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Reply #60 on: July 07, 2014, 01:50:27 PM
Steven Soderbergh on Why He Really Quit Movies
The director talks about his new TV show, his old films, and the one-asshole theory of everything
Source: Esquire Magazine

This time last year, Steven Soderbergh was winding down his filmmaking career and switching to other things. Many other things. Since then, he's directed an Off-Broadway play about school shootings, The Library, produced and directed The Knick, a 10-episode TV series debuting on Cinemax this August (starring Clive Owen), and become a serious liquor importer, with his Bolivian brandy, Singani 63. And it was recently announced that one of his films, The Girlfriend Experience, is being adapted for television. The headlines had said he was retiring, but he's done nothing remotely close to retiring.

We recently sat down with Soderbergh at the The Roof at the Viceroy Hotel in midtown Manhattan, where he gave us a Singani tasting, and talked in detail about life, art, assholes, and much more.

ESQUIRE.COM: I recently re-watched Sex, Lies, and Videotape, which turned 25 this year.

STEVEN SODERBERGH: That must be like watching something from the Victorian era.

ESQ: I remember it being revolutionary.

SS: Now these people seem so well-adjusted! The bar has shifted so much to what people consider to be... I don't know if average is the right word. But in Sex, Lies, this guy comes back to town and has a proclivity that people find unusual. Now, what would that be? You can't shock people, is what it comes down to.

ESQ: You're made out to be this anti-Hollywood guy. But now you have a liquor brand. So you're not anti-brand.

SS: My working life is me doing what I want to do. This is that. I've made movies that people don't go to see.

ESQ: But you like it.

SS: Yeah! The other thing is people ask, "Why don't you want to do movies anymore?"

ESQ: People are obsessed with that. It's like the Beatles breaking up. You're the Beatles.

SS: Well there's no Yoko. The reason is, and I understand it... The fact that it became a story at all is because of Matt Damon. He remembered verbatim a drunk conversation we had in Chicago and repeated it to USA Today. I'd talked about it before and nobody gave a shit. It wasn't until Matt said that I had a plan to get out. The bottom line when people talk about all the reasons, you know the biggest reason? It stopped being fun. It just stopped being fun. It really wasn't. That's a big deal to me. It may sound like "Why do you have to have fun to go to work?" I don't know. I like to be in a good mood. The ratio of bullshit to the fun part of doing the work was really starting to get out of whack.

ESQ: If you're in a position not to go through the motions, why go through the motions?

SS: Look, I've been having a lot of fun. And I had a lot of fun doing the theater piece [The Library].

ESQ: I didn't see that but the subject matter is pretty sad and extremely relevant.

SS: People would ask me what it's about and I'd go, "The next school shooting." It's horrible.

ESQ: The interviews I read make it seem like you're constantly thinking about art and film and storytelling. Are you?

SS: I think about art a lot only in two contexts. One is narrative. That we're a species that's wired to tell stories. We need stories. It's how we make sense of things. It's how we learn. When we look at what's going on in the world and we see the immense level of conflict that seems to always be happening — you can always trace it back to competing narratives. What's going on in Ukraine right now is that Vladimir Putin has a narrative of himself and his country that he's so passionate about that he's willing to make a move like that. This is about a story. His story of himself and him trying to restore his country to the glory he thinks it should have. It's that elemental.

ESQ: It's like the gun debate. The gun people have their narrative, the anti-gun people have their stories, the people who use the guns to murder have their own stories about how shitty they think their life is. And it all weaves together.

SS: It's at the center of everything, this idea of narrative and stories. So I am always thinking about it: Is there another way to do it? That's why I was so fascinated and obsessed with the cave paintings in France. I'm like, "Fuck, there it is. The first stories." I draw a little bit and was like, "Somebody practiced those." 30,000 years ago you have your forehead out to here, you don't just pick up a piece of charcoal and do that. That was something that struck me as "Where's the practice board?" The other thing that I'm interested in, which is tangential, but not unrelated... All art to me is about problem solving. So I'm obsessed with problem solving. Somewhere someone discovered something or somebody was tasked to figure something out and they did. What did they figure out and how? One of the things that I believe is true is the art model of problem solving is incredibly efficient because ideology has no place there. There's only the thing and what the thing needs to be. When I look around the world and think why is everything working or not working, it's because it's entrenched ideology. You can't solve a problem if you're sitting down with people who say, "All these ideas are off the table because of what I believe."

ESQ: It's never going to get solved. Like the gun situation.

SS: And I'll tell you why. This country is too fucking big. I honestly think... In nature, if a cell gets too big, it divides. You can't come up with a set of rules that's going to work for 350 million people. You're just not. So we're stuck. Robert Kennedy had this great quote: "20 percent of people are against everything, all the time." That's a big number now. And you know what? "No" is easy. "No" doesn't require any follow-up, commitment. "Yes" is hard, "yes" has to be worked on. It needs a lot of people to keep it as "yes." That's where we're at. When I'm president, we're going back to the Thirteen Colonies, is what we're going to do. It's a weird time. Because the trajectory... Wow, I look around and I'm alarmed. I guess every generation feels that way, I don't know, but I'm really alarmed. I talk to smart people who work in fields either, you know, neuro-cognition or social analysis, I go, "Am I going nuts or is this thing going a certain direction, really fast?" All of them go, "You're not imagining things." And I go, "What do we do?" This could turn into Mad Max, like tomorrow. The fabric is so thin, I feel like.

ESQ: Do you believe that people in your field can affect change through their work? It's not like Traffic did anything in those regards.

SS: And I knew it wouldn't. I knew it would generate a conversation for like three months and I said to everybody at the time, "You can make this movie every five years." I don't think it changes. What it does, potentially, it starts a conversation. And I do believe this: Artists' livelihood is based on observation and interaction, I do believe they pick up on vibrations that are early. And they go, "Hey, I'm feeling something that's not yet agreed upon." That I do believe. I'm concerned about what's going on in the world comes back to... talk about the Internet again. I think we're in desperate need of another enlightenment. We need to evolve to another level, very soon, or we're going to be fucked. En masse, we all need to step up. The last enlightenment happened because of the printing press. The Internet is that, potentially. Potentially. I have some very real ideas that I'm working on with some very interesting, possibly crazy people, about how to address this, how to use the technology that's available to bring about some collective step forward, soon. Othewrise, I'm like, "I give up." Look, it may be hopeless. The analogy that I use is you throw a party with 40 people you've selected. Handpicked. It's gonna be a great party. It takes one asshole to ruin the whole thing. That's it. One. The problem with the world is one asshole comes up with a really bad idea and now we're all taking our shoes off at the airport. One asshole in a cave and look [points out to New York City]. That's what makes this so hard. It just takes on asshole.

ESQ: That would be a great book: The One-Asshole Theory.

SS: Well, the key is, how do you feel with the one asshole? They cannot be talked to. That's why they are assholes.

ESQ: Because ideology is the gasoline for assholes.

SS: Yeah, it is. Did you read that book, Assholes: A Theory? It's pretty amazing. It's about this. How they function in our society and alter how we behave. It's kinda great.

ESQ: I think about assholes a lot.

SS: On a macro level and on a micro level, it's one of the biggest issues we have to figure out. Seriously! It really is. They are the obstacle to what I'm talking about, to getting to the next level. It's a real problem. Some of them are smart, some of them are very high-functioning and successful. And the scariest thing is: They make little assholes.

ESQ: Of course they do. The spawn of assholes.

SS: I'm trying to think of a way — because with the Internet, where all information is everywhere, all the time — how do we use that? Is there a mechanism where you can publicly shame them in an effective way so there's a tipping point for the asshole? It's like the yellow card. How do you incentivize — that's what I love about reading the Freakanomics guys' books. Their theory is all human interaction, you can break it down to incentives. All relationships, at some level, are transactional. They're fascinated with incentives. I'm wondering if there's a way to incentivize an asshole to stop being an asshole. I don't know. [Shrugs.] I got to ask them. They live here. It would be a big problem to solve. Taking the subway here. Getting out at 57th Street. It pulls up and there's a guy standing six inches from the door, waiting to get in. Big guy. Now, we know what the rule is. You wait for the other people to get off. The door opens and he just blows in and knocks all of us back. Okay. Asshole.

