By Scott Beggs
Think of Your Career as One Long Movie
“It’s all just one film to me. Just different chapters.”
This may be one of the most famous quotes from Altman — aside from his semi-misquoted line about no one having made a “good” movie yet — and while it’s a harrowing suggestion for a first-timer to even try to consider a gargantuan task as the first chapter, it’s also an open invitation to place Altman’s career into the context of a 60-hour feature.
No One’s Ever Made a Good Movie
That’s not exactly what he said, so Altman cleared up the comment with eloquence (in a sweet turtle neck) and a hint at what filmmakers should be striving for.
“I feel the medium of film has not yet really been explored. In other words I think that when we started film, we took it from theater, literature, and we were an extension of another art form. It’s still that way. It’s getting away from it, and I think eventually somebody will make a film that’s purely a film, and the audience can respond to as such… the only limitations are the linear ones. It has length. It has its beginning and an end and it takes a certain amount of time.”
Don’t Restrict Your Actors
From this 1983 interview
The Safe Studio System Will Never Be Safe For Original Voices
“Altman says his troubles with Fox are symptomatic of a general malaise in Hollywood. Many of the major studios are being run by people with little practical knowledge or experience about the movie industry, he says. Lacking sound instincts about what the public will buy at the box office, they try to protect their flanks by making advance sales to pay-cable systems, video disk distributors, and other markets willing to pay up front for movies not yet made. But those secondary markets are only interested in ‘safe’ projects with established stars, so it’s getting more and more difficult to float an original project or a movie starring unknowns.”
Sound familiar? Good, because it’s what Roger Ebert wrote in 1980.
Don’t Be Shackled By Your Vision
After A Prairie Home Companion, Altman was asked if the movie came out the way he envisioned it. Altman dismissed the premise, saying:
“I wouldn’t know. Making a movie is like chipping away at a stone. You take a piece off here, you take a piece off there and when you’re finished, you have a sculpture. You know that there’s something in there, but you’re not sure exactly what it is until you find it.”
Don’t Take Advice From Anyone
From this interview during the Hamptons International Film Festival
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