Licorice Pizza - Interviews

Started by itwasgood, November 10, 2021, 10:03:41 AM

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Paul's interview with BBC Radio 4 Front Row programme, starts at around 2:40


Andy Jurgensen and Michael Bauman break down the process behind making Licorice Pizza look, feel, and sound just like the '70s


How 'Licorice Pizza's' Production Designer Florencia Martin Found Pinballs and Waterbeds
Jazz Tangcay-Dec 23, 2021 9:45am PT

Paul Thomas Anderson has surveyed L.A.'s San Fernando Valley from every angle in films like "Boogie Nights," "Magnolia" and "Punch-Drunk Love." For his latest, "Licorice Pizza," which opens wide on Dec. 25, he went back to his early memories of the sprawling suburbs, combining them with events from the life of his childhood-friend producer Gary Goetzman, played by Cooper Hoffman. Even the film's name references a favorite record store chain of the 1970s, although the store doesn't appear in the film.

Production designer Florencia Martin's vintage palette of browns, rusts and oranges manages to look lived in rather than kitschy, with plenty of period details, from the KMET billboard to beanbag chairs to Hollywood's Teenage Fair. One pivotal location was based on the store Goetzman actually opened as an 18-year old, Fat Bernie's Environmental Living.

Before Gary opens his own store, he's inspired by the owner of Mr. Jack's, a wig shop with a sideline in waterbeds. Martin found an article mentioning Goetzman in the L.A. Times archives that named some of the original waterbed companies.

Once the designer learned that some of the original waterbed manufacturers, such as American National, were still in business, she drove out to Covina and knocked on the factory door. "They looked at me like I was nuts," Martin says, but after mentioning the article, she ended up talking to an executive who was able to help her more than she had expected.

He showed her a shoebox full of Polaroids from the heyday of the waterbed business. "There were shots of Mr. Jack's and the custom-made bed," says Martin, who used the photos as inspiration.

When the waterbed business sprang a leak due to the difficulty sourcing vinyl during the gas crisis, Gary pivoted — in real life and in the film — and opened Fat Bernie's Pinball Palace. Pinball had just become legal in the city of L.A., and the astute teenager jumped on the opportunity to cash in. Martin worked with Gene Lewin at Glendale's Vintage Arcade Superstore, where she found pinball machines that were playable. "It was an amazing feat to find pre1973 working pinball machines," Martin says, "and create that fun environment for the end of the film."


Some more juicy morsels...

Paul Thomas Anderson: 'Valley girl stereotypes are all kind of horseshit'
On 'Licorice Pizza', LA's burbs and his new-found love of 'Ted Lasso'

Phil de Semlyen, Thursday 23 December 2021

If there's been a purer dose of cinematic endorphin than Paul Thomas Anderson's Licorice Pizza this year, we've missed it. A San Fernando Valley-set '70s romance with a difference, it's the filmmaker's funniest and most uplifting movie to date (and our film of 2021). It introduces Cooper Hoffman, the son of his old friend and collaborator, the much-mourned Philip Seymour Hoffman, as Gary Valentine, a teenager intent on wooing twentysomething photographer's assistant Alana (Alana Haim of LA band Haim). It also gives us Sean Penn as a boozy, maverick cipher for Hollywood legend William Holden and Bradley Cooper as the actual Jon Peters, another Hollywood legend for whom the word 'maverick' barely gets close.

In short, it's a story of young love and a goofy, sideways Tinseltown memoir all wrapped up in local lore and colour that you don't have to have been near to LA to appreciate. When Time Out catches up with him, Anderson – a high ranker on our 50 Coolest Filmmakers in the World list – is fresh from a trip to London, the setting of his last movie, Phantom Thread, and maybe one day a future film ('I don't know how soon but without question I would make another film there,' he says, 'it's just a matter of when'). But his own home patch is on his mind at the moment with the Valley's ghosts, old haunts and movie misconceptions all bubbling to the surface during our conversation.

Did you have Cooper Hoffman in mind for the role when you were writing the script?

