How is filmmaking most different to photography for you?
People think film is a continuation of photography, but it’s not – it’s a whole different way of thinking. Making my first film was a big learning curve. It’s really hard to make a film, but very challenging and a great adventure. There are so many people involved and you have to try and guide them towards your vision. Sometimes you don’t get there; sometimes you get to a nicer place thanks to the people around you. It’s a struggle. With photography I have a strong sense of what I can do; I really enjoy and love it. But to keep developing myself I need to make films.
“Even when you are successful, you think your next thing should be better Or more successful. But success is a really dangerous element.”
What did you struggle with most in taking that step?
I really had to start believing that my initial thoughts about, for example, how an actor should deliver something, were right. I remember having one or two disagreements with George Clooney while shooting the American. On one occasion, I said, “well George, I know you have all this experience and I don’t have any, but I feel we should do it this way.” and he said, “you have proved yourself right most of the time.” it was very gentlemanlike of him to acknowledge that and also allowed me to realise that the little experience I had and the intuitive approach was working.
In your more testing moments, who or what do you personally turn to for strength?
I read books, I look at paintings - I try to see how other people see things. When you make things, one moment you think it’s fantastic and another you think “I could have done better”. I don’t think that ever stops. Even when you are successful, you think your next thing should be better or more successful. But success is a really dangerous element. I’m glad I wasn’t successful when I was young because it can be difficult to handle. It’s fantastic when it’s there but it’s more important to believe in what you’re making and love what you’re making.
You have kept a fairly low profile throughout your career – how do you feel about fame?
When you spend a lot of time on something be it a book or a film you want people to see it, so it’s inevitable that you’ll have to be in the limelight for a bit. But whatever else is out there, opinions about me or details of my private life, I can’t fight it. It’s too much work, so I let it be. I try to stay clear of the headlines. I’m in a really good place now; I feel happy where I am and that’s all that counts.
“In holland we had Herman Brood, who had a wonderful sense of style. He was a playboy, a burglar, a junkie, a painter and a gentleman. For him, style was part of his expression.”