Are you techno enough to work on DVD transfers?
I generally work with the cinematographer when I finish a film. It used to be the transfer to a video master, and now it's the transfer to a digital master. You have to make sure the color balance and other adjustments are correct.
Do you think DVDs and digital cinema are better, since they allow you greater control?
Well, a digital internegative allows you to do all sorts of things. The entire idea of photography is changing. It's a tool that a lot of directors are using over the last couple of years, but I've been making independent movies and I haven't been able to afford to make any. But on the current film I'm making for Warner [The Brave One, a psychological thriller set in New York, starring Jodie Foster] we'll do one of those. I think the entire idea of photography is changing, with things that allow you to interfere with a piece of film you've exposed. I think it's brilliant to be able to change color fields and contrast.
That would come in useful if you're expressing different levels of reality, as you often are.
Absolutely. I think it's brilliant to be able to change color fields and contrast. I don't think you can make a bad shot good, but you can make an interesting shot more complex. The best pleasure, though, is when you achieve it all in the camera.
You do a lot of commentaries. Are they a way of further communicating with an audience?
It's a great time to revisit a movie. But what always happens with me is that I want to change the movie. It forces directors to look at what they've done, to revisit what was going through their minds, and to reassess it. I've watched a lot of them lately because they've brought them out on DVD. When I did the commentary for Mona Lisa for The Criterion Collection, it was for laserdisc, so I think they just took all the materials and adapted them for DVD. That was the first time I did one, about eight years ago.
Do you have a collection of DVDs by directors who have influenced your work?
Of course I do. Kurosawa, Bergman, Fellini, Nicholas Ray. But a lot of the more obscure films from the past are very difficult to find. There's a film that influenced me very much when I was making The Company of Wolves called The Saragossa Manuscript. I'm not sure it's even available on DVD [it is and can be found on amazon.com]. DVD hasn't really broadened the range of what's available to cineastes. Is Godard's Contempt available?
Absolutely. There's a two-disc Criterion Collection set of it. There's about a dozen Jean-Luc Godard films out now. The first high-def disc players are coming out. Do you intend to get one and replace your DVDs?
Yes, I do. But the initial releases don't make a very interesting list, do they? But I'll get into it when I get home.
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