'I remember having a flash about halfway through, thinking about him [but then] thinking: Oh, no, don't think that, put that thought away. Then we took a more traditional route of auditioning young actors with Alana (Haim) and nothing was even close to being right. There seemed to be a curse that I couldn't shake, which was that most of the young actors seemed more interested in being on sitcoms or on Instagram, than acting. I do not mean [they need to be] serious, just taking the work seriously. The irony of my frustration was that the thought  I'd had a year before tapped me on the shoulder and said: Dummy! You've got a kid right in front of your face who's perfect for this.'

Alana Haim is great too. Tom Waits is in it too – and David Bowie is on the soundtrack. Why do musicians make such good actors? Is it that they're comfortable performing or is there something more to it?

'It helps that they're comfortable in performing – without naming some of the some of the great rock stars who can't act. Because you are a rock star does not mean that you can act; and as we've seen, just because you're a great actor does not mean you can be a rock star. But they do cross-pollinate quite often, don't they? I think the reason Tom Waits has success at both is because he's never not truthful, and I think that extends to Alana as well. That's why the performance is so messy and unwieldy – you can't quite grab a hold of what she's what she's going to do next – because she's incapable of performing something that doesn't feel honest to her. Lord knows, there were a couple of times that I tried. Even though it was her first movie, we have a comfortable enough relationship for her to be able to point out, very delicately, that the director was asking for something that wasn't going to happen.'

She didn't scream 'You're not my director!' at you, I hope.

(Laughs) No. That was one of her favourite lines [in the script] but it didn't make the final cut of the film. Great for the trailer, though.'

There's so many quotable lines. A personal favourite is Tom Waits's film director, Rex Blau, calling Sean Penn's veteran movie star Jack Holden a 'shiny, gold, tall, inexpensive prick.'

'That line is a combination of Tom Waits' improvisation and things that I had written. It was very easy for me to wrap my mind around these two characters because having grown up in Hollywood and been near these types of people in my youth, I felt like I knew them intimately. And my father was very much like that: the more that they loved someone, the stronger, more wonderfully worded the insults were. I always knew my father didn't like somebody if he didn't say anything to them at all, or he was polite. But if he greeted them by insulting them, and he got the insults back, that meant that they were a genuine friend. I just indicated to both Sean and Tom that that's what the mission was and they could run with it and do variations on it, take after take. That one belongs to Tom entirely, I think.'

'Valley girl' has become a catch-all for any girl west of the Mississippi. The stereotypes are all kind of horseshit
I don't know whether you'd call Licorice Pizza a love letter to the Valley, but it's certainly a movie that loves the Valley. Are there things that movies get wrong about the Valley that get under your skin?

'It's funny just how long the Valley's reputation has lasted, because I don't think there's been any films in recent memory that have taken a swipe at it or made some attempt to portray it as something that it isn't. It's just wild that the stereotypical vision of the San Fernando Valley, which started probably back in the early '80s, has had such a long life. I think it's more of a catch-all probably for somebody from Europe, [where] Valley Girl kind of equals "American Girl" and any girl west of the Mississippi. The stereotypes are New York cosmopolitan girls – The Devil Wears Prada-type – and Barbies from California. They're all kind of horseshit.'

Is there a bygone Valley spot that you particularly miss?

'Is there just one? No way, there's a million of them. The most painful ones are the movie theatres that have gone away: the Studio City Theatre, the La Reina Theatre, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, even the Mann Valley West Theatre in Tarzana. So I start with movie theatres as my sources of pain, and then you start to tick off the wonderful coffee shops and restaurants: Du-par's in Studio City, where we shot Boogie Nights, is now a Sephora. The Tail o' the Cock, which we portray in the film, is no longer there. They used to allow for more wide open spaces in the middle of these suburbs, so you'd have pony rides on these huge vacant lots right next to Ventura Boulevard with a slide on it that you could ride down on a potato sack. Some guy had a farm! I miss those kinds of things.'

You've been trying to work with Sean Penn for a while. What was that experience like?

