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CALENDAR
8th February: Side Effects released (US)
15th March: Side Effects released (UK)


THE FANLISTING
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UPCOMING PROJECTS

SIDE EFFECTS
Information | Photos | Official website Released: 8th February (US)


BEHIND THE CANDELABRA
Information | Photos | Official website Released: 2013


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NEW & UPCOMING DVDS
Now available from Amazon.com:
Haywire
Contagion

Now available from Amazon.co.uk:
Contagion

DVDs that include an audio commentary track from Steven:
Clean, Shaven - Criterion Collection
Point Blank
The Graduate (40th Anniversary Collector's Edition)
The Third Man - Criterion Collection
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?


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Dialogue with Steven Soderbergh
By Gregg Kilday
(The Hollywood Reporter, July 30, 2002)

Since winning an Academy Award last year for "Traffic" -- proving wrong the pundits who had discounted his chances because he was competing against himself as the director of "Erin Brockovich" -- filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has barely taken a breath. He turned out the all-star caper movie "Ocean's Eleven," a hit at Christmas, and has recently completed principal photography on the metaphysical sci-fi tale "Solaris," starring George Clooney, which 20th Century Fox will release Nov. 27. He also spent 18 days filming his latest movie, a low-budget experiment called "Full Frontal," which Miramax Films opens Friday. Soderbergh intercuts a cinema verite-esque look at seven denizens of Hollywood with a semiparody of a glossy romantic comedy called "Rendezvous" to raise questions -- if not necessarily to provide answers -- about current styles in filmmaking. He spoke with The Hollywood Reporter's film editor, Gregg Kilday.

The Hollywood Reporter: Winning an Oscar often has an inhibiting effect on a filmmaker -- a director can spend years plotting his next move. How did you avoid that?

Steven Soderbergh: I was actually scouting "Ocean's Eleven" before we started shooting "Traffic," which was before the release of "Erin Brockovich." By the time we were finishing "Traffic," Coleman Hough and I were already working on the script for "Full Frontal," and I had written a first draft of "Solaris." Fortunately, there was plenty going on to distract me. My long-term plan was always to take a break after "Solaris."

THR: Were you drawn to "Full Frontal" because of the technical exercise it offered or because of the story it tells?

Soderbergh: They're both bound in my mind because I wanted to make a small, character-based film but not have it feel like the other small, character-based films that I'd made. The form and the content in my mind were both present at its inception, although ideas about both those things shifted over the course of the writing and the shooting and the editing. It ended up feeling very much like I wanted it to feel.

THR: So the notion of setting it in and around Los Angeles and Hollywood was there from the beginning?

Soderbergh: Yeah, for practical reasons. My own apartment is in there at the very end. My producer's house is David Hyde Pierce's house. Catherine (Keener) drove my car; David Hyde Pierce drove one of my producer's cars. It was the biggest student film you've ever seen.

THR: Why film the so-called "real-life" sections on video?

Soderbergh: I like the look of it when it's sort of not necessarily video. I degraded it heavily in postproduction because I happen to like that distressed quality -- I like the contrast, I like the grain, knowing that I was going to juxtapose it with the (glossier) "Rendezvous" footage. Had the movie been made entirely of DV footage, I probably wouldn't have taken the distressing that far. But in the context of the entire film, I felt like I could push it a little. I also liked the idea of seeing name actors in that sort of aesthetic. I thought that might be interesting.

THR: But the common wisdom in Hollywood is that you can't put name actors like Julia Roberts in something so unglossy because their presence conditions audiences to expect a bigger, slicker kind of movie.

Soderbergh: Well, we'll find out. That's the point, though. For 2 million bucks, I think you can pose that question. I wouldn't do it for much more that that, believe me. I think it is an open question to what extent people can accept this kind of movie with these kinds of actors in it. But again, I think it's worth finding out. If it doesn't work, then we know. And if it does work, suddenly we might see more of these, which I don't think is a bad thing.

THR: How'd you come up with an exploitation title like "Full Frontal" for what is the antithesis of an exploitation film?

Soderbergh: Oh, that's just crass commercialism. There's nothing polite or sophisticated about that. It was on the heels of having changed one title ("How to Survive a Hotel Room Fire") because it seemed less ironic in the wake of Sept. 11 and then changing the next title ("The Art of Negotiating a Turn") because (Miramax co-chairman) Harvey (Weinstein) said it was the worst title he had ever heard in his life. So the third one was the result of my sitting down and trying to think of a title that would make Harvey evaporate in a state of ecstasy. That was the best I could do. He was pretty happy. He didn't evaporate, but he was oscillating.