ESQ: The thing is, we all have our own asshole moments.

SS: Absolutely. This guy argues that the true asshole never has that moment of self-awareness. No personal moment of doubt, no self-reflection. I'm always analyzing. A real litmus test for me is how people treat someone who is waiting on them. That's a dealbreaker for me. If I were on the verge of getting into a serious relationship and I saw that person be mean to a waiter... I'm out. That's a core problem. You're being mean to someone who's helping you. What is that? Everyone knows who the assholes are, and I avoid them.

ESQ: What's the story behind Singani 63?

SS: It's been a really interesting process for me. It's kinda a test. My first mentor in filmmaking was teaching at LSU. I was going to high school on the LSU campus. I wormed my way into this film class and refused to leave. His mantra was "You're the audience. Just make something you want to see. Anything you can understand, someone else can understand." And I always believed that. In this case, I'm transferring that, as someone who likes to drink and takes it seriously. Summer of 2007, we're in Madrid, about to start shooting Che. Our Bolivian casting director as a gift gives me a bottle of Singani. I said, "What is it?" "It's the national drink of Bolivia. My father has a connection to the company." I start drinking it immediately [points to glass] because I usually drink vodka on the rocks. The first thing I notice is there's no burn. Usually when you drink something at that proof level, you're waiting for the burn. So I had two of these and go find him and said, "Dude, what is this?" He starts telling me the history of it, that it's made in a certain part of Bolivia. So I get the whole camera department hooked on this stuff. I like it. So let's start there. Little did I know, but I should've known, that any time you're going to interact with the United States government, it's not going to be fast, it's going to be frustrating. You're talking about the ATF and the FDA.

ESQ: So are you having meetings with the ATF and the FDA?

SS: You have to apply state-by-state to sell it, which is a drag. You have a series of calls — they're trying to determine if you're real. Then there's this whole testing thing. You give them a bottle of it and they send it to a lab and test it. Again, I'm operating on this fantasy of "Well, I think it's good, and I know people who own bars. Done." That's what I was thinking. About a year ago, 250 cases of this stuff show up in New Jersey. Now I have to get serious. It's here. What I decided was, let's do New York. Let's come up with a plan to see if we can get this going in New York. With the idea that after a year, I find a large-scale distributor or equity person and show them, "Look, this is what we did in New York with like four people and not a lot of money." Any time I start to despair about it, I start to wonder about it, I just go back to my reaction and thinking that it's really good. I drank it, I thought it was really good, that's the best I can do.

ESQ: It sounds like a huge undertaking.

SS: Let's put it this way: If it's going to go anywhere beyond New York, it is. The good news has been that... I've had insane luck in my life. Really weird luck. When I drank this for the first time, tried to get it here — I didn't know what it was technically. The fact that it turned out to be a brandy that was clear was a stroke of luck. It meant I'm not going head-to-head with other types of spirit that are very well-funded and by coincidence, there's not a lot of clear brandys. Most people think of brandy the way I did: sniffer.

ESQ: Do you ever get nostalgic for your early days, when you were first in L.A. trying to make it and doing shit jobs? Before Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

SS: I'll say no because... [Pauses.]

ESQ: You seem like a pretty forward-thinking guy.

SS: There's that and look, I had an idea of what I wanted to do and I found a thing I loved to do more than anything else. So spending all my waking hours thinking about it was not work. But this has gone so much further than even fantasy. Yeah, I'm always trying to think of "What's the next 12 months?" Those were good times. Those salad days, sleeping on my buddy's couch for months and one day sitting around, the two of us being like, "Fuck, we have a jar of jelly. Literally, in this apartment, we have a jar of jelly." We were laughing. I was driven but I was not impatient. I felt like it would happen. I grew up in a subdivision in Baton Rouge. I had no connection to the business at all. But I felt like it's going to happen to somebody. I was like an athlete who didn't have any extraordinary skills, but had basic skills, but worked really hard. That was me. I'm a grinder. I'll beat you because I will not sleep. Whenever I go and talk to aspiring filmmakers, I go, "Look, at the end of the day, I can talk about craft, whether you have a soul of an artist, I don't know." Your take on things is what is either going to make you somebody we talk about or no. You have to have a take on shit. It's got to be specific and engaging. We're all standing on the shoulders of what other people have done. But you're supposed to take that and add your own sauce. It can be intimidating, believe me. When I look at amazing work that's been done, I don't look at... Persona or Hard Day's Night and think, "Oh, I can do better than that." I just look at that and say, "That's fucking amazing," and say, "What about me can make it slightly different?" So it's not just a Xerox. Everybody steals, that's a given. If you steal a coat, what are the buttons you're going to put on it? Ego is something that everybody, creative especially, has to grapple with. You need enough ego to keep going but not so much ego that you're deaf or blind, that you're making a mistake and can't fix the course.

ESQ: After you won an Academy Award for Traffic, did you wrestle to keep your ego in check?

SS: No... What's hilarious about it, ironically, and nobody will ever believe this... I was in the middle of shooting Ocean's Eleven, which for me, as a director, was much harder. I just had to laugh. Best door prize ever. But I was literally set up to work the next morning. Sunday night was the Oscars. I flew to Vegas that night and I'm on set first thing Monday morning confronting a scene that I couldn't figure out how to shoot. At the end of the day, the quote I use is "In the land of ideas, you are always renting." The landlord can always go "Bye!" If you're not humbled by that then you're an idiot and you will fail. You will fail. The process of discovery or coming up with an idea is so resistant to formula.

ESQ: How is The Knick?

SS: I'm really happy. Really happy.

ESQ: Having the space to go 10 hours must be a dream.

SS: It really is. You get to go narrow and deep. I had a great time on it. I was terrified going in. Because they basically said yes to a pilot script. We wanted a series commitment with the understanding... This is end of May, June, a year ago. We wanted a commitment and we had to start shooting in September. The good news was they said yes. The bad news was now we got to write nine hours in two and a half months and prep for a 10-hour period piece. We had to shoot nine pages a day and I was really scared. But it turned out to be a total blast. Clive [Owen] really set the tone. This will sound strange, but — it wasn't horrible. I thought 570 pages for 73 days... How would you do that? It turned out to be actually... fun. It really was fun. But the only way you can do that is if you have autonomy on the ground to solve problems moment to moment, the way you want to solve them. Look, I was out. I read this thing last May, right before we were going to Cannes with Behind the Candelabra. I read it and was like, "Shit." I was the first person to get it. I went, "Well, the second person who reads this is going to do this."

ESQ: Is this something that's going to be more than one season?

SS: That's my plan. We'll find out within the next couple of weeks. I know they're happy. I know they like the show. I'm not privy to what money they have allocated. But I've made it clear. We know what we want to do, we've already worked on breaking out a second year. Everybody wants to do it. That's one of the reasons why when I read this, I said I gotta go to HBO. We were literally on the Candelabra tour and I had a great experience with it. I said to [HBO president of programming] Michael Lombardo, "This may sound a little weird, but I'd rather be the big kid at a really small school. How do you feel about doing this on Cinemax instead of HBO?" For me personally, I'm going to get a lot more one-on-one. He goes, "Actually, that'll be great." Nobody's talking about movies the way they're talking about their favorite TV shows.

ESQ: Is that weird for you to see?

SS: No. You know what? I've never been a snob. It's just about stories. And I've never felt just because it's a big screen and you plop down your eight bucks that gives it a special meaning. It's just "Are you good at telling a story?"
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol

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Reply #61 on: September 22, 2014, 01:20:11 PM
Watch: Steven Soderbergh Re-Scores And Changes Steven Spielberg's 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' To Black-And-White

While he isn't making feature films at the moment, that doesn't mean Steven Soderbergh doesn't like to play with them. We've seen him mashup Alfred Hitchcock and Gus Van Sant's "Psycho," and now he's toying with a massive cultural touchstone of the 1980s.