'It was too quick. It's nice when you finally get a chance to work with somebody when you're comfortable in your role and with the work that you've done, and you can engage in a shorthand. I was incredibly admiring of him; I really, really think that he's one of our great actors and we're lucky to have him. Again, he's sort of irritating because he doesn't do it enough. He follows his own rules, for sure, and makes films that no one will see – that are super-challenging, super-unique. [But] long may he reign. He's one of the greats.'

He plays a version of William Holden in the movie. For people who aren't so familiar with Holden, which of his films would you start with?

'That's a terrific question. Hmm... where to start? Do you start further back with Sunset Boulevard and Stalag 17 or do you start deeper with S.O.B. and Network and then go backwards? I wouldn't start with The Wild Bunch – I'd put it on the list but it's more of an ensemble piece and a different type of feeling. It's funny, I'm so delusional that I still live in a world where William Holden is the biggest movie star and everyone, man, woman and child, knows who he is. I've reached that point in my life where I cannot see the forest for the trees. People have to tap me on the shoulder and remind me that no one under the age of 40 knows who William Holden is. Which is a fucking crying shame because he is one of the greats.'

When you get together with Quentin Tarantino and talk movies, do you have to be prised apart at the end of the conversation?

'No, I just stop talking and let him do the work. He knows more than I do. He's in charge of the conversation.'

Lastly, what are you bingeing at the moment?

'This is really embarrassing to admit but I only saw the first episode of Ted Lasso very recently. People will say: "Oh, you haven't seen Ted Lasso?" and then you finally get to it and you feel like a dummy for taking so long to get to it. It's great.'


'Licorice Pizza': Alana Haim On The Secretive Mysteriousness Of Director Paul Thomas Anderson [Deep Focus Podcast]



On the Increment Vice podcast (the interview is really about LP). Starts around 16:10


That's quite a 'get' for them (although probably a lot easier during this marketing blitz).

[edit]  Good interview.  More gems from Paul.  Travis and I have a tortured relationship, but he did ask some good questions.

Three tidbits I found fascinating:
Spoiler: ShowHide
1) Skyler's character in LP is essentially Tim Matheson (who was with Gary during that Sullivan visit), 2) the development that Wachs was trying to stop prevailed and is the existing Beverly Ridge Estates.  3) It was a young Jonathan Demme that directed Joel's campaign spots.


Quote from: Drill on December 26, 2021, 01:22:02 AM

I really hope some fellow PTA obsessed person in this world recorded all of his bits hosting. I don't have cable anymore, so I missed this.


I had this exact thought.  Anyone?  :(



Nice to see Mr. Bauman getting a little attention.

Michael Bauman on Lighting Licorice Pizza and Bringing Paul Thomas Anderson's Vision to Life
Training Day, Iron Man, The Master, Munich, Ford v Ferrari, The Bling Ring, Nightcrawler, Ray, Birds of Prey, You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Syriana, The Conjuring 2––meet Michael Bauman, the man who's lit it all. That's not even a quarter of the credits to his name, almost all of which, since 1994, list him as gaffer or chief lighting technician. Different productions have different titles, but it's essentially the same job: he's in charge of light. Where it goes in or out of frame, how it's sourced, how it plays on screen, the strength, the tone, the hue, the shadow, all of it. In a medium created to capture light, that's a vital role. He characterizes frames through details that guide our viewing experience, creating thematic throughlines with color, or heightening specific moments with dynamic shading, or falsifying daylight, or something else we take for granted.

It's even more vital when you're working with someone like Paul Thomas Anderson––the writer-director cinema-savant behind, most recently, Licorice Pizza––who defies auteur tyranny on set in pursuit of inspired collaboration with his lead creatives, like Bauman, who also lit The Master, Inherent Vice, and Phantom Thread. Over the past ten years, they've become two of each other's closest collaborators. So close, in fact, that PTA asked Bauman to co-direct photography with him on Licorice Pizza. Bauman didn't have a single feature DP credit to his name, but that didn't matter (just like it didn't matter to PTA that Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, the leads of the film, had never acted). They basically did the same thing on Phantom Thread and we all saw how gorgeous that was. But I'll let him tell you about it.

