Here is the problem with most film interviews and most film interviewers (and I don’t necessarily exclude myself from this group): they’re too nice. Whether it’s because they’re fans of the filmmakers’ work or they just don’t want to piss off a publicist and risk future recriminations, most movie interviewers working in both print and video (but especially video) tend to stick to safe subjects on comfortable topics. Very few interviewers wants to ask about the movie that flopped or the scene that made them uncomfortable or tell a subject honestly that they hated their movie, because it makes your life and job a lot tougher when you do.
That’s why I love reading my friend Mike Ryan’s interviews at The Huffington Post. I’m not entirely sure how he does it — he might have some kind of telepathic pheromone manipulation powers, I’m not sure — but Mike has a knack for putting people at ease. And he does it while still asking some of those tougher questions — as in his new interview with “Prince Avalance” director David Gordon Green about the trajectory of his career and his recent turn into increasingly bland mainstream comedies. He actually tells Green “I wasn’t the biggest fan of that movie,” referring to his 2011 film “The Sitter.” And he basically speaks on behalf of the fans who followed his career from his humble beginnings on the festival circuit and wonder what the heck happened to the guy that made “All the Real Girls” and “Snow Angels.” And Green, to his credit, doesn’t storm out, doesn’t get defensive, but engages in a serious conversation about his choices and his motivations as a filmmaker.
It turns out that where many people saw Green’s medieval fantasy spoof “Your Highness” as a goof and a lark, Green saw a passion project; something he’d wanted to direct his entire life. And it was a lot more complicated to produce than its laid-back, stoner atmosphere might have made it seem (you could argue this is a big problem with the film, but whatever). So in trying to understand how a guy as talented as Green could make a movie as unambitious as “The Sitter,” you have to understand his mindset coming out of “Your Highness,” which is what he talks about in this quote:
“But look, it’s an incredibly complicated movie in terms of the number of logistics. And so, ‘Sitter,’ there’s none of that. ‘Sitter’ is literally a great group of people. I get my production designer that I’ve been trying to get into the studio game. I get my composers that I’ve been trying to get in the studio game. My producers I’ve been trying to get into — everybody joins me for a great time in New York. We make a movie that appeals to a specific group of people. It does what it needs to to make its financial ends meet and be responsible. But there’s also a version of that movie, of things that we shot, that are, by choice, not in what has been released of that movie.”
Then he goes on to explain how he tries to balance his ideas about comedy with those of the audience he’s trying to sell his movies to. And that’s just a small part of a long and really interesting interview. I encourage you to read the rest of it. And if you do your own interviews with filmmakers, take some notes. Or maybe invest in telepathic pheromone manipulation power augmentation surgery. I need to look into that myself.