Soderbergh decided to take Steven Spielberg's "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" and drape a new score on top—mostly consisting of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' work for David Fincher's "The Social Network" and "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"—and then turned the whole movie into monochrome black-and-white. Why? Here's Soderbergh's blog post:

SEP 22, 2014
(Note: This posting is for educational purposes only.)

I’m assuming the phrase “staging” came out of the theatre world, but it’s equally at home (and useful) in the movie world, since the term (roughly defined) refers to how all the various elements of a given scene or piece are aligned, arranged, and coordinated. In movies the role of editing adds something unique: the opportunity to extend and/or expand a visual (or narrative) idea to the limits of one’s imagination—a crazy idea that works today is tomorrow’s normal.

I value the ability to stage something well because when it’s done well its pleasures are huge, and most people don’t do it well, which indicates it must not be easy to master (it’s frightening how many opportunities there are to do something wrong in a sequence or a group of scenes. Minefields EVERYWHERE. Fincher said it: there’s potentially a hundred different ways to shoot something but at the end of the day there’s really only two, and one of them is wrong). Of course understanding story, character, and performance are crucial to directing well, but I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off, and under that theory, staging becomes paramount (the adjective, not the studio. although their logo DOES appear on the front of this…).

So I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me. Oh, and I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging, and this filmmaker forgot more about staging by the time he made his first feature than I know to this day (for example, no matter how fast the cuts come, you always know exactly where you are—that’s high level visual math shit).

At some point you will say to yourself or someone THIS LOOKS AMAZING IN BLACK AND WHITE and it’s because Douglas Slocombe shot THE LAVENDAR HILL MOB and the THE SERVANT and his stark, high-contrast lighting style was eye-popping regardless of medium.


I watched the first 14 minutes (because I had to stop and work!), looks and sounds fascinating.


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Reply #62 on: January 14, 2015, 03:11:11 PM
and now he recuts 2001

JAN 14, 2015

sometimes you have to cross the line to know where the line is. just ask any two-year-old.

maybe this is what happens when you spend too much time with a movie: you start thinking about it when it’s not around, and then you start wanting to touch it. i’ve been watching 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY regularly for four decades, but it wasn’t until a few years ago i started thinking about touching it, and then over the holidays i decided to make my move. why now? I don’t know. maybe i wasn’t old enough to touch it until now. maybe i was too scared to touch it until now, because not only does the film not need my—or anyone else’s—help, but if it’s not THE most impressively imagined and sustained piece of visual art created in the 20th century, then it’s tied for first. meaning IF i was finally going to touch it, i’d better have a bigger idea than just trimming or re-scoring.

plus, it’s TECHNOLOGY’S FAULT. without technology, i wouldn’t have been able to spend so much intimate—and, ultimately, inappropriate—time with the film. by the way, i’ve seen every conceivable kind of film print of 2001, from 16mm flat to 35mm internegative to a cherry camera negative 70mm in the screening room at warner bros, and i’m telling you, none of them look as good as a bluray played on an pioneer elite plasma kuro monitor. and while you’re cleaning up your spit take over that sentence, let me also say i believe SK would have embraced the current crop of digital cameras, because from a visual standpoint, he was obsessed with two things: absolute fidelity to reality-based light sources, and image stabilization. regarding the former, the increased sensitivity without resolution loss allows us to really capture the world as it is, and regarding the latter, post-2001 SK generally shot matte perf film (normally reserved for effects shots, because of its added steadiness) all day, every day, something which digital capture makes moot. pile on things like never being distracted by weaving, splices, dirt, scratches, bad lab matches during changeovers, changeovers themselves, bad framing and focus exacerbated by projector vibration, and you can see why i think he might dig digital.


is that you can see, in the dawn of man sequence, the cross-hatched patterns of the front projection screen in several shots. this is INEXCUSBALE. i never saw these patterns in any film prints—this would never have gotten past the polaroid-happy SK—and ANY transfer in which these patterns are visible no matter how your monitor/TV is set up is TECHNICALLY FUCKED AND COMPLETELY WRONG. i hate saying that about my good friends at WB, especially since the WB remaster of CITIZEN KANE is literally a revelation, BUT on the other hand the ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN bluray is a disappointment, BUT on the OTHER other hand they did remaster and release a beautiful END OF THE ROAD disc, so…



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Reply #63 on: May 13, 2015, 10:19:31 PM
this man should not quit! he is literally at his PEAK NOW!

The Knick is one the greatest televisions shows I have seen! EVERY EPISODE WAS amazing. Soderburgh is the only director that shoots digitally that actually does great work!
His last movies have been GREAT! I do wish he would shoot on film, Traffic is a fucking tour de force in every way you can say that! writing, direction, cinematography, the different stocks, the cross processing, just marvelous, the casting, the acting.

his Che movie is profound, i just wish he shot that on film cause the RED camera he used then was crap but that is petty, the movie and cast are superb.
this man is unlike anyone, he is the d.p and editor and writes and directs. He is a bad motherfucker! His insight is original and arresting. Please do not retire. DO NOT LET THEM WIN MOTHERFUCKER!  KEEP ON TRUCKING!

I HOPE and PRAY HE gets the opportunity to shoot and direct his Leni R. project! ( I hope he shoots it on film though, OROW STOCK! ) :D


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Reply #64 on: September 24, 2015, 05:02:13 PM
Steven Soderbergh To Direct 'Clue'-Esque Film 'Mosaic' For HBO With Garrett Hedlund And Sharon Stone
via The Playlist

Leave it to Steven Soderbergh to create a project that leaves both Deadline and Variety sorta confused about how to describe it. The former calls it a film, the latter a television series. We've learned that it's indeed film, and a boundary pushing one from the filmmaker who has set up an intriguing new project at HBO.

"Mosaic" will be a "Clue"-esque, Choose Your Own Adventure style narrative that will give viewers the options, via an app, to determine the fate of the storyline. To that end, Soderbergh will shoot multiple variations of scenes to give the audience options of where to take things next. So yes, welcome to the first high-profile, interactive film, and Soderbergh is pretty pumped about breaking out of the box.

“I believe the good people at HBO are genuinely enthusiastic about ‘Mosaic’ for two reasons: first, it represents a fresh way of experiencing a story and sharing that experience with others; second, it will require a new Emmy category, and we will be the only eligible nominee,” Soderbergh said, hilariously, in a statement.

Garrett Hedlund and Sharon Stone will star in the project, and sources tell us that Ed Solomon ("Men in Black," "Charlie's Angels") is writing the film. Additionally, Soderbergh has been working on the development of the app technology for five years with the project's producer Casey Silver ("The Forbidden Kingdom," "Leatherheads").

Shooting will begin next month, and sorry, no plot details just yet. Before that, Soderbergh will finish editing the second season of "The Knick," which hits Cinemax this fall. So lots to look forward to from the director who seems eager to take apart the very foundation of storytelling and play around with it.


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Reply #65 on: December 11, 2015, 04:54:30 PM
Steven Soderbergh Talks ‘Mosaic,’ ‘Kafka’ & Plans To Still Make ‘The Sot-Weed Factor' As A Mini-Series
via The Playlist

The Playlist recently sat down with Steven Soderbergh for a lengthy conversation about “The Knick,” his one-man-band process as a director/editor/cinematographer/cameraman/producer on the show and much more. But we’ll get to that conversation once the finale has aired. But over the course of an hour-long interview, we touched upon many other subjects, as the always-productive filmmaker has several pots boiling or simmering at once.

For example, once the second season of “The Knick” was completely in the can in late August, the director jumped immediately to a new project: the HBO movie “Mosaic.” But there’s been confusion around the project, which was erroneously described upon its announcement as a choose-your-own-adventure-style movie in which web apps and new technology would be part of the viewing experience.