We got on the phone with Bauman––perhaps the only man who's worked a chief creative position on a Marvel, DC, Hunger Games, Transformers, and PTA movie?––to talk about his history with PTA, what it's like working on so many different kinds of projects, his evolution into cinematography via Licorice Pizza, and the visual language of the film.

The Film Stage: I want to start with you. Licorice Pizza marks your first time as a DP. On top of that, you're co-credited with PTA, which I want to get to in a minute, but first: how did you meet PTA? How did you start working together?

Michael Bauman: It goes back to The Master probably ten years ago. I knew some of the producers on that and they were like, "Hey we need somebody to do a camera test." So I came in, did this camera test, I didn't even know what was going on. And it was one of the first camera tests we did for The Master. I met Mihai [Malaimare Jr.] and everything. Did one camera, which was really simple stuff, because with PTA you test like crazy. Three weeks later they call me and say, "Can you do another test?" "Yeah, sure," so I did another test, and then I didn't know anything that was going on with the film, and I said, "Hey, I have all these notes from the camera test, I should really give 'em to somebody." I didn't hear anything. Okay, fine. Then, "Hey can you do another test?" Fine. Do another test, which turned into a test for 10 hours. Then all of a sudden he's like, "I gotta do a music video for my old lady," and I'm like, "What're you talkin' about?" And one of my electricians is like, "His old lady is Fiona Apple. We're gonna do a music video." So, we ended up doing the video for "Hot Knife," which is this black and white thing. We had no gear. We were just trying to figure it out. And after going through that gauntlet he was like, "Okay, guys wanna do the movie?" So then we ended up doing The Master.

How did your role differ on Licorice Pizza compared to the other PTA films you've worked on?

With The Master, I was working very closely with Mihai, who was a fantastic DP. And, you know, it was a tricky situation, because Paul had worked exclusively with Robert Elswit up to that point. So, I didn't know Paul, Mihai didn't know Paul, we both kind of walked into the situation. And I think a lot of good things came out of it because of the content of that film and all of us not having that level of familiarity. But as the gaffer, especially with a director like Paul, you're kind of the connective tissue between the visual vision he has and what the cinematographer has. And you're trying to execute all that. In that particular picture, there were a lot of really strong technical requirements because we were shooting 65mm, we were shooting very slow speed stock, we were shooting Kodak's 50 ASA film for a lot of the movie, we were shooting on old lenses, so you need a lot of light to bring to those lenses. So, we were using a lot of light on that picture.

Then, we do Inherent Vice. That was a completely different dynamic than what we had on The Master. Robert Elswit is back, which is great. I did Good Night, and Good Luck with him and Nightcrawler, so he and I had a really great relationship. But he and Paul have their own relationship. But in the lighting department, again, you're trying to be that connective tissue. I think Paul and I had developed a relationship where, you know, he would just directly talk to me about what his thoughts were on the lighting and all this kind of shit. And so post-Inherent Vice he was like, "I've got a couple of little things I want to do," and it was this Radiohead music video for a song called "Daydreaming." And he was like, "What do you think if we just...kinda...did this? You know, you and me doing it?"

So we started doing these Radiohead music videos together, and those music videos were without somebody considered "the cinematographer." Then we did several HAIM music videos. And what ended up happening was, he was like, "This is kind of working. What if we did this on a movie?" And I was like, "I mean we could try, sure." So Phantom Thread being set in Britain allowed us kind of a different approach. One of the big inspirational points for that was the Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon. On that, John Alcott was listed as the lighting cameraman, and so Paul was like, "Look, this is great inspiration." And I said, "Look, let's do it like that. That'd be really cool. I'll be the lighting cameraman and Colin Anderson can be operator, and we'll do it like that." It's kind of an homage to how they did it back then. Well, when we came to the States and did Licorice Pizza, there were union requirements. You have to have somebody as a cinematographer. So really, we were working almost the same way we worked on Phantom Thread, but we just had to formalize it a bit more to meet the union requirements.

What did your collaboration look like on set, with the two of you sharing the DP role? Do you make a lot of decisions together?

