on memory

yes to you who mentioned Eudora, in response to my bog about her. How when memory flows through a person the living and the dead co-mingle. I am sorry not to be able to respond more exactly to those of you who have asked me questions. I don’t know, is the truth of it, I can only blunder along and perhaps in my blundering, as I search and search like someone who has lost their favorite sweater and is frantically throwing every single piece of clothing out of her drawer to find it, as I fumble in the tangle of stuff, others might join me or be interested in the detritus I leave all over the floor as I look for my favorite thing, which is of course in reality something I have never seen before, and will never see in my life: it’s something perfect, a thing I have made, and that’s not possible, so I will just have to keep searching, like everybody else. Maybe the dead find it, the perfect thing.

i am alive

This is indeed a living blog, though it has been hibernating for a while. I have been writing this book every spare second. But I will try now to write a little something more regularly. I have been teaching once a week at NYU, a course called Directing the Actor. My students are undergraduates. I am learning a lot, in fact. Each person reveals themselves when they direct. To become a better director is to become a more self aware person. The ones who stutter and over intellectualize, I have tried to help them find their center, their gravity–and their confidence. The link to the actor is intimate– it is something shared privately. Teaching them the importance of taking the actor aside. Of speaking less, waiting till they have the words. Finding the simplest way always. Sometimes it’s an image. To help them find their instincts. The class is more effective when everyone sits watching a scene in the round, as close as possible, almost on top of the actors. that’s what film is like. It’s not proscenium acting. To develop an ear for truth, and not to let fake moments get by. To prepare a scene, make sure it has hills and valleys, and yet always emphasize listening. If there is one secret, that’s it. Always bring the actors back to listening to each other and as a director always listen. the most important quality for a director of actors: empathy. To feel what the other feels. To achieve transparency.

Barbara Browning. Dreams in films. Lions.

Here is something I am excited about: Barbara Browning’s first published novel, The Correspondence Artist, is coming out in February. I think it’s a unique, deeply modern book. Also sexy. Perhaps some of you would enjoy it. My opinion goes beyond the fact that Barbara is my best friend. We met in college. She appeared in my earliest, experimental films, usually naked. With her permission I will post some of those. They are very different from what I do now; my interests are earthier now. My first impulse for making films was to actually capture dreams I’d had. For me, this was magic. Read the rest of this entry »

on writing. tidal waves. Eudora Welty

My son tells me a mega-Tsunami is expected to hit Manhattan and wipe it out entirely. Understandably, he finds this disconcerting. So do I. All chaos is disconcerting. Read the rest of this entry »

about seeing from the outside and whether it has value

Recently I was told I have a choice, I can continue to make films the way I have, idiosyncratic films that are hard to describe in a sentence, or I can try to make films that have a chance of being more accessible to more people, like maybe a genre film that I put my stamp on. And if I continue the way I have, I have to accept that I may never be a popular filmmaker, according to my adviser. I don’t know if that’s true. All I know is, I do what is in me to do, and I avoid making films that I feel could also have been directed by someone else. In that case I would rather stay home and write fiction or just be with my kids. I don’t try to be obscure–I always hope I am making a film for masses of people–but I want to tell the truth as I see it. Maybe I am overly stubborn. I don’t know. Every time I read a comment from you all, I have to say it reminds me that there really are people out there who understand the films, that they mean something to you, and that’s very encouraging. Read the rest of this entry »

On rehearsal and shooting in Ireland.

I am sick today. It snowed. It doesn’t snow often in Ireland so the roads are pretty much just left as they are out here where I live, and we all slide around as best we can. Someone asked in a comment about whether or not I rehearse.  The only time I really rehearsed scenes in depth was for “Angela”, when I was working with a ten year old and a six year old child. Read the rest of this entry »

In defense of cliche. A man from Mississippi. Christmas.

There is a man from Mississippi who wants to see Pippa. Great. I wonder if there is an art house nearby where he lives? Sir? Maybe I can get a print there. It’s heartening to hear from a family man who cares about my films–not that my audiences are always female. That’s not my experience at all.

Someone asked about rehearsal. I will write about that tomorrow if I can.

A word in defense of the cliche: In Pippa, I tried driving straight into cliche’s rather than doing everything possible to avoid them. Cliche’s are often cliche’s because they are true. And they are so true they get worn out. I wanted to face certain cliches –like the one about the man who keeps leaving for younger women, or the woman with a past–and find a fresh way to organize an old story.

On another note, I saw the best Christmas movie recently. It’s called “What Would Jesus Buy.” It’s a documentary about this man called Reverend Billy who was running for Mayor of New York, and the head of the “Just Stop Shopping” party. In the film, he and his choir cross the country in a bus going to malls and trying to get the people of America to buy less crap made by underpaid children in foreign lands. You should see what happens in Disney World. It sounds didactic, but it’s a brilliant and moving film.

Pippa is about to come out in the States on November 27th. Feeling hopeful.

First of all I want to thank those of you who are writing to me about Pippa. It’s so heartening to see that people –at least a few people–are “getting” the film. I just came back to Ireland from 8 days in the States promoting Pippa, first in LA then NYC. I think maybe in Pippa I have stumbled on a character and a story that larger numbers of people can identify with than usually happens with my films. I have been described as a filmmaker who makes up characters it’s hard to love or even like Read the rest of this entry »

Thinking about writing again.

Having been through it a good few times now I can recognize this feeling of confusion I have about what to write next. I have too many impulses, and I am falling in love with one idea after another with a very particular fickleness and lack of concentration that always happens to me when I have finished a film and it’s about to come out. Read the rest of this entry »

What happened to Pippa at the Toronto Film Festival

Toronto turned out to be one of those shards of light that illuminate the days around them, before and after. I wasn’t expecting much, Read the rest of this entry »

  • Jacob’s Folly in other countries; film news

    Hello friends. First of all, about Jacob in Brazil. There is no publisher for the book there yet. But it is being published in Spain by Siruela and in Germany by Fischer Verlag (currently the translations are in progress. In Spain it comes out this fall). I hope a Brazilian publisher will buy it. The [...]

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  • Gary Winick’s Birthday

    Gary Winick’s birthday is today. He died in 2011.  Gary was the reason I returned to film making. I had decided to write fiction, because I couldn’t get any money for my films and I didn’t want to make the kind of films that I could get money for. I couldn’t stand to wait for [...]

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  • Greta Gerwig, Maggie’s Plan

    The funny thing about the article in “Deadline Hollywood” announcing my upcoming collaboration with Greta Gerwig is, the description of the plot is entirely wrong. I was asked to talk about the film, and, not wanting to give the story away, I made something up in a bumbling sort of way, then saw it reprinted [...]

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  • Blue is the Warmest Color

    I saw “Blue is the Warmest Color”. Leah Sedoux and Adele Exarchopoulos are sublime. Totally true and transparent. Beautifully realized script. But the director should have hired a lesbian to direct his love scenes. The actresses looked exhausted and confused, like they were in a fake orgasm marathon. The expert Kechiche seems to have had [...]

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  • The art of casting

    I just watched a film called “Casting By”, about the legendary casting director Marion Dougherty and her influence on the next generation of casting directors, as well as the history of the art. It’s true that casting is a kind of art– without the right casting, a part is ruined, the story is derailed, and [...]

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