When I asked if “Mosaic” is a movie, the director responded with, “well, sort of,” and remained a little distant with details. And perhaps this is because the idea is abstract. “It's going to be very confusing for people until they see it,” Soderbergh said. “It's something I've been working on in the background for three-and-a-half years and that I'm really excited about.”

The director added the project will probably drop early 2017 and that it’s apparently half-shot. On top of the already announced Sharon Stone and Garrett Hedlund, we learned that “Mosaic” also stars Devin Ratray, Jennifer Ferrin, Maya Kazan and Jeremy Bobb from “The Knick,” plus Paul Reubens and Beau Bridges, among others.

“If it works, if it works for the audience, it's a way of doing things that I think has enormous potential for people who think a certain way. In a way, I'm very conscious of the fact that this is the first iteration of it,” he said, noting that if it catches on, other filmmakers can push the technology forward. “I can already see its potential and I know I'm making a cave painting but it's exciting at the same time because it's like, ‘Oh, man, some friends of mine that I know when they get their hands on this are going to do some crazy shit.’’’

Soderbergh wouldn’t talk plot details, but conceded the notion that it’s trying to push narrative forward. “That's the idea,” he said. “It's not a technical idea that we're now trying to put a story on top of. It grew out of an interest in trying to push storytelling in a different direction and coming up with technology that allows us to do it. It all originated from people who were thinking about story — the hope is the experience of it will be very organic and not technical.”

There are several other projects bubbling, too. Soderbergh quipped that the re-edit of his 1991 film “Kafka” is “in year 12 now.” He also confirmed that he’s shot new footage for the film and he’s working on it, but it’s still unclear when this new version will see a release. Meanwhile, the rights of films like “Full Frontal” and “Bubble” have reverted back to the filmmaker, with “The Girlfriend Experience” to follow in 2016, but he still hasn’t formulated a plan of what to do with them yet.

“I don't know if it's a re-edit or remastering them in 4K and sort of coming up with some fun box set with some extra shit in it. I don't know what to do with all of that yet,” he said.

Then there’s an adaptation of John Barth's "The Sot-Weed Factor," a satirical epic/historical spoof set in the 1680s about the chaotic odyssey of a hapless Londoner sent to the New World to look after his father's tobacco business. It’s been several years since that project has been even mentioned, but the director confirmed it's still in the works.

“I have scripts for that,” he said. “We’re getting ready to do another draft and so that's something that I really, really want to do. I've been working on it for a long time. That's a TV mini-series thing. That's like 10, 12 hours long.”

If that wasn’t enough, in addition to all this there’s “The Girlfriend Experience” show on Starz that Soderbergh is executive producing. It will air in the spring of 2016, and Soderbergh handpicked filmmakers Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz to be the writer/directors and co-creators of the show, which stars “Magic Mike” actress Riley Keough.


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Reply #66 on: February 03, 2016, 11:06:25 PM
Michael Shannon To Team With Channing Tatum And Steven Soderbergh
via Deadline

Rumors are running wild tonight about Steven Soderbergh returning to feature directing with Channing Tatum and Matt Damon in a script called Hillbilly Heist. That report in our sister publication Variety doesn’t exactly match up with what Deadline is hearing: the stars in the package are actually Soderbergh’s Magic Mike partner Tatum and Michael Shannon in the leads, with Damon not part of the package. The title we’re hearing is Logan Lucky, and while Glen Basner is listed in a report as the producer, he’s just selling foreign. The producer is Soderbergh’s frequent collaborator Gregory Jacobs. Script’s being shown to studios this week. More to come.


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Reply #67 on: May 09, 2016, 11:21:22 AM
this band is playing at a movie event is how i heard about this

Video for the song "Histoire seule" from the album CONFUSION MODERNE on Xemu Records. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
The song's title is a riff on Godard's Histoire(s) du Cinema, and songwriter Lola G.'s lyrics are about how women tend to get erased from history. Steven's video presents a slyly subversive but more iconographic and idiosyncratic take on history's flux.


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Reply #68 on: July 13, 2016, 06:39:52 PM
Steven Soderbergh Discusses New, Weird “Midnight Edition” of ‘Kafka’
via The Playlist

Steven Soderbergh’s sabbatical from making movies is officially over. While he took a detour into television with “The Knick,” the director has two films in the works: “Mosaic,” an experimental project over at HBO (which may not quite resemble a film in the end and could be a kind of a series), and the NASCAR heist comedy, “Logan Lucky.”

But last night at The Nitehawk theaters in Williamsburg, the director who rarely looks back at his work, was doing just that with a screening of “Haywire” followed by a Q&A afterwards (presented by Soderbergh’s liquor line Singani 63). But the conversation, moderated by Esquire and Daily Beast writer Aaron Goldfarb, inadvertently began with a conversation that lead to Soderbergh’s sophomore effort, “Kafka” starring Jeremy Irons, Theresa Russell, Ian Holm, and the late Alec Guinness. It’s no secret that Soderbergh has been re-editing the film (which could come out on The Criterion Collection when it’s finally done), but the filmmaker gave a lot of fascinating details on the do-over.

“I’ve been working on, at no one’s request, ‘Kafka’ for 14 years,” the director said dryly to laughter. “I have an idea, I have an approach. It was a movie I was never really happy with even at the time. “

The filmmaker explained the rights to the film reverted to him, and his producer (who also co-owned rights) asked him if he would be interested in working on the film again simply because he knew the director was never satisfied with it. “The tone was uneven. Tone is the hardest thing to maintain,” the filmmaker said about the picture.

Soderbergh agreed and unveiled some very interesting details about the reworking. For one, it’s no longer in English and now is in German (presumably dubbed, but he didn’t quite elaborate, though he joked audiences would need to “understand German”).

The director also divulged that he shot new inserts, on black and white film, during the filming of “Side Effects” and has radically retooled the film. “I’m calling it the ‘Midnight Edition,’” he said. “It’s very weird. I didn’t solve any of the problems, I’ve just mitigated them by making it so weird. You’re so distracted by the weirdness that you don’t notice what doesn’t make any sense.”

When the conversation swung back to “Haywire,” Soderbergh dropped a big reveal about the 007 series. “Over the years, I’ve been in conversations… ,” he said with a pause and some hesitation and then just blurted it out. “I’ve been approached twice about doing a Bond film. And it never quite got anywhere. And [‘Haywire’] in some ways, was my opportunity to do what I would do with a Bond movie.”

His nixed baseball film, “Moneyball,” also came up (“I was fired,” he said with a laugh after attempting to delicately explain the matter). The deep-sixed project, which was supposed to feature 27 real baseball players as themselves, came up because it led directly to “Haywire.” Soderbergh, for one, didn’t want to let his crew down so scrambled to find another film. “I had 175 people who thought they were going to work on Monday, so my immediate concern was, ‘We need to find something to do now, like right away. All of these people don’t have a job.’ ”

Soderbergh then explained the off-told story: he saw “Haywire” star Gina Carano in an MMA fight and quickly conceived of a movie around her. The rest is history. For “Haywire,” action film fanatics and Soderbergh fans, this is a must-listen conversation filled with lots of interesting tidbits: a possible “Haywire” sequel that didn’t happen and a now-gone possibility of doing the movie as a TV show; being pushed off “Quiz Show” as a director, booze talk, and more.  The conversation thankfully recorded by Playlist contributor Chris Bell.

Listen to the entire 52-minute talk below (or above).

Audio removed at the request of the venue.