It wasn't like I was doing X amount new job. We definitely lean into each other a lot more, because we do a lot more scouting together. There's a lot more technical stuff I've gotta be on top of. So there was, I would say, some slightly enhanced responsibilities, but creatively it was the same way we worked on Phantom Thread.

I did Munich with Steven Spielberg, I was the gaffer on that. And, you know, Steven tends to call out all of his lenses. Like, "You know what? I want to be on a 50mm here." Paul is very much the same way. And it's not like my way or the highway. I mean, Colin and myself have a lot of influence on that decision, choosing lenses or camera positions. But he starts with putting a stake in the ground and saying, "Hey look, I'm thinking this," and then we build off of that idea. In Phantom Thread or in this movie, he'd be like, "What do you think?" Well, we'd do a lot of scouting and I'd be like, "I think we should light through the windows." Okay, cool. And that will be the extent of the technical conversation. And then the rest would end up in my lap, as far as fill levels and contrast ratios.

I mean, he would have opinions. The thing about working with Paul is that his fingerprint is on every aspect of the movie. If you go back to Phantom Thread, he's talking about wardrobe, set decoration, the way particular items are laid out on the table. It's that level of it. He's involved head to toe in the whole thing. I mean, he timed this movie. Ultimately, the final timing and how the picture looks is all in his wheelhouse. And I think it's great. It's really great to see someone who has a very concise vision that strings through the entire picture.

How long exactly was the screen testing period?

With Paul, we did a series of tests over the course of, like, a year. He was like, "I wanna do this test. At a diner." But it was really him testing to make sure Alana and Cooper would work out. We'd roll into a test. They'd be doing dialogue scenes. And it was him also working the dialogue out, what's the dynamic like, all this kind of stuff—putting some meat to the bones. And one of the guys on our crew, Tommy, who'd done a bunch of Paul movies was like, "There's no way. These guys suck. There's no way this is going to work. I don't see it." Okay, cool, you don't see it, great, fine. We shot versions of that walk and talk scene where he's like, "What's your phone number?" Paul had that scene written. He had a couple of scenes written that are pretty close to what's in the movie, and we were just working them out. Four months later, he's like, "Hey, I'm doing another test with them." And we tested at a location that he was considering for Tail o' the Cock, which didn't end up being the place. And Tommy is there again, and he's like, "They got a lot better." And the thing is, when you make a movie with Paul, he really wants to know everybody who's around the camera. I don't care if you're the third electric, he wants to know who you are. You're some day-playing grip, he needs to know who you are. I think for part of his comfort, and the comfort of the actors to be very vulnerable in that space, he needs to know who is around camera.

And so, he knows pretty much everybody by name. He knows Tommy, we've done tons of movies. And Tommy's like, "They're getting a lot better!" And I was using Tommy as my barometer for whether it would happen or not. And then we did a couple of tests right before we started shooting, and Tommy was like, "Damn, man. They got it down." And I'm like, "Well, there you go!" So yeah, you do a lot of testing. And we test not only for the actors to see how they're doing, but also we're testing different film stock, different technologies. That's a lot of what the HAIM videos were, too. We're doing a video for them, yeah cool. But we'd also be testing a certain technology on that that we could maybe use for the movie. You know, on Phantom Thread, we did our first HAIM video before we did that, and we just rolled around the studio floor because he wanted to see how a stabilization system would work, which we ended up using in the movie. So, it's that kind of thing.

You've worked on so many different kinds of projects. You mentioned Spielberg, but you've also worked with Sofia Coppola, Antoine Fuqua, Paul Schrader, James Mangold. You've done two Iron Mans, a Transformers movie. You just did Joel Coen's The Tragedy of Macbeth, which the lighting is astounding in by the way—

I haven't seen it yet! Have you seen it?

Oh yeah, it's terrific.

Ah man, I can't wait to see it! [DP] Bruno [Delbonnel] is like, "You gotta see it! You gotta see it!" But I'm, like, never around. Anyways, that's good. Glad to hear that. Can't wait to see it.

So, what's different about working with PTA? Especially in comparison to working on, say, a Marvel or Transformers movie?

