Film Voices: Interviews from Post Script

By Smith, C. Jason | Film & History, January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Film Voices: Interviews from Post Script

Smith, C. Jason, Film & History

Gerald Duchovnay, editor. Film Voices: Interviews from Post Script. State University of New York Press, 2004. 346 pages; $29.95.

Collected in Film Voices are seventeen of the most influential interviews from Post Script, chosen, arranged, and introduced by the general editor, Gerald Duchovnay. Founded in 1981, Post Script was designed to appeal to scholars from a wide range of disciplines as well as general readers interested in motion pictures. The accessible, interdisciplinary intent of the journal created a discursive space where the technical, academic, and popular regularly meet.

The Post Script interviews are well known for their subtle negotiations of the path between academic discourse and film production. Conducted by a wide range of scholars with diverse interests, the Post Script interviews are superior examples of how the interaction between interviewer and subject can rise to a true collaboration, pushing each to explore more fully the ideas behind action.

As Duchovnay notes in his introduction, "The essays in this collection bring together major Hollywood directors and actors, independent filmmakers, screenwriters, an animator, an editor, and several international voices" ( 1 ). A fine essay unto itself, Duchovnay's introduction traces an erudite cartography of the impressive array of speakers, tying these very different voices together around four themes that appear throughout the collection: "the concern for quality films, the influence of the business ('the suits') and money on filmmaking, the importance of the script, casting, and audience, and technology's impact on the filmmaking process" ( 1 ). The interviews themselves are notable for their clear and lucid questions, which belie preparation, and for substantive biographical and scholarly introductions.

The collection is divided into four parts: "Hollywood Voices," "Independent Voices," "International Voices," and "Behind-and in-the Scenes." Big name, if not necessarily big budget, directors are the focus of "Part I: Hollywood Voices." The first interview with Robert Altman (M *A *S*H[\ 970], Popeye [ 1980], and Gosford Park [2001]), conducted in 1981 by Leo Braudy and Robert P. Kolker at first seems a strange choice to open the collection as Altman firmly states, "I have no opening remarks because I have nothing to say" (17). Following this initial resistance to interviews, the ensuing discussion is packed with Altman's strong views on the relationship between direction, interpretation, and criticism. For Altman, the job of the director is to create the space for individual interpretation and not to imply a formalized theme ready for the "right reading."

He is resistant to criticism, he says, because he prefers to work intuitively, and formal criticism makes him too self-conscious during the process of creation and inevitably hinders the work of the director. Even of more concern, however, is his pronouncement that film is in dire trouble-"the patient is critical" (21 ), he asserts-due primarily to corporate influence that creates a profit over product mentality. Thus, Altman defends his choice of the "small film" that may be "slipped through" the system (21 ).

Francis Ford Coppola (interviewed by Ric Gentry in 1987) revels in the wonders of film technology following a television version of "Rip Van Winkle" he prepared for Fairie Tale Theater. Considering himself a technical director, Coppola reminisces about technical issues on Apocalypse Now and editing The Godfather for television while on location using an early VHS setup. Sydney Pollack (1983, Leo Braudy and Mark Crispin Miller interviewing) discusses the process of moving from treatment to script to production on Tootsie and the complex relationship between the director and the actors. The interview focuses particularly on the difficult, yet rewarding, relationship between Dustin Hoffman and Pollack on the set of Tootsie.

Dependence on the director's creative vision and trust in the actor's abilities and intuition is the basis of Ric Gentry's interview with actor-director Clint Eastwood. …

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