Thursday, November 12, 2009

An Outlier

I was watching an interview with Quentin Taratino on Charlie Rose not long ago and really enjoyed the hour-long conversation that they two had together. I am thankful that there is a show on television where someone you might be interested in gets to sit down and answer questions in full without having to lose their train of thought due to commercial and promotional interruptions.

Charlie asked Quentin questions about “Inglorious Bastards,” the director’s latest film, and then moved on to more general inquiries about the larger subject of film-making. And I was delighted to hear what Quentin had to say about his process.

But before I go any further, I should disclose to you that I am a big fan of Quentin’s films because they feel authentic to me, the reason for which I understand better from his interview with Charlie.

Charlie asked him how he goes about writing a movie, how long it takes, and what the challenges are. Quentin first clarified that he is a writer/director, which is a different animal than those who just direct. A regular director looks over many scripts, books and project outlines to find the on that interests him or her, and that which they feel would make a good film.

Quentin says this differs a lot from a writer/director, of which there are few, who start with a blank piece of paper in front of them and start to write, then re-write, then re-write, and on. He says of this process that it is one of the most grueling that a human can go through, and yet, it’s also the most rewarding. For when the script it written, it’s really his baby. It wouldn’t have existed if his parents didn’t give birth to him.

Another rewarding bi-product of a writer/director’s wares is that they are able to develop a strong voice with remains in the project from beginning to end, and in fact, will maintain a flavor throughout all of the projects they write and direct through their lives.

A regular director, having taken the written work of someone else, does not tend to have a strong a voice, and will likely lose their own voice through their career.

The other thing I enjoyed in the interview was Charlie’s question about why Quentin loves films so much. Quentin said that, unlike other art forms such as writing, music, live theater, a film brings multiple disciplines together in a way that magically takes the viewer to a different place, and that it’s more intense than any of those single art forms alone. He also likes the feeling of watching a good film and being in the caring hand of a brilliant director.

It was clear to me watching the interview that he is able to do his craft so well because of his passion, which already existed at a young age when he worked at Video Archive, a movie rental store in Manhattan Beach, California. The woman who cuts my hair in that town, “Pat,” says that way back in the day she and her friends were aware of Quentin’s knowledge about movies, and they would call him at the store and recite pieces of dialogue from which Quentin would quickly identify the film.

You mix the passion, the encyclopedic knowledge and the opportunities that Quentin had together, and you get what Malcom Gladwell would call a true "Outlier."