I called around and managed to get a lot of expired stock donated. I also used tungsten-based 35mm slide film to storyboard the movie – this really helped me show the various labs what the final film would look like and thus negotiate prices with them. They are much more likely to give you a discount when they think you’re someone that might be back one day with a bigger budget.
It’s so intimate, and it’s one of your best friends, this stupid script that you end up living with for seventeen drafts or twenty drafts. […] You’re like, ‘You’re still here?? Can you clean up your shit? You leave it everywhere!’
Zero Dark Thirty is the ne plus ultra of proceduralism, its ultimate expansion and reductio ad absurdum. It’s all about the well-nigh interminable process of searching for, and then eliminating, Osama Bin Laden. The premise and initial impetus of this process is of course the mythological demonization of Bin Laden, as the ultimate culprit responsible for Nine Eleven. But in the relentless proceduralism that the film presents to us, this goal or rationale is abraded away. The torture which the film has become controversial for depicting is of course part of this. But so is the process of painstakingly correlating irrelevant information, the accidental discovery of leads in years-old records, the repetitive tracking of the vehicle of the suspected courier, the endless bureaucratic meetings at which officials seek to decide if the information is valid and what should be done about it, and above all the military operation in the last thirty minutes of the film (has military action ever been depicted in the movies with such relentless a focus on operational techniques, in a manner that is utterly devoid alike of the horror of war and of the glory and heroism that are so often invoked to justify it?). The goal has been so absorbed into procedural routine that the ostensible climax of the film, the actual killing of Bin Laden, occurs offscreen; and we barely even get a glimpse of the corpse, zipped as it is into a body bag, which is to say treated entirely (and literally) according to Standard Operating Procedure.
I had never written a movie before and Dan gave me this huge list of movies and took me to Whole Foods with his laptop. We sat and watched every movie on the list frame-by-frame and talked through it. That was my film school, meeting with Dan at Whole Foods.
Caan comments on Frank’s manner of speaking and how he never uses contractions. He and Mann determined Frank was a man who was trying to make up for lost time, and his way of speaking slowly, methodically, and clear makes it such that he never has to repeat himself. […] “You knew he didn’t say anything he didn’t mean”.
Here are 15 things I learned from watching and writing about these 101 movies.
I loved following along with @jamesfflynn’s screenplay series.
If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.