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Reply #69 on: August 04, 2016, 07:34:15 PM
Steven Soderbergh Talks The Revolutionary Approach To ‘The Knick’, The Impact Of ‘Twin Peaks’ & ‘The Sopranos’ And More
via The Playlist

It’s a process with Steven Soderbergh, because Steven Soderbergh loves process. The making, the doing and the fundamental juxtaposition of images and how they work together is what turns the Oscar-winning director on. The diverse filmmaker of movies including “Traffic,” “Che,” “Magic Mike,” the “Ocean’s Eleven” trilogy and more, has always attempted to push the limits of narrative and he often does it himself in multiple key roles. And the director certainly has pushed the visual grammar envelope in television with “The Knick,” his period medical drama set in New York in the early 1900s. On the show, medicine is still in its infancy, there’s much to be learned, many lives lost along the way, and there’s a knowledge-thirsty doctor, John Thackery (Clive Owen), at the center of it all, racing for cures, salves and breakthroughs in science, and creating his own when he can’t find them. Charging forward with kinetic energy, Thackery, much like the show itself, is restless and roving.

“The Knick” wrapped up its second season back in December, but the Blu-Ray and DVD is just coming out this week (win a copy here). We spoke to Steven Soderbergh — the show’s director, co-producer, co-showrunner, cinematographer, editor — on the eve of the show’s finale last year. But we had a treasure trove of material we thought we’d save for the Blu-Ray release as fans are still catching up with the Cinemax series. What’s next for the show? What are its influences? How did Soderbergh pull off that epic and elaborate ball sequence in season two? The director dishes all in our lengthy sit down. “The Knick” season two is available on Blu-Ray/DVD and if you’re lucky enough, you can win a copy of it right here. And it goes without saying, *spoilers below* so catch up with the show if you haven’t already and then come right back.

Did your visual approach change in season two, and if so, how?

It changed a little, but there was a consensus on the part of the creative brain trust that while we were happy with the first season, there was another gear to be had, that all of us needed to push a little harder. As a result I wanted to push the style and open my toolkit up a little more but primarily from a story standpoint, it’s just a bigger canvas.

The ideas are bigger. We’re outside of the hospital more in ways that still connect back to the hospital. But just on a practical level, we spent 10 more shootings days outside the hospital than we did in season one for the same length of shooting time. That’s a pretty big percentage.

I wanted to discuss the ballroom sequence and the amazing unbroken take in episode seven, “Williams and Walker,” which in a way mirrors episode seven of season one in its grandeur.

In this case it was just a weird coincidence. Maybe it’s inevitable within the math of a 10-hour thing. Episode seven of last year (“Get the Rope”) was the riot and episode seven of this year was the ball (“Williams and Walker”).

That riot episode scared me the most last year. I was most anxious about it, thinking about a lot, talking to the writers often, recalibrating the writing of that episode a lot as we were approaching it. I felt the same about the ball. I was nervous — it was a giant set and it had to really deliver. It had to be impressive and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it until we got there.

The one shot in three minutes?

That one shot is like in 2:40 but the whole sequence is about 20 minutes. A lot of it feels fluid because of the editing though. We had two nights to do it and I was deeply nervous. But not all of it is planned. I show up on the day, and there were 4 pages of introductory expository dialogue that had to be dealt with. I knew that I didn’t want people just standing still and saying these lines so as soon as we got there, I said to [first AD] Greg Jacobs, “Look, I think I want to try and do a massive ‘oner’ here and do this whole section in a single shot.”

You’ve got to start somewhere so we start on the tray of champagne and there are certain things that I want to reveal there. I know what capabilities I have in terms of we had a dolly with a seat on the arm, so [there was] 5 feet of up and down that I could play with. We just started building it piece by piece, chunk by chunk. Okay, this is the main room, now we’re in the room with the dance going on, now we’re in the room adjacent to that and we want to go back to the main room. We just dove in.

The whole thing took 4 hours but it would have taken much longer to do it “normally” with “proper” coverage. It ends up an efficient way to shoot things and also fun. We did in 16 takes. Take 7 didn’t have any mistakes in it but Greg came over, he goes, “You know, when we go into the ballroom on that take, you’re supposed to see Andrew Rannells come right up to the camera.” He goes, “It timed out there was another guy with a beer in the same space” I’m like, “Oh, shit.” I ran over the camera and we looked at it back again and I realized he was right. It took 9 more [takes] to get it.

The good news was, once we had it, then I could relax. Then I could move into a mode that was within shouting distance of being more normal. Once the hard part is out of the way I can play a little bit more. Then there was just the whole Williams and Walker thing [a white duo doing a minstrel routine in blackface] which was just so disturbing. It was shocking to stand there and realize what a visceral reaction you have to somebody in blackface. It was just disturbing for everybody.

As soon as we finished, I turned to those two guys and said, “Now, please, go take all that shit off.” It was also fascinating that in that period [performers] like Williams and Walker were also very popular with black audiences. The whole time was so fucked up that I liked the fact that there was nothing clear about it. Your reaction to seeing it is really complicated.

How involved in the writing are you?

It’s [creators and co-showrunners] Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, [supervising producer, co-executive producer, writer] Steven Katz, me and [Soderbergh’s longtime first AD] Greg Jacobs in a room with two giant dry-erase boards with one through ten written across the top. We had a macro idea of what the first two seasons were and we even sent it to Clive [Owen] from the beginning. In each case, the writers would show up with a bucket of ideas, shit that was going on medically during this period, the discoveries, the breakthroughs. Things they had read in their research and we would go, “That idea could go here. That idea could go there.”

We knew at the beginning that we were going to kill [the health inspector] Jacob Speight (David Fierro) for example. We knew that season two was going to involve Cornelia Robertson (Juliet Rylance) trying to figure out why that happened. We had things sketched out, then they go off and they start and they turn the scripts around very, very quickly.

Amiel and Begler wrote in sitcoms before they did movies, so the good news was like they’re used to writing really fast. Steven Katz we brought in because I knew he knew this era and world. We brought him in because we didn’t have time to educate somebody about New York during that period and he jumped up to speed immediately. The [Amiel and Begler] scripts come back and what we would do is have another two days of sitting in a room going through every script scene by scene.

In the season two finale, as Bertie tries to save Thackery, he’s running to get the adrenaline, and you’re whipping right along with him. And according to the script Cinemax sent, it wasn’t written like that.

That’s another idea I had about a third of the way through shooting it. I went over the guys. I go, “This is how we’re going to end it.” They went, “That’s great!“ It’s about being in an environment in which you have the freedom to think like that. The ability to come up with an idea, implement it immediately right there and most importantly not be second guessed on you decision afterward.

By whom?

By whoever is paying for it. Look, I’m sure there are directors working in episodic TV are going, “Yeah, that would be really nice, but I don’t have that freedom” because most episodic directors are not directing every episode of their shows although I think you’re going to see more of that. They are more often than not there is no vessel to implement somebody else’s decision. That’s the typical structure of a TV show. What I’m encouraging people to do hopefully by example is, if you’re not going to go a single director route, is have a small enough route to have them be part of the brain trust from the beginning.

Like what you’re doing with the Starz series “The Girlfriend Experience,” which has two directors on it and that’s it.

I think when people see that show, they’re going to see the benefits of this way I’m working because there’s nothing out there that’s like the show, like what Lodge [Kerrigan] and Amy [Seimetz] did is crazy. And it’s like proof of concept for what can happen going forward with this or other shows.

The metrics of the success for places like Cinemax and Starz is starting a conversation around show that gets subscribers, right?

Yes, but also, in talking to [Starz CEO] Chris Albrecht, he’s like, “We’re going to watch this closely just from a process standpoint because we liked the idea of what you’re proposing and if it works, this is could be a template for that we’re going to want to do.” They looked at the result and went, “Okay. That’s cool.” Again, you’re working within a specific economic parameter but within that go for it, like go push it as far as you can. They were really, really supportive and they really liked the results so now we’re planning the next phase. There’s a slightly different grammar in long form television. There’s an opportunity there to bring in a grammar that comes from a way of storytelling that is less literal in the sense that… [trails off]

[Since our conversation, “The Girlfriend Experience” season one has aired, and been renewed for a second season.]

That’s been on your mind for years. The “tyranny of narrative.”