There's so many ways to go with that. With Paul, for starters, he has a vision, but he's very collaborative. Like once he finds a team that he trusts, he really uses that team as a sounding board, and I'm very fortunate to be invited into that circle. You know, when you talk about Michael Bay, for example––like Transformers, and I did The Island with him––I mean, Mike's got a vision, too. I find, as a gaffer, my job is to see: what does the cinematographer have in their head, what does the director have in their head, and how do I communicate those visions and execute that? And with Paul, it's very much about, like, he has a very clear vision but then he also really likes to see the magic that happens on set. With Alana and Cooper, there would be things happening and he would want to capture those moments. You have to have a bit of fluidity, you know? You can't be locked into like, "This is the game plan, this is what we're doing," because that could go out the window.

You know, with Paul, you shoot a lot in the script that doesn't end up in the movie. It was the same on Phantom Thread as it was on this thing. Ultimately, you might have other story lines you liked that are really interesting but that don't end up in the final product. He really looks at tailoring the whole thing together. And I think what's been helpful for me in this journey has been the fact that being a gaffer and being able to work with so many fantastic cinematographers––I feel very blessed to have worked with Janusz [Kamiński], and Robert Elswit, and Bruno [Delbonnel], and Pawel Edelman—it's just different approaches to the whole thing, but taking little bits of all that and bringing it to the party on this particular movie.

What was your approach in crafting the visual aesthetic of Licorice Pizza? In terms of movement, composition, grain, color palette, etc., and influences from other films.

With Paul what's great is he's got this whole screening room set up at his house. So he can screen 35mm or 70mm at his home. And he knows all the studios and who controls their film libraries. So he's like, "Hey, I wanna look at a couple movies as reference." Okay, cool. So, you roll over to his house, and, I got a picture of it, there's like 15 different prints lined up sitting in his garage, and you're like, "What's all this?" And he's like, "Well, I want us to look at American Graffiti and Manhattan, but I got a print of Ferris Bueller's Day Off for the kids, Jaws, this other thing..." I'm like, "Where'd you go to get these, the library?" And he's like, "No no, I just know so-and-so over at Paramount." Nobody watches these prints, so they're like, "Oh yeah, send a courier over! We'll pick it out!" And I'm like, "Do people do this on a regular basis?" "Nah, not really anybody. I mean, Quentin [Tarantino] does it, Chris [Nolan] does it." I'm like, "This shit's just sitting in the vault?" He's like, "Yeah! Nobody's watching it, so they're like, 'Yeah, take it! please!'"

So when we did this movie, he was like, "We gotta watch American Graffiti." So we watched the damn thing like three times. And that was really the strongest visual reference. Then, we looked at Manhattan—you know, the Woody Allen movie—because there's a lot of interesting walk and talk in that particular production. I mean, it's like everybody steals from everybody else or gets inspired by everybody else, whatever you wanna call it. There are literally shots in Manhattan and the visual language of that film where it's like, "Okay, let's use that here." So in the walk and talk at the beginning of the movie, where he's asking for her number and he messes it up a few times and they're just walking, there's a shot in Manhattan when––well, you know, Manhattan is considered an amazing work of black and white cinematography, and it is! And everybody looks at the classic shot of the Queensboro Bridge and all this kinda stuff. But what we were looking at is these walk and talks and how Gordon Willis handled them. He would just put a light over camera, and he had all sorts of stuff going on in the background, and he just went with that. So we duplicated that. Normally on a movie now, you'd light up all the backgrounds and do all this crazy shit. We didn't do any of that. We were like, "Let's just let it go black." Like American Graffiti. Because American Graffiti, you look at that movie, and they had no money. Haskell Wexler was like, "Dude, I got no money. So we're just gonna light their faces and whatever happens in the background, hey bonus!" And that's what happened. So, we embraced that.

When you're talking about the aesthetic of it, for starters we're already shooting film. Paul sits down with Dan Sasaki over at Panavision, who's their lens guru. I mean, in a world of digital, lens choices and lensing have become more and more important. And Dan is this total propellerhead who goes in and is like, "Hey, I've got this glass from this Gordon Willis set of lenses back in like 1970. Let's put that in something."

