On Saturday of Tribeca Film Festival I headed out to BMCC to see the documentary Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story. it was to be followed by a talk with Clint Eastwood and Darren Aronofsky. I am a huge fan of Eastwood's work both on the screen and behind the camera. The opportunity to see the man in person was too good to pass up.
The film was a lot of people Estwood has worked with giving their views on working with the man. Clips from his films and behind the scenes stills and footage was interspersed. It was an interesting film.
After the film Eastwood and Aronofsky took the stage for a conversation. When Eastwood directed the standing crowd to sit, they did. Immediately. All I could think was, when Eastwood directs, people listen. Aronofsky admitted to being nervous in the presence of the man. Eastwood chuckled and set the man at ease by saying, "what a thrill." For the next 40 minutes the men talked a little about Eastwood's career and the influence of Sergio Leone on his work, but for the most part they talked about his process. Eastwood said, "just tell the story." He also spoke to putting the actors and crew in a place where you get the most out of them. He compared it to having a "criminal mentality, be sneaky." He feels that making a film is collaborative, it works as an ensemble. Within the process, Eastwood talked about having realistic expectations. He said, "if something doesn't work, just try it again." When asked if there was a benefit to being the director and actor on a film, he replied that he thought that actors like to work for an actor. On getting a specific performance out of an actor he said that sometimes you have to be an amateur psychiatrist. He gave examples of appealing to an actor's ego and keeping things calm to get that great scene. It was interesting to learn that he doesn't use the words "action" or "cut" very much, especially with kids and horses. Makes them nervous. He also likes to leave the camera rolling when the actors think the scene is over, "that's where you get more natural performances." When he was asked which of his films were his favorites, I was surprised to hear him say two of his most recent, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. As for the future? He said he is often looking at this next project while working on the current one. As to how long he'll make movies, he replied "Wouldn't it be great to be 105 and still making films?" It sure would.
Thanks to Tribeca Film Festival for this event and to Mr. Eastwood for his generosity and candor. What an amazing afternoon!