It’s unusual for instance, it’s not unheard of. There are shows that do it but it’s unusual to have extended periods of time in a television show where people don’t talk. That’s not a typical and it’s that way of thinking, “Are there ways to put ideas and story points across that don’t involve people telling you things in dialogue?” And that comes from a more cinematic way of presenting things and I think I’m seeing more people doing it. I think it’s great for the viewer. There were two seminal events in television, two [shows] changed things and anybody that is doing anything good is standing on their shoulders — “Twin Peaks” and “The Sopranos.”

When you take those two shows and what those two shows were doing and how they were doing it, those were really the building blocks. What I think is evolving is just a new way of telling stories on TV.

Who knows what’s going to motivate the next generation? Viewing habits are changing so much that it’s hard to tell in what size morsels people are going to want content.

I know from looking at the data when I was VP of the Director’s Guild, that the only real area of growth in the entertainment business was one hour original content. Everything else was shrinking except for sports which is always going the right direction. Basically, every other aspect of the entertainment business is shrinking except for one hour original content.

Now, at the same time, and I’ve learned this in all areas of life, not just the entertainment business, the percentage of people that can really execute is small and does not increase exponentially by making a lot more shows.

The democracy of technology doesn’t necessarily mean great content. That kid with a camera in Ohio that Coppola was talking about isn’t necessarily a genius.

Exactly. I mean, it’s corollary to my whole theory of any given calendar, period. Whether a 100 movies are made or 600 movies are made in one year, there’s really going to be handful of it you can actually watch. It’s not a linear relationship and that’s true with TV. When people say there’s still a lot of terrible stuff on TV and there’s just more of it, that’s probably partially true.

The point is, opportunities for people who do execute well, to execute more, has expanded. People who are really good at visual storytelling now have more opportunities and more outlets to tell stories. I think that’s a good thing. The reason I don’t see a ceiling on the current wave of television and don’t feel it’s a bubble that will crash is because the smart people I know don’t have enough time to execute all the ideas they have. You know what I mean? They have shit pouring off of them that they want to do and they’re just trying…they’re not going to run out of ideas.

We haven’t even scratched the surface yet. It’s also like saying there’s nothing left to paint. We’ve had enough paintings. There’s always new knowledge. There’s always another idea. There’s always another filmmaker who you go, “Let’s throw some money at that person.”

It’s kind of like the way you guys put a completely new spin on the medical drama, which was once a fairly routine template.

The bucket of stories and ideas the writers walked in with for both seasons, we used a tenth of what they had and filled up ten hours twice. There’s a finite amount of good stuff. I think it’s only limited by how many hours in a week for people that are really good are willing to put in, and how open the business becomes to these other voices who are potentially as talented as the people we know by name and just need the opportunity. It’s like the New York Times magazine piece about women in the entertainment industry and the tag line was, “Just get us in the door.”

That’s really what it’s about. It’s like, just get us in the room and once we’re in the room then it’s on us but we’re not getting in the room. Again, that’s a whole other— you’ve got this whole spectrum of experience and narrative perspective that we haven’t tapped.

Let’s talk “The Knick” spoilers from season two.

Let’s put it this way, we had this all planned out very clearly from the very beginning.

Even Thackery’s death?

Yes, absolutely. I said [to Clive Owen] from the beginning, if it matters to you, we are going to kill you at the end of season two, just so you know. He’s like, “Okay. Good to know.”

I just said, “That is the design. That’s what we’re doing. We are looking at the show in two-year increments and that is the shape of the first two years.” We knew he was going to have a self-surgery. We had the pictures of the guy that actually did this procedure on himself successfully and so we knew how we we’re going to kill him. We knew that before Clive had even read the script. Everybody signed off.


I’m going to do the first two years and then we are going to break out the story for seasons 3 and 4 and try and find a filmmaker or filmmakers to do this the way that I did. Like this is how we want our template to be, every two years, whoever comes on, has the freedom to create their universe.

It means they don’t have to shoot it the way I shoot it. They don’t have to score it the way I score it. They don’t have to cast who I’ve cast. They have maximum freedom to come in and just go, “I want to wipe the slate clean.” That was our design from the beginning and so that’s what we’re pursuing right now. We’re working on story for [seasons] 3 and 4 and making a list of people who we think would be a good fit because the demands that are pretty specific.

Well, at the speed the show works, it has to be physically taxing.

It’s a more of a mental thing than anything. When you see the stats for season two, we never did a 12-hour shoot day. We don’t work long days. We worked efficiently and quick.

You didn’t work long 12-hour days? That’s insane. A movie shoot can easily be 15 hours daily.

[For] some people, not me. There [are] reasons that you go more than 12 hours a day. You’re making “The Revenant” which just looked like the shoot from hell and it’s just impossible. I watched that movie and just went, “I’m so fucking glad I wasn’t there.” I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near that. That’s an exception, but generally speaking in an environment like this, there are two reasons you go over a 12-hour day. You don’t know what you’re doing or you’re obligated to shoot a lot of coverage. That’s what takes up time. The reason we can work this fast, as you know watching the show, is we don’t do coverage.

You guys don’t do a lot of takes, right?.

Right, unless it’s something crazy elaborate. And then the editing at night— that’s the part I love the most. It doesn’t feel like a 16-hour day for me —because the last three or four hours are the editing reward for me. I’m sure if you did an MRI of my brain editing after a day of intense shooting like it’ll looked like a Christmas tree because I’m like, “Okay. This is the cherry that after all that physical work. Now, I get to do the fun part.” It’s mental, not physical. It’s more like leaning into it, it’s a Jedi mind trick where you go, “It’s not really that crazy a schedule.” Because I’m always doing exactly what I want, time doesn’t seem…

If you were working on a show in which you felt like you were never getting to do what you want, it would seem interminable. I got to the end of season two and I was like, “That was more fun than season one and maybe it’s because we went twice as fast.” Greg Jacobs felt the same way. Same length of shoot, bigger, more difficult canvas, but I just had so much more fun. I realized that’s what it was. It’s like, “Oh, I made all these decisions.”

After the end of season two, you’ve blown up the “The Knick” in nearly every way. Are you guys reinventing and starting over then with new casts, characters and locations?

[Pauses] The good news is we’ve got some time. I mean, it’s not going to get shot next year. We need time to really write it out. Of course, I immediately start thinking of doing it one director and shooting it like a film because its really economically efficient. I’m thinking, “Oh, we have a year. Let’s write both seasons and shoot both of them back to back and not stop at all.” That’d be the superefficient way to do it. Now, that may be a little much. That’s 150 days for somebody to work on it non-stop basically.

That’s what you would want to do yourself. Other filmmakers not so much.

[Chuckes] It’s fun to think about. In terms of the script especially, because the longer the ability to make the tapestry of the narrative threads more complicated is increased exponentially by how much time you’ve had with the whole thing before you shoot it.

The idea of like, “What if we do write seasons three and four and have both of them written by next fall but don’t shoot until spring of 2017,” then you really are talking about like a 20-hour thing where every line and every reference has some echo in connection to every other line. It’s been conceived as a whole, you know? It could be amazing. That’s what we’re definitely thinking about.

“The Knick” seasons 1 and 2 are now available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital formats.


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Reply #70 on: April 21, 2017, 05:36:03 PM
Adam Driver, Channing Tatum Speed Up In 'Logan Lucky'
via Entertainment Weekly

It’s been almost four years since Behind the Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic and — according to him at the time — his final feature film before retiring from the medium. Since then, he’s been busy, but in a format that has become home to more and more filmmakers like Soderbergh: television.

After directing all 20 episodes of Cinemax’s The Knick and serving as executive producer on The Girlfriend Experience on Starz and Amazon’s Red Oaks, Soderbergh is making a return to feature films, and he has an interesting reason why.

