Okay folks, this is pretty cool. At last year’s Austin Film Festival, Jonathan Demme and Paul Thomas Anderson sat down to discuss four of Demme’s films: “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Stop Making Sense,” “Rachel Getting Married,” and “Something Wild.” Though audio of the discussion has been available for a little while, video of the dialogue has finally made its way online.
Part of the “On Story” series from the Austin Film Festival, PTA and Demme got together in front of an audience to talk about Demme’s career and experiences in film. Right off the bat, PTA asked Demme how he got into directing. Demme claimed that he “fell backwards” into filmmaking, a notion he explains more fully at the top of the video. At first, he says he, “loved every script that I was offered the opportunity to do,” being grateful to simply have more work coming his way. Over the years, of course, he’s become a bit more discerning.
Demme’s not exactly humble when it comes to discussing his body of work. “What I love about my filmography is that I do fiction films, and also documentaries, and also performance films, and also television,” he claims. But it’s a statement with backing. Demme’s versatility has proven laudable and consistent throughout his career, and his willingness to venture into different or unfamiliar genres sets him apart from many working directors.
The two men spend a lot of time talking about camera work, with Demme explaining that there are shots and angles and movements “that are only yours.” Each director has techniques and tools that are only his/hers, no one else can replicate them exactly. Despite that, actors are the true magic of filmmaking to Demme, capable of creating the world of the film while staring into a camera.
Speaking of actors, Demme recalls that, during her audition for “Silence of the Lambs,” Jodie Foster told him, “I wanted the opportunity to tell you that I love this book so much and I love this part so much. The reason I love it is that because there’s all these movies with men going in and saving a bunch of people or doing one thing or another. But this story, ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ it’s about one young woman trying desperately to save the life of another young woman. And in order to do that, she’s faced with the overwhelming obstacle of all these men. They may be brilliant, but everywhere she turns, she’s faced with this.” Demme appropriated this theme, thinking it was brilliant, but he decided to cast Meg Ryan instead. Ryan was almost incensed at the offer and turned the role down instantly. Laura Dern was up next, but studio brass wanted a more recognizable talent (like Foster, who had already won an Oscar for her work in 1988’s “The Accused”). And the rest is history….
To watch Anderson and Demme talk more “Silence of the Lambs,” “Rachel Getting Married,” “Something Wild,” “Stop Making Sense,” and more, click play below. [via Cigarettes and Red Vines]