How to talk like a 1970s filmmaker.

If you want to be a 1970s filmmaker — and who doesn’t? — you should try and pick up a secondhand copy of MOVIE PEOPLE, edited by Fred Baker with Ross Firestone. And grow a beard.

angels with hairy faces

The book is a sparky collection of interviews with snazzy personae from the U.S. film biz, and serves as a neat primer on How to Talk 70s. Here’s Mr. Cool, Quincy Jones:

‘I’m very wary of the cat who says “I do my thing and zap/zap/zap/zap/zap — it’s great!” If he doesn’t bleed a little, something’s off. I know Ingmar Bergman is supposed to knock out his pictures in two or three weeks, but I’m sure that underneath he chews up twenty tons of rug. He won’t even leave his own city, so don’t tell me what a real secure cat he is. He’s as uptight and sensitive as anybody else. You’ve got to be to care that much.’

Then they ask Terry Southern (the man who actually wrote the bits of EASY RIDER that required writing):

Could you be more specific regarding these negative experiences you’ve had as a screenwriter?

TS: ‘I could of course be devastatingly specific about it, but this would plunge us into the grotesque realm of badmouthery and personalities — whereas it is probably much more to the purposes of your project if we can somehow restrict it to the technical and practical aspects of screenwriting. I mentioned the negative side only because it would be misleading not to. Suffice it to say that with the exception of STRANGELOVE, of the films I’ve worked on there isn’t one that would not be infinitely improved by the absence of the director.’

As a director, and fainthearted auteurist (Orson Welles: “A good film can be made by anybody. Great films are made by the director.”) I always take a perverse pleasure in director-bashing. It’s worth bearing in mind that truly bad films that started as good scripts are also made by the director, or else the producer. Fish stinks from the head.

Grim.

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One Response to “How to talk like a 1970s filmmaker.”

  1. […] with fascinating, unique finds of his own. Where else would you find something like…oh,  Quincy Jones talking about Ingmar Bergman? “I know Ingmar Bergman is supposed to knock out his pictures in two or three weeks, but […]

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