So you shot with 1970s glass?

Yeah, we used old ass glass, all this crazy stuff. I mean, there's a Gordon Willis set of lenses we used on Phantom Thread, we used on Inherent Vice, it's just around. Paul owns his own lenses. And depending on the movie, what format we shoot, spherical or anamorphic, Dan at Panavision will anamorphize it or put it back to spherical. So Dan comes to the party with a bunch of lenses. He's like, "Okay, look I've got this kind of thing I made up." And you look at this thing, and it's a total Frankenstein lens. But we put it up, we test with it. "What'd you think?" "Ah, it's pretty cool!" "Okay, cool, well let's shoot with that thing." So, we end up with three 50mm lenses, each doing three different characteristics, depending on what visuals he wants. We shot primarily with C series, which is an old school anamorphic. That's why you get the nice blue flares, like when they're walking out onto the golf course.

Did you intentionally try to recreate the anamorphic blue streaks from Punch-Drunk Love? Or is that coincidence?

It wasn't so much about Punch-Drunk Love. It was more about, like, "What sets the tone for the 70s?" And this anamorphic aesthetic was absolutely in that wheelhouse. So, he wanted these anamorphic lenses, he wanted some of these other elements. You know, he worked heavily with Dan on creating that lens, and Erik Brown the first AC, because Erik is a total lens geek also. I mean, look let me tell you. We did the initial test for The Master and in rolled three carts, each of them filled with like 50 lenses. And I'm like, "There are one-hundred-something lenses in front of me... are we gonna test all this stuff?" He's like, "Oh yeah!" and I'm like, "What the hell did I get myself into?" But, I mean, that's what he's looking for when you're talking about visuals. And in a world where everything is about 4K, super clean, get as much information and resolution on the screen as you can, he's like, "We need to degrade the image a bit. Let's make it so it has some texture to it. Let's make it so it has some more connection to the audience." So, that's kind of where a lot of that came from on the lensing.

How did the big spotlight outside the shop come into play? Was that written in or did you just find it?

[Big laugh] Aha! So Valley Skylights, which used to be this big company in the 70s and 80s, they used to have like 30 of those things, and these are the marquee lights that everybody used for everything. You know, movie premieres, big events, all this kind of stuff. And Paul was like, "We gotta have Valley Skylights involved." Okay, cool. Well, Valley Skylights is, like, gone. There are two units left. We get ahold of the guy, and he's like 90. And he hooked it up, was like, "Sure, yeah we'll come out and do it." And then he said they were gonna trash the thing and I was like, "Trash it? No way!" So, I ended up buying the damn thing! And we had it at the premiere.

Because one of the things about Paul, too, is he's like, "We've gotta use carbon arcs." Carbon arcs are a type of lighting technology from the 1920s that existed before HMIs, which are really the way people create daylight now. So, the carbon arcs were like a whole thing to this movie. And I'm like, "Dude, you're killing me with these fuckin' arcs." You have to use carbon rods and all this crap. So, for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, there was a technician who wanted carbon arcs on that movie six months earlier, and we were able to tap into that network. Because this guy had this old technology, which he'd completely restored. It's kind of like steampunk-style lighting. I heard about these things and we found this guy who had five of them, and we used them throughout the film. It basically is taking pieces of carbon––one is a negative charge and one is a positive charge––and you create this light source. And it's how they used to light movies back in the day.

We had one day when we were shooting—it's the scene in the movie where they get in the big fight after they saw Joel Wachs, Gary's ordering all the pinball machines, and Alana's like, "I'm a politician! You're some loser kid!" And all of those lights we had coming in through the windows were arcs. And it was 116 degrees that day in the Valley. And so all the LED we had, all the modern technology, was shutting off. But the arcs kept working. That's the only way we made the day. The old school technology saved the day, I'll put it that way.

So to go back to the spotlight. The spotlight uses that same technology, because it's from 1942. So, we tried that thing out, got it going, and it worked great. But that was something he specifically had in his head from back in the day that he wanted to see in the movie.

[edit]   Holy crap.  What an awesome interview.  My favorite non-Paul interview to date!