Talking to Joss Whedon
Due to the power of the internet, Disney (who you may remember now owns Marvel Comics) was able to organize a college-wide “press conference” in which student journalists, such as myself, would be able to pose various questions to Joss Whedon, the director of the soon-to-be-released “Marvel’s The Avengers,” in advance. Able to throw two questions at the director, to which he would answer one, I must admit I copped out a bit.
Whereas it seemed a majority of the other student-questioners posed more “Avenger” related questions, mine were much simpler. I asked 1. “What was it like to adopt something for the screen?” and 2. “What advice would you give to any student with ambitions of one day sitting in the director’s chair?” with the “any student” of course being a sly reference to myself.
Thankfully the studio picked the latter, the first was asked by most the other journalists in much more specific ways. Whedon’s answer was as follows:
“My advice would be sit down. Now you’re in the director’s chair. We live in an age where anybody can make a movie. If you have a phone, you can make a movie. Okay, maybe not a huge movie, maybe phone sized, but it’s, it’s, there. When I came up, you wrote a script, and you hoped and hoped. Or you raised enough money to make a short film. Things are different now and the best way to get your work out there, not just, you know, as an offering to somebody else to hope they’ll make it, but to show yourself as a filmmaker, and to learn as a filmmaker is just make movies. You know, there’s no excuse not to now.”
And it must be said that he’s absolutely correct. With the rise of the digital medium- from mainstream blockbusters to home video- the artistic field has never been so accessible to the would-be filmmaker. Before digital, or even video, the amateur Scorsese had to acquire the costly material that was film, greatly limiting how much one could shoot or what, if anything, else they could spend money on production-wise.
One could thus say with relative accuracy that the present time is one of the best times since the medium's inception to attempt to, what I so coyly termed, sit in “the director's chair.”
Of the other questions posed to the director, I found one of the most interesting to be one in which Whedon was asked if by assembling all of the leading actors together he felt a bit like the film's Nick Fury, who, a la Marvel canon, is the founder of the S.H.E.I.LD. organization. His response:
“I felt very much like Nick Fury. He’s the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., literally, and that puts him at a remove from everybody, even if he likes them. He knows he’s putting them in harm’s way. Hopefully I’m not putting my actors in harm’s way. Hopefully I’m not even making them uncomfortable, but, I’m not nearly as intelligent or manipulative as Nick, and I didn’t have as many problems because my actors actually wanted to be together. They enjoy each other.”
Today's director is then not just a military commander, but has the capacity to be a guerrilla commandant! Joe Whedon may have had a huge budget, an actor A-list, and Hollywood's innumerable resources at his disposal, but the idea is constant, “making movies is making movies,” and anyone with the inkling to do so should just do it. For everyone's sake, least of all their own.
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