What about Peter Sarsgaard? He’s so fascinating.
We talked on the phone before he came there, but we didn’t have any time together—he was on another movie before, and I was out in Oregon. So he came while we were already shooting, and I think it was pouring rain the night I met him, and I was like, “Do you know how to drive a boat? You’re going to be driving a boat. Nice to meet you.” And just talking over the boat engine about how we saw this character; we were already driving out to where we were going to shoot. We were thrown into it together and so you’re finding it on the way. It’s tense. You have to start trusting someone, and you know you’re asking for someone’s trust who doesn’t know you at all. I mean, all these actors, they have to trust you. I have a totally amazing crew—a really, really together crew—but we were stretching our means quite thin.
So how do you and your co-writer Jon Raymond work? What’s your process?
Jon probably has a different way of answering. Jon’s a writer; he wakes up every day and he writes. That’s not what I do. So we’ve made four films together, and we’re friends, and we talk every day, so it’s very hard for me to exactly say when something started and when something didn’t. It’s sort of in the flow of life at this point.
What ultimately fascinates you about this world?
It’s interesting, but as you dive into this, I think it would have been easier for Jon and I to make a film about some of the dogmas of the right, than it is for us to go in and judge some of the dogmas of the left, you know?
But this world [Oregon, environmentalists, activism] is really interesting to us; over the course of time we probably went and saw 30 or 40 dams. And we’d go with this painter friend of mine, Michael Brophy, who’s been doing storyboards for me for a while. He’s an Oregonian—as is Neil Kopp—so they are people who spend a lot of time camping, and out in the woods. So at first it’s camping trips and talking about and visiting stuff, and wondering: “How did this water get here?” or “What used to be here?” So it really is harder and harder to say, here’s the starting point. But if you live in Oregon, you’ll eventually be thinking about the forest and the dams. It’s sort of easy to understand why a culture of environmental activism has come from there.
Do you have an idea what you’re going to do next?
I can hardly handle that question right now. I’m swimming around some ideas. I’m working with a different writer than Jon Raymond.
Is it someone you know?
We’re just meeting, and we’ve been talking... [laughs] I haven’t even talked about it with people I know, so I don’t want to talk about it into a microphone.