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


THE FANLISTING
There are 436 fans listed in the Steven Soderbergh fanlisting. If you're a Soderbergh fan, add your name to the list!


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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Sketching, For a Change, on Screen
(The New York Times, July 28, 2002)

Steven Soderbergh shot to prominence in 1989, when a small, intimate film he had written and directed, Sex, Lies and Videotape, became a runaway hit. Its success helped to establish the box-office viability of independent films and also to propel a fledgling New York-based film distributor, Miramax, into the major leagues.

Today, Mr. Soderbergh is an Oscar-winning Hollywood director with hits like Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven to his credit. And Harvey Weinstein, the co-chairman of Miramax, is an industry powerhouse. But their current project, Full Frontal, which brings them together for the first time since Sex, Lies, is something of a throwback to that earlier film: small, cheap, quickly shot. Mr. Soderbergh calls it an "unauthorized sequel," although none of the original film's characters are in it, and it is set in Los Angeles instead of Baton Rouge, La.

The main similarity to Sex, Lies is in how the film shifts between at least two levels of reality, one shot on film and the other with hand-held video cameras. The "film" parts of Full Frontal, which opens on Friday, are scenes from Rendezvous, the movie-within-a-movie that is being shot with two Hollywood stars, played by Julia Roberts and Blair Underwood, in the lead
roles. The video parts of Full Frontal follow them and five of their friends (including David Duchovny, David Hyde Pierce and Catherine Keener) through their off-screen lives for 24 hours.

Mr. Soderbergh shot Full Frontal in 18 days, for $2 million, right after he finished the big-budget Ocean's Eleven. He recently spoke by telephone with Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times about the change in gears. Here are excerpts from the conversation.

ELVIS MITCHELL: Where does the title come from?

STEVEN SODERBERGH: The title was an attempt to excite Harvey Weinstein. He liked the first title we had, which we changed because it didn't seem as funny after Sept. 11 - How to Survive a Hotel Room Fire. And then I came up with another title, The Art of Negotiating a Turn, which Harvey said was the worst title he'd ever heard in his life. And I thought, "O.K., my challenge now is to come up with something that will make him levitate." So a week
later I called back and said, "I'm going to call it 'Full Frontal,' And he said, "Now, that's one of the better titles I've heard." So it's a naked, transparent marketing ploy.

EM: And what does it mean now in the context of the movie?

SS: Two things: One, it doesn't necessarily mean nudity. It could mean lobotomy. But I guess it didn't seem totally inappropriate because to me it connoted a certain emotional proximity. Like trying to strip things down, make them raw.

EM: And how do you respond to the question: What is the movie about?

SS: Oh, the same as I always do. Our efforts to connect. I mean, it was really that simple.

EM: But is it about connecting on a number of levels?

SS: Yeah, including issues of an audience and its attempts to connect with a movie, and where aesthetics come into play in trying to forge that connection. And making people think about why do they connect with certain films and not with others, and what do they believe on screen and what do they not.

EM: Why did you think you wanted to do something like this now? Is this something that was floating around in your head for a while - this script and this particular project?

SS: Yeah. I mean, I'd been talking to the writer for a while. But it really, to my mind, was kind of bound to Ocean's Eleven. I really felt like I couldn't do one without doing the other.

EM: It also comes after Erin Brockovich and Traffic, and it's pretty different from those movies, too. They are so much motivated by storytelling. And this, strictly speaking, is not. It feels anecdotal, like the movies of the French New Wave.

SS: Well, right, exactly. I mean that was our hope. You look at that Godard period of '59 to '67, and you admire his ability to sketch. And I think you can get too caught up in this idea that every movie you make has to be a mural. And I really felt like I'd been doing that, and I felt like I needed to afford myself the opportunity to sketch - where things aren't, you know, so weighted by expectation or budget.

It's not that I view the movie as incidental. It's just I liked the idea of having the freedom to write with the camera, in a way. And in an environment that seems safe, because of the scale of the project and the way it would be made. It's a fun way to work; it's an interesting way to work. It's sort of an irresponsible way to work if you're doing a movie on any other scale than
this.

EM: Did making Full Frontal change how you think about actors on camera?

SS: No. It only confirmed what I've always believed, which is that giving them responsibility is an exciting and fruitful way to work. There's a difference between letting them do whatever they want and giving them a responsibility.

EM: And when do you think you first did that - give them responsibility?

SS: I think I've always done that. I mean I don't think I would ever have articulated it until the last few years. But I think I've always given them a lot of room while dictating the shape of the room. But, you know, I like them. I mean, working with actors is my favorite part of being on a set. I live for those moments, for the surprise, you know.

EM: Did you want this to be lifelike?

SS: Yeah, emotionally. I mean in the "real" section of the film, absolutely.

EM: But what about the movie-within-a-movie section of the film?

SS: There, I wanted life-like movie behavior. Which Blair and Julia, I think, really understood well, I mean, I think there's a real difference in their affect between Rendezvous and the real stuff.

I'm fascinated by the agreement that an audience enters into with a film. There are layers to that agreement. The first one is when you buy your ticket and the second one is when the film starts. And I think within a certain period of time you begin to make judgments about whether of not you want to enter into a contract with this movie. Why is that? And what is it about a movie that gets you or doesn't get you? Keeping in mind, in fact, that the thing is a construct - but this sort of idea of belief and veracity I felt would be interesting to explore if you had these two contrasting aesthetics.

EM: Well, I was just thinking, Ocean's Eleven is so much about artificiality. There really is not a breath of fresh air in the entire movie. It almost feels as if Full Frontal was something you needed to do.

SS: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it was being planned concurrently for precisely that reason. I mean, I started thinking about it as we were prepping Ocean's because I knew I was going into a movie in which, I felt, at no point was I asking you to really believe anything that was going on. Or buy into it in any real emotional sense. But I began to be fascinated by that idea.

EM: Given that you wanted to make this feel as real as possible, how did that affect your casting? Because in the middle of all this stuff about the compact that we, as audience members, make with the screen, you've got movie stars.

SS: Well, but that's why I think there's a difference between, let's say, Julia and Blair, and the other people in the film. Julia and Blair are playing actors, successful actors, and to me they fit my idea of what movie stars look like. Now, the others, I think you could argue, don't have that sort of, well, arresting physical presence.

EM: Sure.

SS: I felt like everyone else looked more like people who you sit next to at work.

EM: Which is to say what character actors look like.

SS: Yeah. It's an odd little movie.

 


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