19 May, 2009

Charlie Kaufman, "Synecdoche, New York" interviews


Little White Lies:

"It really was turning 30. I had, sort of… I felt like the writing was on the wall in a way and I had to do something because this was gonna be my life, you know? And it was a very difficult life. I mean, I couldn’t really support myself and it wasn’t fulfilling in any way, so, you know, I got the idea to be very tenacious and actually get a job, and I kind of looked pragmatically at how I would do that and I realised that there was, kind of, a route to getting work in television in the United States – at least, there was at the time.

It was very simple, you know, in that you had to write sample scripts and if you could attract the attention of an agent then the agent could send them out to producers and then, you know, if they liked your script… It wasn’t like you needed a certain degree or you needed some experience even, really. You could just get a job as a writer if you could get in.

And so I pursued that doggedly, you know, wrote the sample scripts and sent them out, got an agent, which was also difficult but I did it – I pursued it until I got one – I came out here to LA to do job interviews and I ended up getting a job. So I started writing on a TV show when I was 32."

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The Onion AV Club:

"But I also think perspective is overrated and not what I’m going for. When I’m writing, I’m trying to immerse myself in the chaos of an emotional experience, rather than separate myself from it and look back at it from a distance with clarity and tell it as a story. Because that’s how life is lived, you know? Life is not lived 10 years ahead of itself—there’s a lie to that.

The conventional wisdom is—people say this all the time—you should only write something when you’re far enough away from it that you can have a perspective. But that’s not true. That’s a story that you’re telling. The truth of it is here, right now. It’s the only truth that we ever know. And I’m interested in that truth and the confusion being part of the experience and sorting it your way through and figuring it out. So if my movies don’t have perspective and they’re created in that “now,” then I’m kind of okay with that. It’s desirable."

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/film:

"Well, I think it makes it more interesting for an audience to have some complexity in the material, and also, I’ve got this sort of thing where I’m trying to make it feel like it’s a living piece of theatre, as opposed to a set, sort of a pre-recorded thing. And it’s sort of a tricky thing to try to make film feel alive because it isn’t. So this way, it can change when you watch it again at a different point in your life, or just seeing it for the second time, you’re going to see things you couldn’t possibly see the first time because you didn’t know something until the end. But, also, you get to look at details. You can watch things that are happening in the background of scenes that are informative that you probably don’t see the first time through when you’re just trying to get the thing. So that’s why."

Article in full

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Wired:

"“I’m not going to pander,” Kaufman says. “I’m going to anti-pander. But then the question I raise about myself is, Is that pandering?” Pause. “You can’t win.”

Article in full
Unedited audio interview

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Twitch:

"The basis is always the emotions. I try to always keep sight of that. The ideas are in service of that. So, yeah, it is an intuitive process. In this case I thought of images or events that felt emotionally moving to me and I trusted that. It took a very long time to write, longer than two years. So it’s had a lot of time to brew. I don’t start out with an outline. I don’t know where it’s going to end. I start out with things I’m interested in exploring and then I allow them to be explored. If I find something 50 pages in that excites me, the story is free to go in that direction. That makes it an expansive experience for me that, hopefully, is reflected in the movie at the end. That’s probably an unconventional way to write a screenplay because I think people tend to think of these things as products—“This would be a cool place to go. This would be a cool ending. This is going to sell the movie.”—whereas, I trust that I’m going to come to something over time that’s going to be interesting."

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The Daily Media Blog:

"Well, obviously I have a lot of time to read crap online [laughs], ya know? It’s one of the dangers of working at a computer and having a lot of problems coming up with ideas. I always have time to kind of ‘oh, let’s see what they said about me now’. That happens several times a day."

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