In this charming 14-minute interview at his California ranch in 1982, cinematic titan Frank Capra candidly recounts how he got his first shot at directing, his philosophy of “one man, one film,” the learning curve he faced as a young filmmaker, and important storytelling lessons such as the fact that drama should encourage the audience to shed tears, not the actors.
Capra is a true Hollywood legend, having ascended from humble origins in Sicily to being an Oscar-winning director three times over for “It Happened One Night,” “Mr. Deeds Goes To Town,” and “You Can’t Take It With You.” In the interview, he discusses strategies to get the best performance out of your actors: namely, rehearse minimally and always provide an audio recording of a scene when an actor has to reshoot their lines in close-up. He also talks about holding the audience’s attention by increasing the tempo of scenes, thus staying one step ahead and always threatening to leave them behind.
The interview was conducted in the winter of Capra’s life, when his filmmaking years were over. Admirably, instead of an attempt to glorify himself, what comes across here is a healthy sense of pride in a concrete set of accomplishments. Here, Capra is an auteur possessing a deep-seated sense of responsibility for his product. [Eyes On Cinema]