Directors Interesting

John Landis on The Talking Room

John Landis on The Talking Room

The director John Landis recently sat down with Adam Savage of the Talking Room to discuss his life and career.

Over the course of an hour they discuss:

  • His break as a production assistant on Kelly’s Heroes (1978)
  • Working on Spaghetti Westerns in Spain
  • An American Werewolf in London (1981)
  • Animal House (1978)
  • Three Amigos (1987)
  • Make-up maestro Rick Baker
  • Meeting Stanley Kubrick
  • Paul McCartney’s song for Spies Like Us (1985)
  • Changes to the movie business

> John Landis at the IMDb
> Tested

Directors Interesting

The Future of Movies (1990)

The Future of Movies in 1990

Back in 1990 the late Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel hosted a TV special which featured directors Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Martin Scorsese discussing the future of movies.

Spielberg and Lucas made headlines earlier this summer by predicting the implosion of Hollywood’s current economic model, but what did they feel 23 years ago?

The answer lies in this programme – recently discovered by Cinephilia and Beyond – where they not only discuss the future of movies but also their careers and a good deal else beside, including:

  • The possibility of a sequel to E.T. (1982)
  • Spielberg’s interest in a Howard Hughes project
  • Lucas on the Star Wars prequels
  • Scorsese on Goodfellas (1990) and commercial success
  • The sex scene in Don’t Look Now (1973)
  • HD television
  • Film preservation

You can watch the full programme here (along with the fast-forwarded ads):

> Find out about 1990 on film at Wikipedia

Directors Interesting

Ridley Scott Omnibus

Ridley Scott on Omnibus in 1992

Director Ridley Scott was the subject of BBC arts programme Omnibus in 1992.

Titled Eye of the Storm, it was first shown on UK television around the release of 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992).

Although there is a certain irony that Scott’s career suffered a dip soon after (until his renaissance with Gladiator in 2000), it is a solid profile filled with various collaborators, including David Carradine, Sigourney Weaver, Mimi Rogers, Michael Douglas and his two sons Jake and Luke.

Amongst the things discussed are:

> More on Ridley Scott at Wikipedia
> Sundance Labs interview with Ridley Scott from 2002

Directors Interesting

Sidney Lumet Interview from 1999

Back in 1999 director Sidney Lumet sat down for a three hour interview about his life and career in television.

He later went on to make his name as a film director with such films as 12 Angry Men (1957), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976) and The Verdict (1982).

But his background in theatre and television were a big influence on his subsequent work and this lengthy discussion is a fascinating insight into his early career.

The conversation with Ralph Engelmen in 1999 for the Archive of American Television covered his growing up during the Depression, his early work in theater and the pioneering days of television, the era of McCarthyism and his subsequent transition to feature films.



  • Actor training
  • The thread between modern playwrights and ancient Greek drama
  • Why early television recruited people from the theater
  • How he got hired by CBS in 1950 before he even owned a TV
  • Working as an assistant to then-director Yul Brynner
  • How the production technology of early TV worked.


  • The early live TV dramas of the 1950s
  • How audio was recorded in early television (no radio mics!)
  • Working with Walter Cronkite
  • Camera interview techniques
  • Working with James Dean
  • How the discipline of TV served him well in later years
  • The legendary CBS news team and the Blacklist


  • How he was visited by two FBI agents (who actually wore fedoras) during the Second Red Scare
  • The Blacklisted writers who formed a co-op
  • Actors who were effectively banned during this period
  • How rumours quickly spread
  • His return to Broadway and how Henry Fonda spotted him for 12 Angry Men


  • The origins of 12 Angry Men
  • Differences between working in film and TV
  • His encyclopaedic knowledge of camera lenses
  • How TV cameras used multiple lenses and subsequently proved great training for movies
  • His approach to working with actors
  • How directing is distilling a piece to a core theme
  • The importance of flexibility
  • The painful process of acting
  • How the lack of interior studio space in New York boosted TV production in LA.


  • His first experiences with videotape
  • The differences between working on videotape and film
  • How video is ‘far superior’ to film (remember, this was 1999!)
  • The reason live TV dramas died out
  • The influence of money on quality TV shows (‘the common denominator became more common’)
  • How he directed ‘The Howard Beale Show’ live when he shot Network (1976)
  • How everything in that film has actually happened …except killing someone
  • How TV network rivalries actually helped boost the appeal of Network (they all thought it was about a rival)
  • The isolating experience of watching TV compared to cinema or sports
  • How TV essentially stopped the Vietnam War and advice for people starting out

It’s a bit of a beast to sit through in one go, so it might be worth watching in half hour chunks.

> Sidney Lumet at IMDb, Wikipedia and TSFDT
> Buy 12 Angry Men, The Offence, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Network and The Verdict on Amazon UK

Directors Documentaries

A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies

The BFI have put Martin Scorsese’s 1995 documentary about American cinema online.

Titled A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies it was produced by the British Film Institute and originally aired in three parts on Channel 4 back in 1995.

Co-directed with Michael Henry Wilson, it explores Scorsese’s favourite American films grouped according to three different types of directors:

With contributions from the likes of Billy Wilder and Clint Eastwood it is essential viewing.

You can watch it in full here:

A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese (1995) by BFIfilms

His documentaries about cinema are like the best film school you never went to, featuring invaluable insights from a master director and a passionate movie fan.

The best compliment I can pay them is that you should just see them as soon as you possibly can.

Scorsese also made a documentary about Italian films called My Voyage to Italy (1999) and is currently preparing one about British cinema.

> Martin Scorsese at Wikipedia
> DVD review of My Voyage to Italy