… this is the thing they say about great poetry or something — it’s like your own thoughts brought back to you with added majesty.
There is a certain resemblance between a work of art and a person. Just as one can talk about a person’s soul, one can also talk about the work of art’s soul, its personality.
The soul is shown through the style, which is the artist’s way of giving expression to his perception of the material. The style is important in attaching inspiration to artistic form. Through the style, the artist molds the many details that make it whole. Through style, he gets others to see the material through his eyes.
I don’t know if they understand me, but is the issue here the film or me? If its the film, I think—I’d rather people feel a film before understanding it. I’d rather feelings arise before intellect.
Film exists because we can go and have experiences that would be pretty dangerous or strange for us in real life. We can go into a room and walk into a dream. If we didn’t want to upset anyone, we would make films about sewing, but even that could be dangerous. But I think finally, in a film, it is how the balance is and the feelings are.
I see it as my duty to stimulate reflection on what is essentially human and eternal in each individual soul, and which all too often a person will pass by, even though his fate lies in his hands. He is too busy chasing after phantoms and bowing down to idols. In the end everything can be reduced to the one simple element which is all a person can count upon in his existence: the capacity to love. That element can grow within the soul to become the supreme factor which determines the meaning of a person’s life. My function is to make whoever sees my films aware of his need to love and to give his love, and aware that beauty is summoning him.
There are few images to be found. One has to dig for them like an archaeologist. One has to search through this ravaged landscape to find anything at all… I see so few people today who dare to address our lack of adequate images. We absolutely need images in tune with our civilization, images that resonate with what is deepest within us… to find images that are pure and clear and transparent.
… That’s what we’re always trying to get to in these films is that place where acting stops and behavior begins.
I ask my actors two things. I ask them to surprise me and I ask them to fail. … I’ve lived so long with my lines by the time I get on set that if they do my lines, I’m just bored. … I want them to do something new. I want them to own it. I want to make these big choices, you know? And then I will guide them. Then also, I want them to fail. I feel like if they fall on their face, if they can embarrass themselves, then they can also do great things.
I want them to bring something. When I cast people I’m asking them to be themselves. I’m looking for a collision between the actor and the character that I wrote.
I give them a script that’s kind of filled with challenges and instigations and then I’m hoping that they will be brave, courageous enough to go put that up on screen. Since I do work from a place of fear, the actors, to me, that I relate to are the ones that are scared.
I’m not a writer. It doesn’t come easy to me. It doesn’t come effortlessly to me. So how I’ve learned to write as a filmmaker is to just confront my vulnerabilities, my insecurities, my fears. Also my hopes and dreams, but I just write from a very personal place.
On life and filmmaking
Our life is very simple. We’ve stripped it down. Like for me, I’m trying to be good at three things. That’s it. I’m trying to be a good husband. I’m trying to be a good father. And I’m trying to be a good filmmaker. Now, granted, I fail at those most days, you know what I mean? But I’m still trying.
What was I going to put into the world? Was it going to be a story of vengeance? That would be a probably pretty satisfying [ending] for a viewer but it’s not necessarily something I feel in my heart. And I have kids and I don’t really want to put that into the world.
I don’t think that writers or painters or filmmakers function because they have something they particularly want to say. They have something that they feel. And they like the art form: they like words, or the smell of paint, or celluloid and photographic images and working with actors. I don’t think that any genuine artist has ever been oriented by some didactic point of view, even if he thought he was.
I think the point of cinematography, of what we do, is intimacy. Is intent, is the balance between the familiar and the dream, it is being subjective and objective, it is being engaged and yet standing back and noticing something that perhaps other people didn’t notice before, or celebrating something that you feel is beautiful or valid, or true or engaging in some way.