Film Talk: Directors at Work

By Wheeler Winston Dixon | Go to book overview

BENNETT MILLER

I first met Bennett Miller when we were both guests on National Public Radio's Anthem series, as part of a panel discussion on digital filmmaking with producer Peter Broderick in the spring of 1999. I had just finished my book The Second Century of Cinema, which explored the future of digital cinema in what was then the dawn of the twenty-first century, and Peter Broderick, as the CEO of Next Wave Films, had just produced Christopher Nolan's first film, Following (1998). When Bennett and I met, we immediately hit it off. He had just finished his first feature-length documentary, The Cruise (1998), a seventy-six-minute portrait of the eccentric New York tour guide Timothy Levitch. The film was the result of typically intense research by Bennett prior to shooting: after focusing on the figure of Levitch as his protagonist, Bennett shot some eighty hours of digital video as exploratory material, before he actually began shooting the film in earnest.

Before the NPR show, Bennett and I fell into a discussion of the about-tobe-released Blair Witch Project (1999), which was the hot topic at the time, and bantered about the future of film as a viable production medium. When we went on the air, we all talked about whether or not film would disappear entirely in the new millennium. I held out (reluctantly) for film's inevitable demise, simply as a matter of business economics that the industry could not ignore. Because The Cruise was a low-budget digital film, I was sure Bennett would agree with me that film's days were numbered. But to my surprise, he felt that, unlike the manner in which CDs had replaced vinyl records, film would remain the dominant standard within the industry. I'm pleased that he was right, and I've often thought about that conversation since.

Flash forward to 2006. With the release of Capote in 2005, Bennett at a single stroke had established himself as a major director. As I prepared to pick up my conversation with him, I wondered what he had been up to between that film and The Cruise. I knew he had gotten an agent, but seven years is a long gestation period for a film. Most directors, once they're hot, immediately strike

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Film Talk: Directors at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • The Old Masters 1
  • Ronald Neame 3
  • Val Guest 23
  • Budd Boetticher 38
  • Albert Maysles 58
  • Cult Visions 81
  • Jack Hill 83
  • Monte Hellman 98
  • Robert Downey Sr 119
  • New Voices 137
  • Takashi Shimizu 139
  • Jamie Babbit 160
  • Bennett Miller 174
  • Kasi Lemmons 188
  • Index 205
  • About the Author 218
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