They had been waiting in line for almost two hours, hoping to get a place in the master class given by Wes Anderson. Mostly film students or budding young filmmakers, actors and technicians. At least two-thirds were turned back at the door.
For the lucky ones who were able to access the press conference room, Anderson was generous, as charming, lively, funny and brilliant as his films, talking about his journey, providing some advice, with his own self-mockery. With his debonair dandy airs from an indefinite era: cobalt shirt on a cream suit and medium-length hair.
“When we take on a project, he began by saying, “it’s always with at least two elements that don’t necessarily go well together. The film is a result of this marriage of disparate elements, specifies this great cinephile, citing the example of The Darjeeling Limited, a work born from the desire to film on a train and to stage three brothers, inspired by The river by Jean Renoir (1951) and the cinema of the great Satyajit Ray.
By the way, no, Anderson does not refer to himself in the first person plural. He constantly talks about “we”, referring to his collaborators, including screenwriter Roman Coppola, who was in the room.
There is a lot of research in his preparation, he says, but at the time of filming, he lets himself be guided by the vagaries of production. He navigates, as evidenced by his symmetrical frames and his crazy ideas, between control and freedom of creation. “Of course you want to control how you tell a story, but you also invite chaos into your life when you make a movie,” Anderson explains, referring to the complex offshore filming of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
Some, he is aware, claim that with him, form always takes precedence over content. That there are too many artifices in his cinematographic lexical field. The word, pronounced by the moderator, makes him wince.
“Any film is an artifice,” says the 54-year-old filmmaker. Creating the illusion of something, if there is editing, is artifice. Even in the documentary, there is a microphone and lighting. There is something wrong. I use theatrical conventions in my films to show how this illusion is created. I like this way of doing things, which doesn’t “take me out” of the film, unlike others. Some blame me for it, saying that I create a distance with the viewer. It is not my intention. In a film, emotion can come from anywhere. »
To those who reproach him for the recurring aesthetic of his films, an invasive style, in short, he has this interesting answer.
And if he often likes to surround himself with the same actors, it is because he likes this impression of a troupe, with actors who are added to the group with each new project. “I’ve always made movies with friends. For me, a shoot is like a meeting of friends. When you have some of the best actors in the world among your friends, you want to work with them again. I think they come back because they feel loved. »
Talking about his influences and inspirations, he evokes Star Wars and Steven Spielberg, whose films he went to see in his youth in Houston. Then Godard and Truffaut, who often had books in their films (notably in the opening credits of Deux Anglaises et le continent). “Like them, I love books. I buy lots of them, books, even though I haven’t read all the ones I already have. I won’t live long enough to read all the books I have, but I keep buying them! »
Does he have any advice for a young screenwriter who constantly doubts his work? “I don’t know how you build trust, but I know how you destroy it,” he said, recounting that at the test screening of his debut feature, Bottle Rocket, the 380-person venue was emptied by two thirds. “I was overconfident. I watched people leave and tried to convince myself that they were going to the bathroom. Except they were leaving with all their stuff…”
The film, which cost five million to produce, brought in only a tenth of that amount. “It wasn’t an economic success, but a lot of people in the industry saw it, and since we already had a script, we were able to shoot it. »
He’s not used to writing scripts with actors in mind (“the script dictates what it wants”), but he still built his most recent feature, Asteroid City, around Schwartzman . A film he shot in the desert, in Spain. “I was very inspired by Wim Wenders. Yet I’m from Texas and he’s German! I loved Alice in the Cities and Paris, Texas. His vision of America was closer to the one I wanted to portray than to my own experience of life in the Texas desert. »
What does he do when he’s out of inspiration? asked a student. He sometimes turns to people he knows. To the journalist who, during a screening at the French Cinematheque, once reproached him for having made a film about a “family of madmen”, he replied that the characters of The Royal Tenenbaums were all inspired by people around him. .
More often than not, he says, however, he fights the blank page syndrome by drawing inspiration from the art of others, whether in film, music or the museum. “What gives me the energy to keep going is seeing others do it. Artists inspire me. »