“This year has really illuminated that. I remember the pressure about [Birds of Prey] opening weekend and hitting those box office projections. It doesn’t serve anybody. It’s just a different way of experiencing cinema, and I think it’s worthwhile in its own right. There’s always going to be something about seeing an epic masterpiece for the first time, and letting that be a memory. “I was watching Mank, and one of the lines is something about how movies are essentially just memories. By the time you finish it, it’s already a memory. But does it have to be? What if it’s more about the longevity of a piece, and thinking about it, encouraging someone else to watch it, or watching it again. Or even stopping it! I think it’s interesting to have the ability as a viewer to stop the movie. I used to think as a filmmaker that it was awful and getting in the way of that pure viewing experience, but there is something exciting about this new way that we’re interacting with the art form and hopefully in some ways it preserves the art form. It allows these movies to be seen, and seen in a different way.”One of the reasons you were given for Dead Pigshaving difficulty nailing down distribution is that it’s not an English-language film. I wonder if you think attitudes towards that have shifted, especially given the whole debate right now regardingMinari’s Golden Globe nomination in the Foreign Language Film category.“It’s only going to get more like this. When Dead Pigs went to Sundance it was still a bit of a rarity, in that it was mostly in Chinese but there was English. Within Sundance, we were not in the U.S. Dramatic competition. Subsequently, Lulu Wang ended up making The Farewell, and in terms of Chinese to English ratio, it’s almost the same as Dead Pigs. But she also had producers who were American, and it was in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at Sundance a year or two after. “Parasiteis a very different thing, but that happened. And then Minarihappened. And inevitably, it’s going to continue because you have this new generation of American filmmakers that are children of immigrants or immigrants themselves and have this bicultural look at language. A lot of the films that are most central to American cinema have dealt with that dual identity. The Godfather is about immigrants! It’s deeply unfair to relegate us to foreign language because we are the future of American cinema.” “What it means to be American is to have a conversation with your home country as much as it is about the American flag. Let’s grab back that definition!”
"Melancholia." During the Cannes Film Festival press conference for the film, Lars von Trier responded to a question about the use of Wagner's music, by calling himself a Nazi, and saying that he sympathized with Hitler. Despite apologizing for his remarks, he was banned from the remainder of the festival, and declared a persona non grata by festival organizers, a first in the history of the festival.
You recently announced that you had formed your own production company, Rewild. Was developing your own projects always a goal?“Honestly, I think things happened so quickly for me afterDead Pigs, and into Birds of Prey, that I didn’t really think about what the next step is, and how best to create longevity and sustainability for my own career. I realized that a lot of actresses were specifically doing that because they wanted to be able to create work for themselves and support other actresses so that there’s good work out there for women. I feel similarly, in that I’m very much a writer-director, I love the process of development and finding stories that are interesting, figuring out what the right take and angle is — it’s very journalistic in that way. AfterBirds, it was a more conscious decision to fortify myself within the industry so that I can protect myself and I have a little bit more say in the work that I do going forward.” Did you run against obstacles in terms of getting your vision across while making Birds of Preyin a way you hadn’t with Dead Pigs?“Absolutely. That’s without a doubt, when you’re doing your first feature and it’s purely your own vision. We were lucky because we had such a small budget that our financiers just left us alone. And we edited it in my living room. The flip side is the completely different experience, when there’s so much pressure on a movie like Birds of Prey— a lot of business and economic pressure, and a lot of stakeholders. Margot [Robbie] and Christina [Hodson] had been developing that story for two to three years before I even came in. I felt very lucky to be able to take that to the finish line. But what I’ve learned is that I don’t want to be a director for hire. I just like the writing process too much, and it’s so much a part of filmmaking to me, that to separate that out and give that over to someone else, and come on a little later in the process felt a little unnatural to me.”This touches on something that feels like the natural next in the conversation about gender equality in Hollywood. First, we just want women to be hired. But now, we’re past that. It’s about why they’re being hired — for what and on what terms?“It’s a more difficult conversation because it’s more nuanced. It’s easy to say ‘Look, we’ve hired this many women,’ or ‘We’ve turned that male role into a female role.’ Women sniff that out; we know what really speaks to us rather than what feels like a sad attempt to corner that female market. It’s a conversation that has to speak to who the producers [are]behind the writers, directors, and talent. Do they have their own production vehicles that can help them be a part of that process all the way through? Are the right pillars of support there for their careers so that they can be protected and have a long-term career? The phenomenon that I really hope will cease to exist is the many women who have made incredible first features, or incredible second features and then it takes them like 10 years to make anything else — thatis a problem. There are so many more conversations to be had, and we should not yet be patting ourselves on the back because we’ve hired a few women. Like,Oh really, lean in?
"Rocky IV." Sylvester Stallone wanted to make sure the boxing scenes looked real in Rocky IV, so he instructed Dolph Lundgren to actually hit him. A punch to the chest left Stallone in intensive care for four days.
Believe me, I’m leaning the fuck in!”This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
"The Godfather." The cat held by Marlon Brando in the opening scene was a stray that Coppola found while on the lot at Paramount, and was not originally called for in the script. So content was the cat that its purring muffled some of Brando's dialogue, and, as a result, most of his lines had to be looped.