That’s the question I posed in this Variety article, titled “Are Directors Given Too Much Rope: Filmmakers take advantage of final cut freedom“. With a cavalcade of epic long, not-feel-good, idiosyncratic studio films (from “There Will Be Blood” to “Into the Wild,” “Zodiac” to “The Assassination of Jesse James….”), it seems that the studio-based maverick is back, I contend, possiblly enjoying the kind of free rein once enjoyed by the New Hollywood rebels of the 1970s. Is the system so desparate to get quality directors and talent that they’re willing to go to bat for bold, risky endeavors whose box-office is far from assured. Poor Fincher: “Zodiac,” his best film, is also his least seen.
The article afforded me the opportunity to speak with a handful of distinctive directors (Paul Thomas Anderson, Andrew Dominik, Todd Haynes) and just as interesting, the backers, producers and production heads (Art Linson, Richard Zannuck, John Lesher, Jim Stern) who stand by their men, even though they know the financial risks. If I do say so myself, it’s an intriguing peak at how artistic films can be made, even in Hollywood.