Carol and I went to see Paul Schrader speak last night at Coe. Carol teaches there and in fact has Schrader's son Forrest in her writing class. I've read a few of Forrest's story. He's sure got the stuff, a real pleasure to read. And Carol says he a great guy as well.
Schrader spoke for nearly ninety minutes and every one of them was worth hearing.
* He said that the movie business was dying and that soon you'd be seeing theaters disappear. Like the publishing industry, Holllywood hasn't figured out how to use profitably use the new media.
* He was asked about the most difficult actor he'd ever worked with and he said Richard Pryor in Blue Collar (which I love). He said Pryor really hated white people back then and took it out on director Schrader and the cast. But, he said, Pryor's biggest problem was that he wanted to be the most popular comic in America and at the same time the blackest and angriest. Schrader said was impossible to be both. He said that whenever the cast turned against him Pryor then went into his charm mode and charmed them back to his side. Then once he had them again he'd turn on them.
* He said that now people were flooding film festivals with junk nobody wanted to see. It was aimed just at festivals not at the audience.
* He said that despite his strict religious upbringing he no longer believed in God. He quoted a South American writer: "We live in an age of religious feelings without religious beliefs." Fascinating.
* He doesn't think much of 3-D, said that it's been shown that our vision can't process it well.
* He said that he'd been told he could direct Rolling Thunder based on his own screenplay. But that when the movie had hopped from one studio to another the suits said no way could he direct. And they completely revised his script. He'd been on the set of The Wild Bunch and meant Thunder to be his Peckinpah flick. But to him the poor director and screenplay turned it into conventional melodrama.
* He spoke at length about the new technology in film. Sound, lighting and shooting in digital which he said will soon be preferred by the entire industry. Cheaper, faster, much easier to edit.
* He said that Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver was inspired by his own life and dilemma at the time and by a French film called Pickpocket.
And there was so much more.
Man, that was one of the finest ninety minutes of my life. I can see why he's in such demand as a teacher, which he is when he's between films.