But compared to writing a novel, where you can be God, I did the Bay of Pigs invasion in six pages once, and there were 50,000 guys with boots that I didn't have to pay, and all those extras; we didn't have to pay them.— John Sayles
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To this day, I get rewrite offers where they say: 'We feel this script needs work with character, dialogue, plot and tone,' and when you ask what's left, they say: 'Well, the typing is very good.'
I've always felt like I was on the margins. Once upon a time that's what independent used to mean.
For me the writing, when I'm going to direct it myself, is really just the first draft, and I don't change it very much; I only change it on average about two lines per movie.
Basically, if you could get a good trailer out of the script, Roger had no objection to you making a really good movie. He liked it if you did. He liked the more cleverness and ingenuity you could bring to it. He just wasn't going to give you any more money.
Fahrenheit 9/11 took public domain information that should have been on the news every night and put it in a film that a lot of people went to see. But still Bush has never had to answer those charges.
Well, acting is cheap; I knew all these actors who weren't in the Screen Actors Guild yet, and it happened that they were all just about thirty years old.
I always feel that there are no final victories and no final defeats.
But it's true that America is in a hole right now. There are a lot of dead fish in the water.
There are genres I don't care for, and I've never worked in those genres, and then sometimes there are people that I haven't liked and I haven't worked for those people. But if I feel like there's a movie that I would like to go see, I'll jump into it.
I remember being out here at the Sunset Marquis, and whoever knocked on the door, I would take that picture that I was writing and I would put that in the typewriter, so when I had the meeting, they would say: 'Oh, you're working on it right now?'
There are very few distributors left to do off-Hollywood movies, and those distributors generally have got thousands of movies to choose from. So you're pretty lucky if you get one to even take your movie and it's pretty rare that they pay anything upfront.
I never actually do rehearsals. That's one of the reasons that I write those bios and if I can meet with the actors I'll meet them or talk to them on the phone. What I want is for them to come on set knowing their lines and knowing who the character is.
I probably wouldn't have done as many as I did in one year, which I did when I was trying to raise money.
When I read a story or see something play out in front of me I say, how come nobody's made a movie or a television show out of this? This is something that belongs in the conversation. Certainly that's what interests me about a project.
I take more jobs when I need more money, if I'm investing in films.
I take fewer when I don't. Or if something really good comes along, I usually find a way to do a good job on it in the time that I've got.
There was a widespread indignation in the American media.
They were saying, 'How can you make a movie during an election that's about politics? What are you doing? Are you trying to influence people's lives?' To which my response was, 'Well, I hope so.'
The hardest thing about movies is doing take 12, 13, and 14, and finding new ways to do the same lines. So the early takes are actually easier and I think there's more surprises in them.
I don't write [screenplay character] biographies beforehand.
I usually go in knowing some sequences: this is where I want to start, this is where I want to end.
There were not fifteen people in the story department and twenty-five producers and stuff. And Roger had produced 1,000 movies and directed a couple of hundred, and their comments were always very, very specific.
Assumptions allow the best in life to pass you by.
I like to act. I work for scale. I don't have an acting agent. I'm in the book.
I think I got spoiled and that writing a short story and getting it published, or writing a novel and getting it published, you pretty much get to do the first, second and third draft yourself without a whole lot of interference.
I see very small movies being financed by crowdfunding.
If you're a well-known actor or celebrity of some sort, you can probably raise between one and two million. I don't have that kind of cult [following].
Those are fun, especially if they're going to shoot them in four weeks, because you know they're not going to mess with anything you do, so it can be very imaginative.
Sometimes people can't afford to work for you, or they're not interested or available, and you hate to have written the whole movie with somebody in mind and not get them.
I don't have a social agenda. I just don't choose to ignore what's in front of me.
Not that I've always loved the movie when they finally come out, or if they ever come out-because many of them don't come out-but I've gotten to work with really good story editors and stuff like that.
The hardest thing about movie acting is that if you're playing a character who changes within the movie, you've got to do that, but you've got to do it out of sequence, because we never have gotten to shoot in sequence, and that's really, really tough.
Michael Moore, whether you like him or hate him, has done something very important.
We just said, 'Okay, you're in the movie.
Bring what you would bring for a three-day weekend and I hope you like the way you look in it because once you're on camera, that's your wardrobe.' But it worked; it worked and we were very surprised.
I'm never at a loss for new projects.
The less money and time you have, the more you haveto plan ahead and be careful about your coverage. It's like a gas:it expands or contracts depending on the size of the container.
My argument has always been that this is not an anti-Bush film, it's a pro-democracy film. And if Bush comes out on the wrong side of democracy, that's his problem.
If you write a movie for Roger Corman, it's going to get made. You saw it almost the next day.
It's a mixed crowd at the dogs - black, white, hispanic - but to Walt they all look like Jackie Gleason. Heavyset guys with big plans and polyester souls.
I never thought about being a writer as I grew up.
A writer wasn't something I wanted to be. An outfielder was something to be. Most of what I know about style I learned from Roberto Clemente.
And it was out in the theaters in two weeks.
This is not, 'We're going to develop twenty-five and maybe one's going to get made,' so the first three things I wrote got up on the screen and, good, bad or indifferent, I got to see them on their feet.
I've always got five or six things that would either make a good feature or TV show. And you just never know. You go and you pitch and it may be exactly what they're looking for, or they may stop you after two sentences and say, "Oh, we've already done something just like that."
As a screenwriter I'm often writing in genres where there have been thousands of movies; whereas when I direct movies they tend to be in between genres. They tend to have a little bit of a genre to them, but they're really about the people, and they're people we haven't met before.
In a movie you have all these logistical problems;
all these practical problems. But you're also going to have people come who can do things that you can't do, and you get to direct their talents.
I figured somebody wrote a story who had a typewriter and I thought that movies were made by the cowboys and that they just said, 'Okay, you fall off the horse this time.'
I figured, 'When is that ever going to happen again?'.
So I basically set out the opposite way movies are made; I set out with a budget first. I said, 'What can I do well for $40,000?'.
When I was really young I didn't know that there was such a thing as a screenwriter. I wrote stories.
I made it about a three-day weekend so people wouldn't have to change their clothes a lot. We didn't have an art department; we didn't have a make-up department.
America is a very divided country now.
Not only are there red states and blue states, there are now red facts and blue facts. The right-wing believe in creationism. The left in evolution.
You get to say, 'Here's my philosophical idea about what the costume should like,' and the costume designer comes and gives you choices and sometimes they're all good, and I say, 'What do you think?' and they pick the right thing.
I certainly grew up seeing more movies and television than I read books, but when it came time to do the thing itself you don't have to hire a lot of people to sit down and write a book, so that was the story-telling medium that was available to me.