Logan Lucky is exactly the kind of movie you’d expect from Soderbergh, a fact that makes his return especially exciting for fans. Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, and Riley Keough star as Jimmy, Clyde, and Mellie Logan, three siblings planning on robbing the Charlotte Motor Speedway just before the biggest race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600. They even have an accomplice, John Bang (Daniel Craig), who is an expert at blowing vaults opens, but there’s one small problem: He’s in prison.

What makes Logan Lucky different from Soderbergh’s previous star-studded heist movies is how it’s being released. On Aug. 18, the film will open in theaters across the country via Bleecker Street and the director’s Fingerprint Releasing with an experimental model of distribution that could offer a unique option to filmmakers like Soderbergh. Ahead of the release, EW spoke with the filmmaker about how this plan is different and what drew him back into the features game.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is your origin with the project? How does it end up in front of you?
STEVEN SODERBERGH: I was given the script through a friend and asked if I would recommend some possible directors. Not unlike Bud Selig when he was charged with finding a commissioner for Major League Baseball, I thought that I was the right person to direct this film, and the search was stopping. I really couldn’t bear the thought of somebody else getting to do it. Now, that happened to coincide with some ideas that I’d had regarding distribution, and the timing seemed right. It was a movie that I very much wanted to make and also the opportunity to experiment with this new model was becoming possible, so I decided to pull the trigger.

I do want to dig in and talk about the model, because you’ve said that you’re “testing out personal theories” with this release. What’s the plan, and what are those theories?
By all standards, this is a studio movie. It’s a very commercial movie with movie stars in it that’s going to go out to 2,500 to 3,000 screens. The question is, “Can you do what the studios normally do from a distribution standpoint with a lot less resources and with a much better economic structure for the people who made the film?”

So this is your critique of studio distribution and an attempt to simplify it.
My feeling is that it’s gotten way too expensive to release a film wide, and the way that the economic structure of a studio is set up, if you’ve what we’ve done on this movie — which is everybody’s worked for scale — you’re too far away from your money. That’s why there is no middle man. There is no one talking a cut. The money is coming directly back to the creative pool.

This sounds like a much larger version of what Shane Carruth did on Upstream Color, which he released entirely by himself.
If it works, it’s a lane for people like myself to drive in. We formed Fingerprint Releasing to do this and to be able to export this to other filmmakers. So if someone like Alejandro Iñárritu, Alexander Payne, or Sofia Coppola wants to use this model that we’ve set up, it’s sitting there ready to be used.

Is there any kind of short explanation for what the plan is?
There’s no one component that hasn’t been done before, but I think it’s a combination of components. There have been advancements in technology that make it a lot easier to get a movie out in 3,000 screens than it was even two years ago. The economic model is pretty simple. You sell the foreign to cover the cost of the [film] negative. We sell the non-theatrical rights to cover the cost of the [prints and advertising], and that’s it. It’s really simple. People have done this before. The distribution part is only a little different because we control it in a way that you normally don’t get to control distribution.

And Logan Lucky is the movie to test that with?

It was just one of those moments where the planets aligned. All of the indicators are there, that I should be doing this. I’m excited about it creatively because it’s the kind of movie that I like to make. It’s the kind of movie that I like to see. Some of these issues that I’ve had in the past with the way movies are released can be mitigated. It seemed like all green lights to me.

What was in Rebecca Blunt’s script specifically that sparked with you?

On the most obvious level, it’s the complete inversion of an Ocean’s movie. It’s an anti-glam version of an Ocean’s movie. Nobody dresses nice. Nobody has nice stuff. They have no money. They have no technology. It’s all rubber band technology, and that’s what I thought was fun about it. It seemed familiar to me, but different enough. The landscape, the characters, and the canvass were the complete opposite of an Ocean’s film. What was weird is that I was working as a producer on Ocean’s Eight while we were shooting Logan, and it was kind of head-spinning. That’s like a proper Ocean’s film. This is a version of an Ocean’s movie that’s up on cement blocks in your front yard.

How did the Coca-Cola 600 come into the picture? Was it the original intent to incorporate that specific race?
We worked very hard to get NASCAR on board as a partner because we really felt that it was critical, because if you couldn’t shoot at the real race and put your people there, then it just wouldn’t be compelling. Luckily, we started conversations with them very early. This script came to me while we were shooting Magic Mike XXL, so that would have been fall of 2014. And we immediately started conversations with NASCAR to get their assistance. If we weren’t able to do what we did, I don’t think we would have made the movie. It’s such a unique event that I don’t know what solve we would have come up with.

How did the day go?
It was great. We had no problems. It was all really well organized. NASCAR took really great care of us. I think we got everything we needed, and we didn’t get in anybody’s way. It couldn’t have gone any better. It was exciting. That event’s pretty crazy. The scale of it is massive, and on that day, we had five cameras running around. But we had it all plotted out. Everybody knew where they had to move at what point in the race and what they should be shooting. We got all of the stuff we needed.

You’ve come out of your retirement from feature films to make this. Was it always your plan to end the hiatus?

First, I was not going to be directing at all and just really take a sabbatical. Right as we were going to Cannes with Behind the Candelabra, which was in my mind going to be the official start of my enforced vacation, I got the script for The Knick. So I went from not doing anything and exploring my future as a painter to starting to shoot a ten-hour television show in four months. The Knick scared me. We had to shoot 600 pages in 73 days. I’ve worked on some films with pretty aggressive schedules. This was on another order of magnitude, and I was terrified. This was something that was keeping me up at nights, wondering if this was really too big a reach. About a week in, I realized that there was a rhythm that was actually really exhilarating to be had and we were going to make it. I was sitting there on set, realizing that this is the job that I should be doing. This is my job. I should be directing stuff. Nobody’s waiting around for my paintings. So I kind of flipped a switch. I got reconnected with what I like about the job. For a while, I was just very, very happy to be working in that form. I loved working with a ten-hour canvass. It was really fun, and I wasn’t really thinking about movies… until this script came in over the transom. If it hadn’t, I think everything would be TV oriented.

When you sat down to do Logan Lucky, did you feel like a different director from the one who made Behind the Candelabra?

Yeah, I came out of the other end of The Knick different, and Logan benefited from that. It was a pretty short shoot, and obviously, you’re trying to make the best film you can for a number. I wouldn’t have been as aggressive with the schedule on Logan prior to The Knick. The Knick was like CrossFit for directing. That was a full-on workout, and I felt like I was in really good shape when I came out the other end of it. In many ways, Logan was — not to say that it was easy — but it wasn’t as challenging from a schedule standpoint as The Knick was. Logan was 36 days. That’s leisurely compared to what we had on The Knick.


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Reply #71 on: May 14, 2017, 06:57:30 AM
From Soderbergh's mailing list:

May 12, 2017


The way I figured it, writing was a way in, because writing didn’t cost anything.

