Magazine article Screen International

Paul Schrader: 'Television Has Lost Some of Its Allure'

Magazine article Screen International

Paul Schrader: 'Television Has Lost Some of Its Allure'

Article excerpt

Writer/director was talking ahead of Rotterdam Film Festival masterclass.

Paul Schrader

Writer-director Paul Schrader, who will attend the International Film Festival Rotterdam on Monday (29 Jan) to give a Masterclass, has predicted that he will finish his career working in cinema - and he has warned that TV drama is not the haven for filmmakers that it recently seemed.

“I think I’ll finish out working for the cinema particularly now that television has lost some of its allure,” Schrader said. “You know, there are 500 scripted TV series now being made. Do you really want to get into that world?”

The veteran filmmaker added that the “so called freedom of TV is not as free as you might think”. He said that his latest feature, First Reformed (which premiered in Venice and which is screening at IFFR), could not have been made for television, which is why he plans to stick to making movies. “I think I’ll try to ride that old broken-down horse into the cinematic sunset.”

First Reformed

First Reformed sees Schrader moving into Ingmar Bergman territory. Its main character, the anguished priest played by Ethan Hawke, is suffering the same crisis of faith as the pastor in Bergman’s 1963 classic, Winter Light. Schrader throws in references to Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice (some levitation) but mixes them with the same machismo found in his screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

Schrader revealed that he was inspired to make First Reformed after meeting Pawel Pawlikowski, the Polish-born, Oscar winning director of Ida.

“Before I became a screenwriter, I had written a book on spirituality and so it was obviously a subject that interested me but once I started making movies, I didn’t think I would ever make a film about the spiritual life. I was too interested in empathy, action, emotion and sexuality,” Schrader said. Then he saw Ida, “a very austere” film shot in Academy ratio in black and white, and met its director.

“I left that dinner and said to myself ‘you’re going to be 70 soon. Maybe it’s time for you to write one of these.’ That is how it began,” Schrader said of the meeting with Pawlikwoski. “Even though, it is part of a journey begun when I was a young man, the actual creation of it is fairly recent. …

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