The Director's Chair
Directors ChairThe Director's Chair is a compilation of interviews from a variety of sources with many of our leading Directors of both the past and present. In these interviews lie "Golden Nuggets" of information from which everyone working in the Motion Picture and Television Industry can learn!

Where applicable, each article offers a link to Shop Amazon where you may obtain additional materials on the subject.
The Director's Chair interviews were provided by Roger DeForest.

There are 50 Videos in this collection
Director, Michelangelo Antonioni

Michelangelo Antonioni (On Directing)

I am not a theoretician of the cinema. If you ask me what directing is, the first answer that comes into my head is: I don't know. The second: All my opinions on the subject are in my films. Among other things, I am an opponent of any separation of the various phases of the work. Such separation has an exclusively practical value. It is valuable for all those who participate in the work - except for the director, if he happens to be both author and director at once. To speak of directing as one of the phases in this work is to engage in a theoretical discussion which seems to me opposed to that unity of the whole to which every artist is committed during his work.

Michael Apted | Director

Up and Away with Michael Apted

It was far from an auspicious debut. The first official press and industry screening of acclaimed British director Michael Apted's latest documentary, Inspirations, at the Toronto International Film Festival was plagued with projection problems. The framing was off, there was sound and then there was none. Some audience members joked that perhaps the hapless projectionist had been ingesting illicit substances when he should have been paying attention to the screen. And although Apted himself was not on hand to witness the unfortunate event, he heard all about it by the time our interview rolls around the following morning.

"You never really get a second chance," he sighs, clearly irked by the situation, "especially if it's a visual film."

Tim Burton | Director / Producer

Tim Burton - Ed Wood

Why did you chose Ed Wood as a character? Tim...

quote-leftThe first film by him that I saw was "Plan 9 From Outer Space" (1958). It had images I never forgot. Later he was elected ‘worst director of all time’. How can someone be elected as the worst? There are so many bad filmmakers. I started reading about his life and about the bizarre characters that surrounded him, like Bela Lugosi. Wood was always positive, even in the worst circumstances. When you read his letters, you realize he thought he was making great films, he thought he was making ‘Citizen Kane’. In a letter from his final days, Wood wrote that he led a great life and made great pictures and in fact, he was abandoned and dying of alcoholism. That’s what fascinates me about that character. He was very weird. I think it would be easy to copy an image by Alfred Hitchcock, not with his mastery, but it is possible to imitate it. But copying an image by Ed Wood is so hard. His images were very weird. You don’t know how he did them. Wood was something more special than just bad [laughs].

Jackie Chan | "Dragon Forever" (1988)

Jackie Chan's "First Strike"

You told me at the time "Rumble in the Bronx" opened that you didn't think that you were going to be able to find an American audience.


So, what happened?

quote-leftBecause, fifteen years ago [with 1980's "The Big Brawl"], I tried to get into the American market, doing the same thing, the same humor--I picked an American director, of course [Robert Clouse]--same fighting. They seemed to not accept it. So why suddenly can "Rumble" be released in America? I still doubted it, and I really scared box office not doing so good. Suddenly, big huge hit and I don't know. I still don't have the confidence how long this audience will continue to like this kind of movie, but seems I do have a big following. But how many people in America? There's almost two billion people, right?

James Cameron on "Charlie Rose" (1991)

James Cameron: as "Titanic" Set Sail

How did your journey to the bottom of the Atlantic to film the Titanic's wreckage change your conception of the story you were making?

quote-leftIt was sort of like going to Mecca first, and getting religion. We went there with very specific objectives, and I took two things away from the experience. One, get it right. Do it "exactly right". We've got the "real ship" on film--everything else has to live up to that level of reality from this point on. That imbued everybody in the art department with the same kind of crusade of correctness. And that applied also to what boats were launched at what time, what officer was where. The whole physical staging of it was also influenced. But there was another level of reaction coming away from the real wreck, which was that it wasn't just a story, it wasn't just a drama. It was an event that happened to real people who really died. Working around the wreck for so much time, you get such a strong sense of the profound sadness and injustice of it, and the message of it. You think, "There probably aren't going to be many filmmakers who go to Titanic. There may never be another one--maybe a documentarian." So it sort of becomes a great mantle of responsibility to convey the emotional message of it--to do that part of it right, too.

Bernardo Bertolucci | Director *

Bernardo Bertolucci: Face to Face

Bernardo Bertolucci, you have made many remarkable films. Your last film, "The Last Emperor" had a great public triumph in Hollywood. Were you happy about all those Oscars?

quote-left You know for a European director the Oscar is a kind of very remote ceremony. It is something that it doesn't belong to us. Of course, the moment you get nine of it, the things change; so I felt suddenly sucked into a world, a universe, which is not my universe, which is a kind of legendary Hollywood universe. What it was interesting and reassuring is that the Hollywood community in general is very, very, let's say, chauvinistic. I don't think there is a record of a foreign movie- because The Last Emperor is an independent, European movie- that has this kind of success. So it was curious why; and people executive of the major companies came to congratulate me, and they told me in general more or less the same thing. The Last Emperor gave them the feeling of cinema as... They said this movie will make us think of the reason why we decided to be in movie business.

Luc Besson | Director

Luc Besson on "The Fifth Element"

The "Fifth Element" is fantastic. Where did you get the idea for this?

I started to write it at sixteen years old. I was living outside of Paris, sixty kilometers from Paris. No TV. No V.C.R. Very much in the country, and not so many friends. It was pretty boring for an adolescent. So I started to invent this world where I can be a wild cab driver [Willis's character, Korben Dallas]. It was just a way to escape at first.

Joe Berlinger | Documentary Filmmaker *

Joe Berlinger: Paradise Lost

What was the biggest difference between making "Brother's Keeper" and "Paradise Lost"?

quote-leftIn many ways "Brother's Keeper" and "Paradise Lost" are the mirror images of each other. In "Brother's Keeper," the community represents core American values in rallying around one of their downtrodden members and refusing to accept the stereotype that the police were trying to push. The police were saying: "These smelly old brothers are subhuman; this is a "sex gone bad" murder; look at the way they live; Delbert's guilty." The community refused to believe them and rallied behind Delbert and tried to help him.

John Carpenter | Director

John Carpenter talks about "Escape from LA"

How does it feel crawling back into the world of Snake Plissken?

quote-leftThe weekend before we started principal photography, I was sitting around my house, brooding. My wife and my son said, "What's wrong with you?" I said, "I'm worried that I don't know the style." The original "Escape from New York" was written in 1974 and wasn't made until 1981. That was a young man's idea, it was a vision of somebody who saw things differently. Now, I'm an old veteran. Am I going to be able to get back in the saddle again?

John Boorman | Director

John Boorman: On "The General"

Watching "The General", I could think of several reasons why Martin Cahill would be a good figure for a John Boorman movie. He's a nonconformist. He sets himself impossible tasks, which you've certainly done in some of the circumstances you've filmed under. But there's a real ambivalence about him as well.

quote-leftLiving in Ireland as I do, and have done for the last 30 years, I was very conscious of him. In fact, we have a curiously intimate personal connection. He robbed my house in 1981. At that time, he was really just a cat burglar -- he wasn't doing any of these big things, but he was very audacious then, and provocative. The police recognized his modus vivendi, but also he always wanted to be known when he pulled off these things. He wanted the credit for them. It was also a challenge, you know: "Well, OK now try and prove it. I did that, now prove it." But amongst the things he took was this gold record I had for the music for "Deliverance". So I put that in the movie; that was my revenge.