THR: The movie is asking whether low-budget, indie-looking films are more "real" than Hollywood movies? How do you answer that question?

Soderbergh: You can say it poses that question, or you can say I'm satirizing independent movies in the same way I'm satirizing the meet-cute in a comedy like "Rendezvous." But at the end of the day, I was really trying to remind people -- whether they need to be reminded or not -- they are both constructs, and they are both, depending on the material you are trying to put across, legitimate. "Full Frontal" was actually a useful way to work through some of these issues of cinematic veracity so that I could get my head clear enough to make "Solaris" without sitting around and pondering these sorts of cinematic questions. I'm interested in what the contract is between audience and the film and the filmmaker and how far can you push that. If there's a contract between the audience and the film, I was sort of exploring the fine print with "Full Frontal."

THR: Ultimately, you remind the audience that it's only a movie.

Soderbergh: I certainly didn't mean it as a "fuck you." To my mind, it doesn't negate having had some emotional connection, if you have, with any of those characters. If you were moved by the scene with Catherine Keener and David Hyde Pierce, I'm not saying you shouldn't have been.

THR: George Lucas has been urging his fellow directors to give up film for high-definition video. Are you ready to follow his lead?

Soderbergh: My own attitude is that film as a capture medium isn't going anywhere, and it shouldn't be going anywhere. I'm much more a proponent of digital projection. I think video as a capture medium is really interesting, and I plan to explore it more myself. But film as a recording medium is pretty hard to beat. It's really beautiful. It does some wonderful things that are specific to the photo-chemical world. Doing your shooting on film and having digital projection is sort of the ideal.

THR: Given that this film is an experiment, how will you judge its success?

Soderbergh: I probably won't for a while. I really think it's something that later in context -- if I feel like it -- I will sit down and think what did I do right, what did I do wrong? But I usually wait a long time to do that because in the hothouse atmosphere of making and selling a movie, I think it's really, really difficult to judge what you've done.

THR: You may have to decide by the time you do the DVD commentary.

Soderbergh: I know, it's frustrating. I found it really difficult on the "Traffic" DVD. I wish we could have waited longer to determine if it was something worthy of a commentary because I don't know if every movie is. I certainly know that every movie of mine isn't. You feel like you're anointing it before the jury's in. It was actually easier (to do the commentary for) "Ocean's Eleven," which isn't about anything. You feel like you can talk about it without being pretentious. This one will be fun, I think. We have a lot of material and extra stuff. I imagine that in the spirit of the movie, it will be sort of funky and pleasantly interactive.

THR: Moving on to your other interests. What's the status of the directors company that you've been discussing with David Fincher, Alexander Payne and Spike Jonze?

Soderbergh: We're still working on it. Until it happens, I feel like there's nothing to talk about. It would have been our preference for this to come out once it was done, and it's not done. There's just nothing concrete to discuss.

THR: How about Section 8 (the production company in which Soderbergh is partnered with Clooney)? With such movies as "Welcome to Collinwood" and "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" nearing release, do you see a company profile developing?

Soderbergh: I've made a concerted effort to be really involved with all the projects that we've got going. But we've just done whatever interests us. It will be as eclectic as the choices that George and I have made historically. We're really open to any kind of subject matter, and we're primarily director-driven.

THR: So are you determined to stick by your plan to take a year off from filming once "Solaris" is complete?

Soderbergh: Directing a movie takes an enormous amount of mental space. This is the first time I've been editing and not in preproduction on another movie, and it feels really, really nice. I feel lazy in a way. I think dropping off the grid for an actor is probably a riskier notion than it is for a director. I don't think anybody cares if a director stops working for a year. For me, it's just a necessary thing; it's self-preservation. I need time to recharge.

THR: To end on a frivolous note. In the "Full Frontal" scene where David Duchovny has a massage, there's an obvious, telltale prop that probably would have required weeks worth of negotiations on a studio feature.

Soderbergh: (Laughing). I think the consensus was to go for an average-size prop and one that wasn't electrified. I think we spent more time talking about that because we were very concerned that David would hurt himself. On paper, it's a very long scene, and I cut a considerable amount off the head of it, no pun intended. And I was shooting all these things in single, uninterrupted takes, and we would get five minutes into a take, and he would roll over and readjust and we'd pan over. Whether or not David had adjusted the prop in a way that I thought was correct, I didn't know until I panned over five minutes into the take. So there were a handful of takes where everything would go perfectly, and I'd pan over and go, "Nah, that penis looks wrong." I think David got a kick out of the absurdity of it. If people are laboring under the delusion that a bunch of sophisticated people were making the movie, I'd appreciate it if you'd set the record straight. It's worse than they imagine.

 


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