g The Film Panel Notetaker: TimesTalks presents Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez

Friday, April 06, 2007

TimesTalks presents Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez

3/30/07 TimesTalks presents Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez

Collaborators in Over-the-Top Moviemaking

The whole thing started with a New York Times commercial which I found a tad excessive. But I dug the moderator, New York Times Magazine editor at large Lynn Hirschberg who seemed to have an endearing history with Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.

I love seeing good friends hanging out. I really do envision my future as a filmmaker as one working with her friends. I really enjoy those times of bouncing off ideas, going over logistics and through each other’s experiences, learning the best ways of doing things, and having a common accomplishment with battles you can recount in fun. These guys had that and I loved it. They met on the festival circuit when QT had Reservoir Dogs and Robert had El Mariachi. They then coincidentally had offices down the hall from one another and would go to the same place for lunch and spin webs about how they were taking over Hollywood.

When they spoke of the movie, I feel as though a lot what they talked about was what I’ve already read in most coverage of the film’s release. Robert had the idea when he was looking at posters at QT’s place, they then decided to make it just like the good old days by keeping the scratchy film, missing reels, double feature-with-trailers-in-between thing, yadda yadda.

They wanted to take everything that those wall-sized posters and melodramatic trailers promised about the movie and then actually make it happen… and maintain what was charming about the films. QT said it was discouraging to see all the piss taken out of movies. It’s a fucking tragedy to see that the theatre-going experience today is just renting seats and watching commercials before movies (which I found funny considering that was what happened before the talk)—it’s simply no fun getting high and watching commercials at the theatre. If it’s done right, it’s a ride; not just a movie. That's what they wanted Grindhouse to be about.

They said that Robert’s movie, Planet Terror, was a horror movie because it couldn’t happen and that QT’s movie, Death Proof, was a horror movie because it could happen. Robert had the idea of the machine-gun leg while sitting in traffic which I think is interesting for no other reason is how people really want to know where something that wacky came from. I think it’s totally hilarious—I laughed out loud when I saw her in the trailer, and apparently when he called Rose with it she said, “that’s dope.” And I agree. A machine gun leg is indeed dope.

QT said he had the idea for the Kurt Russel’s story in Death Proof from some discussion of getting a stunt team to pimp out his car and making it totally death proof with roll bars and what not. I always wanted to pimp out my car that way… and with cool hydraulics, sound system, and faux fur upholstery. None of that DVD player/Playstation crap though. If you’re driving, you’re driving. And the kids can deal. Anyway, I thought it amusing that QT said that he thought his performance in Dusk til Dawn was one of his best. Not that the other ones were great, but the best of his performances.

I appreciated one question from the audience during the Q&A because I always wonder about this in other artists because I know how I am about this stuff: Do they ever feel self-doubt and when they do, how to they persevere? I related mostly to Robert’s response, who said he always goes through thinking his shit sucks. But the self-doubt is what makes it happen—it’s part of the process. Try not to fall back on what’s easy. If there isn’t fear in it, it’s not worth doing. I’d interject that even if you do fail at what you’re trying, the process of failing is what makes you succeed. I see too many of my closest friends doing nothing because their afraid of failing. This makes me sad.

Then QT said that he gets through being scared by striving to make the best shit ever. In the case of Death Proof, he decided he was going to make the best fucking car chase ever in an effort to find the ceiling to his talent (I’ve read him saying this before). He approaches everything with trying to make it as kick ass as possible and yes he’s scared, but that push is what makes him so awesome. See, this is why I don’t care what people say to me about QT and his “bravado” because if it takes him to that genius place, just let the guy go for it. Who cares how he acts. The lesson is always, if it’s scary to you, do it.

He went on about how he hates CGI shit, he prefers the grit of real life stunts. He hates new movies where you have no sense of speed, geography, and direction. Car chases these days are jumpy as they’re covered with 15+ cameras. I see what he’s saying—can you imagine that awesome scene in Indiana Jones when Indy’s going under the truck and through the window to get to the Nazi bad guy driver? That would have been so fucked if they shot it today. Of course QT cited more sophisticated films like French Connection, Bullet and Vanishing Point, but I like throwing in how I relate.

Anyway, something QT said meant a lot to me. He was talking about how in a weird way, he could have actually been happy at his Video Store job. But he had that artist’s soul burning in him and even though he was swimming in movies and that’s all he cared about, it was burning in him to craft them. I always wonder what it would take for me to stop all this and go home, but I feel the burn too. (if only I could be as kick ass as QT!!)

The thing that made an impression on me most was their concept of having movies to sell. I love how pragmatic it is because they keep the cost down and they make movies of which they are the audience. They get to do whatever the fuck they want. There’s no body telling them no. They are allowed experiment with big time no-nos-- like in Robert’s case, Sin City that’s all black/white and voice over. That is the way to be a filmmaker. For them, it seems to be this weird balance of being and artist and selling out at the same time. I think it’s a good way to get to produce your art—make it accessible and profitable. They said that it’s people like Bob and Harvey (who were in attendance) who allow this type of filmmaking relationship to endure.



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