8th February: Side Effects released (US)
15th March: Side Effects released (UK)
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LET THEM ALL TALK
Photos | Official website
Photos | Official website
NEW & UPCOMING DVDS
Now available from Amazon.com:
Now available from Amazon.co.uk:
DVDs that include an audio commentary track from Steven:
Clean, Shaven - Criterion Collection
The Graduate (40th Anniversary Collector's Edition)
The Third Man - Criterion Collection
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Soderbergh offers full disclosure on Full Frontal
BY RENE RODRIGUEZ
(The Miami Herald, July 28, 2002)
Last October, when Steven
Soderbergh sent the script for Full Frontal to his wish list of
actors, he attached a list of rules that everyone would have to follow.
• You will drive yourself to the set. If you are unable to drive yourself
to the set, a driver will pick you up, but you will probably become the
subject of ridicule.
• There will be no trailers. If you need to be alone a lot, you're pretty
And most important of all:
• You will have fun whether you want to or not.
The resulting film, Full Frontal, is easily the oddest movie to
ever star Julia Roberts, David Duchovny and Brad Pitt. Shot largely on
over-the-counter video cameras in a quick 18 days, Full Frontal,
which opens Friday, portrays how a group of characters in movie-obsessed
Hollywood juggle relationships, affairs and the perils of filmmaking.
In a suite of production offices in SoHo, Soderbergh recently took a break
from editing Solaris - his remake of the great Andrei Tarkovsky's
1972 Russian sci-fi epic, due in theaters this Christmas - to talk about
his return to the low-budget, no-frills filmmaking arena where he got his
start 13 years ago with sex, lies and videotape.
Q: Full Frontal is about as far away as you can get from the
slickness of Ocean's Eleven. Was that why you wanted to do it?
A: I actively pursue different kinds of material, because I get bored if I
feel like I'm repeating myself. I've been lucky that I've been able to
move around in terms of genre and scale, and nobody seems to be
particularly bothered. It can be a real problem in this business, where
people want you to do the thing that worked again and again.
Plus I had to have a very different experience after Ocean's,
because it was not a fun movie to make.
Q: Why not?
A: It was just really difficult. I'm not inherently technical in the way
some other directors are. From a visual standpoint, that film is one of
the more complex pieces I've attempted. And I was making it up as I went
along, because I don't like to storyboard. To visually improvise a movie
of that scale is a very questionable approach. It was very stressful, but
it's the only way I know how to work.
Luckily I was dealing with a studio and a producer that understood what I
was trying to do. But there were days on that movie where I was just as
frustrated with my own limitations as I've ever been on a movie. And then
I hit Solaris. But that's a whole other story. Let's talk about
Q: OK. Your last three movies [Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven]
all grossed $100 million, and you won your first Oscar for Best Director.
Did people think you were crazy when you told them you wanted to make
something as small and experimental as Full Frontal?
A: Not really. All that other stuff just made it easier. I can call up
[Miramax co-president] Harvey [Weinstein] and say, 'I need two million
bucks for a movie, it's in English, it's in color, and it's supposed to be
a comedy,' and he says, 'Great, let's go.' That is the payoff for all the
hard work of making Erin and Traffic and Ocean back
to back. And the good news is that at two million bucks, this will end up
being profitable for them. Which is great, because it's a weird movie.
Q: You shot the movie in November with the intention of releasing it in
March. What happened?
A: We were right on schedule to come out in March, and Harvey said, 'Look,
I'll do it, I'll put it out, but I sure would like a couple of months to
set it up for people. Why don't we push it back to August, which is the
anniversary of sex, lies and videotape?' And I said OK.
The funny thing is that two months later, I was in the middle of shooting
Solaris and I started thinking about Full Frontal again.
Over a weekend, I went in and cut 15 minutes of stuff and did some
restructuring. I was really happy that I had the luxury of not looking at
the movie for two months after it was done, then coming back and thinking,
'These connections are not as clear as they need to be, this section of
the film feels sluggish to me.' It took three hours, and it was really
Q: Is editing the most creative part of the process for you?
A: The editing room is where I feel the most comfortable, actually. I hate
writing. Directing is really hard. Editing, to me, is the most fun. And I
try to be as ruthless as I can. There was a real risk that Full Frontal
could become too indulgent or self-conscious. I tried to be really
rigorous with it and stick to the characters and the story. I figured the
DVD could have a ton of stuff on it.
Q: Part of Full Frontal is about filmmaking, and there's a
moment in the movie where you break the fourth wall in a way that I had
never seen done before.
A: I wish I could watch that scene not knowing it was coming. I'd love to
know what that sensation must be like. It's like, 'What is going on? Is
the universe collapsing?' [laughs].
I was really happy with the feel of that movie stuff. When you see movies
that deal with film sets, they often don't feel at all to me like a movie
set. I was trying to give you that feeling. I didn't want it to feel
Q: A lot of people are going to wonder if Julia Roberts' character
isn't based in part on Julia Roberts. Is it?
A: She did a great job of goofing on the kinds of roles that she's played
in those meet-cute movies and also goofing on her own persona -- as she
thinks she's perceived. I think she really enjoyed that, and that's
probably why she agreed to doing this. She got to have a laugh at her own
expense. You have to give her props for that.
Q: What about Brad Pitt? He's actually playing himself in this.
A: I just called him and said, 'I need you for like three hours. Can you
come do this as a favor? [Fight Club director] David Fincher will
be there. You'll feel safe.' And he said, `Yeah, sure.'
Q: He's wearing the same clothes he wore in Seven, isn't he?
A: He asked me, 'What am I doing in the scene?' I said, 'You're making a
movie that's halfway between Seven and Lethal Weapon,' and
he said, 'OK, I got it.' He was a great sport.
Q: The movie has a very improvisational feel.
A: If you read the script, you'd be surprised at how much stuff was
actually in there. There are a couple of improvised scenes, and all the
voice-over narration was improvised, but most of the movie was scripted.
What did happen were some nice little accidents, the kind of things you
just live for. For example, it was David Duchovny's idea to have his
character have this plastic bag he uses for self-asphyxiation. He came in
and said, 'There's something about this bag that is compelling to me. Can
we incorporate it?' And it turned out to be exactly what we needed.
Q: It has been 13 years since sex lies and videotape launched a
new wave in independent filmmaking. What do you think of the state of
independent films today?
A: I think it's the same as it always was, which is that it keeps dying,
and then a great movie pops and finds an audience, and people say, `Oh,
it's alive again.'
You'll always have the extremes on either end: The big budget studio
movie, like Ocean's Eleven, and the hard-core independent film
that's really challenging and provocative and wasn't meant to find a big
audience. I've enjoyed working in both areas, but I think there's more of
a blend going on today.
It's great to have people like Spike Jonze or Gus Van Sant making movies
that open in thousands of theaters. There's a way for filmmakers like that
to work in the system, still do what they do well, but use the system to
reach more people than they might normally. You don't make these things to
be seen in a closet. More than you want good notices and all that stuff,
you want people to show up.