A good filmmaker is a person who can see something with the senses and then move away when it makes you uncomfortable or when an issue is not clear. That is exactly what makes a good director. It takes a long time to get them right. But I would say the only way to learn is in front of the camera and on the set and on the set when you find yourself getting uncomfortable. Once you are good, you can always learn.
The problem is that some people feel that if they are not comfortable with something in the first two minutes the entire shooting process is over.
Of course you want every second to be a successful one. But you don’t want to make every second an awful experience. I think you have to be careful not to do stuff that becomes unworkable if it is too late. Sometimes you can’t be a perfectionist, and we just have to find ways to improvise. And then you have to find moments where the situation comes together.
What film sets you up to get in situations where something doesn’t work out exactly the way you had hoped for?
I would say a lot of this material comes from reading books and journals. I used to read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, books that deal with social issues from the point of view of those who are doing the working. Books about the war and war crimes and war, a lot of those were about the atrocities that happened in Vietnam and the atrocities committed by the Vietnamese people in Cambodia. When you read them, you just have to do it in your mind. You’re imagining all the different things that were happening during that time, it’s all there. And then you go to a war film, it’s all there, but you have to go through them first and try to make sure that you are not missing anything.
Sometimes when you read those books or read a journal you can see the way in which things that are happening are going to play out in the actual world. For me, the way I make pictures is not just the way movies are made – sometimes you can find different things in these worlds than you might in a movie. You can find great ways to capture the way that a group of people interact in a way that you might not see. Those things don’t necessarily have to be in a movie because those things in a movie don’t necessarily represent what it is like to be on the ground in something like that. It’s just a way that you can tell a story and
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