In April of 1985 I had just finished the Yes concert film that would not catapult me to fame and fortune and I was sitting in the offices of Lookout Management on Sunset Blvd and saying to Mary Klauser, who ran the joint, that I wasn’t sure what the concert film would really DO for me since making concert films wasn’t really what I wanted to do, and in fact while I was editing the Yes concert film I saw Russell Mulcahy’s AS THE LIGHTS GO DOWN and it was so awesome I wanted to shoot myself, and so I asked Mary what was all that FOR? And Mary said, YOU NEED AN AGENT—I KNOW AN AGENT and she called Ann Dollard, who turned out to be a not only an agent but a truly rare human being, and Ann and I agreed a good way for me to start making my way forward would be to write scripts while I continued to make short films so that I could get writing jobs to support myself. I was living in Baton Rouge at the time, and I sat down at my Kaypro computer and wrote three scripts back-to-back over the next eight months (I had one script I’d been trying to make as a low-budget feature, PUTTING ON AIRS, but I didn’t consider it the right kind of calling card as a writer). The link below, PROOF POSITIVE, was the first of the three specs. I had recently seen THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE and thought it could be transported to another time and place (later someone else would have the same idea, the result being SOMMERSBY). Again, I did this as a writing sample, not as a project for me to make. I then wrote a script called CROSSTALK, a comedy about a mildly dysfunctional suburban family, and STATE OF MIND, a psychological thriller about some spoiled kids who stage a false kidnapping to extort money from their parents. PROOF POSITIVE is the least bad of the three, and I don’t think you’ll find anything exceptional in it; I wrote it (as I wrote the others) to show I could write a functional screenplay. My scheme worked, sort of. I got a job writing an hour-long after school movie for Disney called CITY TO COUNTRY that was never made but got me into the WGA (which I’m not a voting member of now, long story), and then a musical(!) for Tri-Star called ACROSS THE LINE. This was fortuitous because the executive involved, Casey Silver, would later become head of Universal and allow me to make KING OF THE HILL, THE UNDERNEATH and OUT OF SIGHT during his tenure (our relationship continues; he is now producing MOSAIC for me). Meanwhile, in early ’87 I wrote another script, DEAD FROM THE NECK UP, an AIRPLANE!-style detective film, and this found its way to Bobby Newmyer, an executive at Columbia. He tried to get DEAD set up for me to direct, and while he was doing that, he slipped me a little money to write a spy film called REVOLVER. This was now late 1987 and I had decided two things: I had to leave Baton Rouge once again for Los Angeles to make a real play at getting a feature film made, and there was no way I was going to get past the first act of REVOLVER. I’d been making notes for a CARNAL KNOWLDEGE-type film and while driving from Louisiana to California in January 1988 I started writing SEX, LIES. I gave it to Bobby in lieu of the spy movie and he felt he could get it financed.

The success of SEX, LIES created a paradox I didn’t see at the time: On the one hand, writing had gotten me to the place I’d always wanted to be, but on the other—and this is what I didn’t understand then—I wasn’t a writer. I had WRITTEN, but I wasn’t a writer. It would take me several years and several films to understand this. Once I did, and began to work with REAL writers, my career advanced dramastically.

The reason for all these words is, of course, commerce: we have a new, Joe Gillis-themed t-shirt to offer. Let’s hope we all make it back to the copy desk in Ohio before some deranged movie star plugs us full of holes…


Sam Lowry



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Reply #72 on: July 19, 2017, 04:39:59 PM
Steven Soderbergh Directs Secret iPhone Shot Movie Starring Claire Foy
via The Playlist

Last summer, David Lowery called up his pals Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, headed to Texas, and working with a small crew, under the radar, directed the acclaimed “A Ghost Story.” Now, Steven Soderbergh has spent part of this year quietly making a new movie that has already wrapped and certainly has us excited.

“The Crown” star Claire Foy and Juno Temple take the lead roles in “Unsane,” a new movie from Soderbergh, that was shot on Apple’s iPhone and is already in the can. Of course, there are no plot details at the moment, however, during a recent Reddit AMA, the director said to “stay tuned” for a movie that would touch upon similar subject matter as his thriller “Side Effects.” Could this be it?

At the moment, there’s no indication when the film will be released, but Soderbergh does plan to handle domestic distribution through his new shingle, Fingerprint. And let’s not forget “Unsane” now marks the second movie the director has sitting and waiting to see the light of the day; there’s also his HBO effort “Mosaic,” though Soderbergh is apparently working on a unique narrative device to accompany the picture before its released.


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Reply #73 on: August 18, 2017, 04:39:15 PM
Steven Soderbergh Reveals 2 Versions Of HBO Project ‘Mosaic’
via The Playlist

“Logan Lucky” races into cinemas today, with Steven Soderbergh firing on all cylinders for his hugely enjoyable heist comedy. But as always, the director is shifting gears for his next effort, the HBO project “Mosaic.” The project, which has been kept under wraps for quite some time, stars Garrett Hedlund and Sharon Stone, with Ed Solomon (“Men in Black,” “Charlie’s Angels“) writing the script for the story that will allow users to pursue different narrative paths, utilizing a new state-of-the-art app. However, how it all works has been a mystery for quite some time….until now.

Speaking with Film Comment, Soderbergh revealed that this fall, the app for “Mosaic” will be unveiled, and it sounds like something that might make you fall down a bit of a rabbit hole.

“[It’ll be available] for your phone, iPad, desktop, Apple TV. Anything. We started thinking we’ll just do iOS. But after long series of conversations, we said it makes no sense while we’re building this thing not to include Android and desktop. While we have the hood open, don’t we want as many eyeballs on this thing as possible? And it’s a free app. So set aside your time, because if you watch all the various nodes, it’s like seven and a half hours,” he said. “I was very aware while we were making it that this is the cave painting of this format—that somebody else is going to take this thing and push it way further. I was just trying to get a working story. Ed Solomon, who wrote ‘Mosaic,’ has another piece that’s built on what we did and is going to be much more complex.”

“You download the app, and the first chapter begins. At the end of that chapter, you are given the possibility of going right or left, and after that you just keep going. There are a couple of companies that are playing with branching narrative,” Soderbergh added.

That sounds completely fascinating, and given the story — which the filmmaker is still keeping somewhat guarded — it looks like this is the kind of narrative that can really go in a multitude of directions.

“It’s a murder. Not a murder mystery so much. There are two different time frames, one contemporary and one four years ago. This case that everyone thought was solved gets reexamined with interesting results,” he said. “So you get to go back and forth depending on who you want to follow at what point. It seemed to be a kind of story that benefited from this multiverse perspective. The writing and the editing of it was tricky. The giant board that Ed and I had was a real head-scratcher.”

However, if you’re looking for a more straightforward experience, Soderbergh has you covered, as “Mosaic” will be unveiled next year as a more traditional series on HBO. That’s right — it was never a movie as many assumed.

“There will be a linear episodic version that’s set to air on HBO in January, but ideally going forward, it would just be an app. I offered HBO the possibility of doing a linear cut because I needed more money to develop the technology,” he explained. “I called them and said I have a lot of material that’s not in the app; ‘I can cut a six-hour episodic version of this that will be its own thing.’ And they said, absolutely.”

So it sounds like there are two different versions of “Mosaic” you can explore.


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Reply #74 on: August 26, 2017, 05:11:40 AM
The Soderbergh Talks, Pt 3

Touches on Mosiac some, but the interviewer really goes for Yung Soderbergh territory, referring back to his writing in Getting Away With It

Some choice bits --
How did you find L.A. when you finally got there?
My experience of it was really limited to working and going to the movies. Because when I got there, I got there because I was working for someone who was teaching a film class at LSU and was kind of my mentor. So I got a job working for him as an editor. So I was either literally in the editing room, and when I wasn't, I was going to see a movie. It was just work and watching stuff. And I didn't really then, and I don't now, have any interest in the social aspects of the business. I just didn't and I don't. I do not have FOMO when it comes to that kind of stuff because all I can think of when I go to any event like that is, "I can be working right now. I could be two hours better at something. Instead I'm here."

Does getting older change the work at all?
It would be hard for me to judge from my proximity to it. I think somebody else would have to look at it and see if they feel there's been some shift. I don't think so. I think there's a before and after with Che. I came out of Che a different filmmaker, and the necessary lessons that were learned during the making of that have continued to be utilized on everything that I've made since. It cured me of any desire to make anything "important" again ever. But it also stripped my process down to a very elemental level and I've retained that even in circumstances that you would think didn't necessarily require it.

In 1999, you released a book of interviews with the director Richard Lester, Getting Away With It, that also contained a daily journal of your activities in the late '90s—do you still keep a diary that way?
I tried this year, because I felt this was going to be an interesting year for a couple of reasons. The Logan Lucky experiment was going to finally be tested. Mosaic is going to come out, which I hope will be viewed as a new way of laying a story out. And on the booze front with Singani, we've been working very, very hard on our petition with the TTB, the Tax and Tariff Bureau, to get Singani it's own category type within the Brandy category. We want our own designation. You know, it goes very slowly. But I feel like this could be, 2017 could be the year where we get our category, which would be a game-changer for us over night.