Here’s part of an interview I found and saved not long after being kicked off my own first feature, THE PLAGUE, which I wrote and directed. I wish I could remember where I got this from and as soon as I do, I’ll credit them. In the meantime, here’s the snippet of Paul Thomas Anderson (BOOGIE NIGHTS, MAGNOLIA, PUNCH DRUNK LOVE, THERE WILL BE BLOOD) discussing his horrifying experience on his first directorial feature, SYDNEY (aka HARD EIGHT), and how he survived and overcame. I guess I’m in good company:
Before you made Hard Eight I presume that this wasn’t the first script you wrote. How come you chose it to be your first one?
Yes I had only written maybe one or two other scripts that I didn’t really like that much and I liked this one and it seemed that I could do it. It seemed that I could make a movie which was small with only four characters in Reno, Nevada and that I could raise money for it. It was really all I had.
You had no choice!
Yeah but I really didn’t need any other choice. It was that movie that I wanted to make. I got very lucky on that movie just to start making it but I got in a lot of trouble when I made the movie. There were some producers that fired me actually after I… It was my movie. I mean I wrote it and directed it and then I found these guys to finance it and they were real criminals.
I put the movie together. And they had all these ideas for cuts that I wouldn’t make. Some of them were actually good ideas but I was too arrogant to like see that they were good ideas and they were kind of dicks too. But they ended up taking the movie away from me. It was like this amazing lesson very early on where I was hit fucking repeatedly over and over again and I fought and I desperately tried to get the movie back and it was just a long, long battle. And eventually I got the movie back but there was a period where I did get beat up enough and where I was swimming in the darkest depression and I thought my career is over and I will never get another chance. But I pulled my self out of it somehow and the only way that I could get things going again is if I go to work again. So I went and got Boogie Nights made and the amazing thing in doing that was I went to get Boogie Nights made and that became kind of easy, getting money for it and at the same time I reinvestigated the fight to get my first movie back. And I got that movie back so I was in pre-production on Boogie Night while I was re-cutting and finishing off my first movie. And it was kind of a this great lesson that I learned just having gone in this really deep and dark depression where I couldn’t get out of my fucking bed and the only thing that I could do is just get up and attack, attack and attack. And I am happy that that happened. So it was kind of a great first lesson on my first movie. And I was able to learn right then and there all kinds of mistakes that I have made. All that arrogance where I wasn’t seeing anything and where they were right and I was just too blind to notice it. But I also learned that I was right on a lot of stuff and I should have fought for what I believed. So it’s just kind of a great lesson on my first movie.
This is a second great tip of the season. Beat depression by breaking it!