Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: The World Unites In Super Bowl Spot For 'Independence Day: Resurgence' Watch: The World Unites In Super Bowl Spot For 'Independence Day: Resurgence' Watch: 19-Minute Interview With Todd Haynes About Making 'Carol,' David Bowie, And Much More Watch: 19-Minute Interview With Todd Haynes About Making 'Carol,' David Bowie, And Much More 'Interstellar' Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema Reteams With Christopher Nolan For 'Dunkirk' 'Interstellar' Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema Reteams With Christopher Nolan For 'Dunkirk' How Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez Made Josh Brolin's 'No Country For Old Men' Audition Tape How Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez Made Josh Brolin's 'No Country For Old Men' Audition Tape 'Gravity' Screenwriter Jonas Cuaron To Direct Zorro Movie 'Z' 'Gravity' Screenwriter Jonas Cuaron To Direct Zorro Movie 'Z' Exclusive: Trailer For 'The Automatic Hate' With Joseph Cross
, Adelaide Clemens, Deborah Ann Woll, Richard Schiff & Ricky Jay Exclusive: Trailer For 'The Automatic Hate' With Joseph Cross
, Adelaide Clemens, Deborah Ann Woll, Richard Schiff & Ricky Jay Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner 2' Starring Ryan Gosling & Harrison Ford Officially Starts Filming In July Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner 2' Starring Ryan Gosling & Harrison Ford Officially Starts Filming In July Soundtrack For Martin Scorsese's HBO Series 'Vinyl' Includes Otis Redding, The Meters, Edgar Winter, Foghat, More Soundtrack For Martin Scorsese's HBO Series 'Vinyl' Includes Otis Redding, The Meters, Edgar Winter, Foghat, More Review: Kurt Cobain Conspiracy Theory Docudrama 'Soaked In Bleach' Review: Kurt Cobain Conspiracy Theory Docudrama 'Soaked In Bleach' All The Songs In Cameron Crowe’s ‘Aloha’ Including David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Beck, & More All The Songs In Cameron Crowe’s ‘Aloha’ Including David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Beck, & More The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 10 Best Concert Movies Ever The 10 Best Concert Movies Ever 21 Movies About Weird, Kinky Or Compulsive Sex 21 Movies About Weird, Kinky Or Compulsive Sex Coens Say There’s “A Good Chance” That ‘Hail Caesar’ With George Clooney Will Be Next Coens Say There’s “A Good Chance” That ‘Hail Caesar’ With George Clooney Will Be Next The 11 Best/Worst/NSFW Money Shots From Lars Von Trier's Very Shocking & Provocative 'Nymphomaniac' Trailer The 11 Best/Worst/NSFW Money Shots From Lars Von Trier's Very Shocking & Provocative 'Nymphomaniac' Trailer Ben Affleck & Matt Damon Tried To Convince Joaquin Phoenix & Casey Affleck To Reveal The Joke Of ‘I’m Still Here’ Ben Affleck & Matt Damon Tried To Convince Joaquin Phoenix & Casey Affleck To Reveal The Joke Of ‘I’m Still Here’ The Playlist Bares All: 20 Unforgettable Nude Scenes The Playlist Bares All: 20 Unforgettable Nude Scenes 15 Classic Teen Rebellion Movies 15 Classic Teen Rebellion Movies 16 Great Revenge Movies Worth Hunting Down 16 Great Revenge Movies Worth Hunting Down

NYFF: Brian DePalma & Noah Baumbach Discuss Friendship, Fraternity & Filmmaking In A Career-Spanning Conversation

Photo of Cory Everett By Cory Everett | @modage October 10, 2012 at 10:02AM

At first glance, the idea of pairing filmmakers Noah Baumbach and Brian De Palma together for an onstage conversation doesn’t seem to make any sense at all. After all, what would the filmmaker behind intimate character pieces like “The Squid & The Whale” and “Greenberg” have to say to the master stylist responsible for “Scarface” and “Carrie,” whose career has been built on swooning, impossible camera moves and nail-biting suspense? This idea only appears unconventional until you see Baumbach (accompanied by girlfriend/actress Greta Gerwig) at two showings of DePalma’s latest, “Passion,” which is now screening at the New York Film Festival. As it turns out, the filmmakers are friends and mutual admirers, and organizers have been trying to coordinate an onstage pairing for years.
3
DePalmaBaumbach 2

Another pair of clips were shown from “Dressed To Kill” and “The Squid & The Whale,” which supposedly showed autobiographical sides to each director. De Palma had been a shy nerdy kid just like Keith Gordon’s character Peter (he even built a circuit board just like the one in the film). Baumbach’s autobiographical elements in ‘Squid’ have already been much discussed so he seemed slightly weary of dredging up the topic again, saying that sometimes the most personal elements in the films are not the obvious story beats but sometimes smaller details that make their way into the film. De Palma agreed, saying “most of the film [sequences] that people think I dream up usually come from some direct experience I’ve had.”

When DePalma was a student at Columbia he and a friend that used to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to pick up girls, so for “Dressed To Kill,” when he was looking for some place to stage a set piece, he thought back to these experiences. “[Always] walk the location,” he advised to other filmmakers. The elder auteur also warned that sometimes setting out to make an autobiographical film can have the adverse effect. “What happens when people make autobiographical films, the problem is that they have the least insight into themselves sometimes. And they usually miscast themselves.”

Baumbach Squid

Turning the focus back to De Palma, Baumbach praised his idol’s elaborate choreography as well as his innate understanding of onscreen geography. “The more I make movies I feel like -- and this is something that nobody’s better at than Brian -- is figuring out really simple things like geography and taking advantage of the space and making it clear. It sounds kinda simple and maybe not even that interesting, but there’s a clarity [in his filmmaking that allows him] to do all these other things.” De Palma added, “Coverage is like the worst thing in the world for me because you’re just recording what the actors are doing. I’m always trying to maximize what the actors are doing. And you have to watch the actors very carefully.”

He also had some quibbles with most modern action sequences. “In shootouts you never know where things are,” De Palma said. “People are shooting and people are fall. You’re going, ‘Are they close? Or are they far? Am I in danger?’ And it drives me crazy to watch things like that." DePalma cited his famous Odessa steps sequence in “The Untouchables” (itself a nod to a sequence in “Battleship Potemkin”) as an example of the kind of shootouts he prefers. But executing action sequences that give the audience a sense of the space “require a lot of thought.” Baumbach said that he makes shot lists with the DP for pre-production but then allows himself the opportunity to change everything once he gets the actors on the set. Making sure the actors are being taken care of was something both directors agreed on the importance of.

This article is related to: New York Film Festival , Brian De Palma, Noah Baumbach


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates