a bit nauseating and not exactly right. ‘Here’s my mixtape and here’s my movie afterwards.’ ”

“Raising Arizona”
“To that end, that reminds me of Carter Burwell‘s score for ‘Raising Arizona,’ you remember that yodeling? I remember seeing ‘Raising Arizona’: it took like 15 minutes before the title came on, and my head spun around. Is the movie going to happen? I’d never seen anything like it and haven’t really since. But that was a huge thing, seeing ‘Raising Arizona.’”

Working With Jonny Greenwood
“[Jonny’s] particularly inspiring to work with as a musician [and] as a person. [It’s] hard to figure out exactly what to say other than it’s a joy. He’s constantly on my mind in a good way. [He’s] kind of one with technique and style, and he’s got good instincts. He’ll pick up the guitar sometimes, which is nice and the movie called for it. It was a great thing just hearing him play around. One thing in particular was towards the end, he had a piece [of music] that he had [lying around] for a number of years and he finally found a home for it [in ‘Inherent Vice’].”

“Inherent Vice” opens on December 12th in limited release.

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Dryer, for some reason PTA fans and David Finchers are threatened by Chris Nolan. They go on every board to bash him. Your feelings toward Nolan can easily be applied to Anderson & Fincher-especially after seeing Gone Girl, Panic Room, The Master, and There Would Be Blood.


Here’s the bottom line. Snobby film enthusiasts CAN NEVER, EVER allow themselves to acknowledge Nolan as a top tier director. Being a fan of a filmmaker that’s so successful commercially, doesn’t feel special or different enough.

If you have you have your own head up your ass, you wanna feel like your going against the grain, then you can self-righteously look down on everybody else that doesn’t realise the genius of a more obscure filmmaker. They don’t wanna be in the same fan pool as "the masses".

That backlash started all the way back in ’08 after TDK. And it will continue as long as it makes pretentious snobs and fanboys feel cool and different.

I absolutely loved TDKR, and cannot wait for Interstellar. The man is one of the most exciting contemporary filmmakers. And besides, rail against him all you want, Nolan will always have the respect and admiration of his peers, as PTS demonstrated. And you’re still gonnabuy your ticket for Interstellar anyway.


In reference to Dryer’s post: The only movies Nolan has directed since the Dark Knight are the Dark Knight Rises and Inception. I somewhat agree with Dark Knight Rises, but if you think Inception was just "set pieces stylishly strung together" I think you completely missed the point of the movie. There were so many important themes present that to walk away with it and have that mindset towards it seems very naive to me. I have very high expectations for Interstellar and think it will be his best directing effort to date.


Nolan is a lesser filmmaker because he skews story and logic in favor of spectacle ; the ‘thematics’ you speak of are nonexistent and childish. It’s nothing to do with commercial films. The problem is that the bigger his projects have become the less regard he’s given to continuity and story; and the brain dead audience accepts it because of the flashing lights, loud bangs and artful dialogue. Spielberg’s entire career is based on mainstream commercial success but the difference is he doesn’t aim for the lowest denominator of an audience. If you’re easily manipulated and influenced by what your being fed commercially than you lack the art of critical thinking.


Ladies & gentlemen, it appears we have some pompous assholes in the comment section. People who feel Nolan is a lesser filmmaker for making mainstream pictures that can play to a large audience as well as have some real thematics. These are the douchebags who probably view Spielberg, Hitchcock & Kurosawa as lesser people because they too made commercially successful mainstream pictures.


You’re correct Anderson and Fincher are at the top of their game. Nolan has fallen severely since the success of The Dark Knight by only making films which are empty spectacles that like a magic trick only work within the moment. Dark Knight, Inception, DKR and likely Interstellar are noting more than set pieces stylishly strung together with pompous dialogue. I’ve nothing against commercial success, but stop trying to push cat food as caviar.


Always cracks me up with people hate on Christopher Nolan. P.T. Anderson respects him enough to name check him, he’s a member of an elite group of filmmakers that can do whatever they want at the moment (Anderson, Nolan, Fincher are probably at the top of their game, at the moment), so when you say "oh, he’s a studio shill," I laugh, because really it’s the other way around… he’s got the studio by the balls, he’s in such a position, and with near carte blanche, that he basically tells the studio what movie he’ll be making, on what delivery schedule, at what cost, and how the final work will be marketed and distributed… Like Fincher, he’s pretty much living Orson Welle’s dream of having the greatest, biggest train set a boy ever had at their disposal. (Anderson, meanwhile, is living Robert Altman’s dream of creating American art on a very big canvas). It’s funny that in America, where we virtually insists everyone becomes a success or they’re just not trying hard enough, we love to tear down those that have reached the pinnacle of success… rip ’em to shreds once they’re at the top. Then there’s always that pocket of the artistes du cinema that disdain success, and thinks that any commercial triumph is crap, just because the great unwashed liked it and it made money. As for digital over film… I’m certain this will result in the same kind of online jihads that Apple vs. Android garners. Chuckle.


Nolan is a studio shill-you’re an idiot if you fall the play book WB has been feeding you, it’s pure Hollywood.

billy gunn

You really milked this 90 minute talk for every article you could get!

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