TIP 53 | Visual Effects

TIP 53 | Visual Effects

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The Art Of Visual Effects with Rob Legato


As many of you may have guessed, we have an incredible guest, the legendary, Rob Legato. Rob, thank you so much for joining us.

You’re welcome.

Just so people have a sense of your career, what is your technical title and what is it that you do?

Technically, in features and even television, I was a visual effects supervisor. I was a director and a second unit director. The combination of all those things and a cinematographer. I was lucky enough to be able to join the ASC and the DGA.

What are those?

DGA is Director’s Guild of America and you need to be in the DGA to be allowed to direct on a movie log or with a union crew. I got in when I was doing Star Trek, doing second unit and I needed to direct an actor for one of the shows before I was directing a couple of shows. They got me into the guild so I could actually direct on a Paramount Law, which was a fun thing for me to do going from where I came from to that. The ASC is The American Society of Cinematographers. When I was going to school in Santa Barbara, I studied cinematography.

The only magazine that exists that highlights that is the American Cinematographer Magazine where all of my photographic heroes were mentioned and they’ve heralded their achievements in depth articles about how they did what they did, which I made up. I was invited to join The American Society of Cinematographers. I got into the union as a cinematographer as well. I direct and shoot everything I end up doing including the visual. At some point, it’s like directing essentially the visual effects unit of film or TV show or whatever.

To give the listeners a sense of the scale of things that you’ve worked on, you’ve done six Martin Scorsese films. You’ve worked on several Star Trek TV shows. You’ve done commercials. You even had a little piece of the Rocky IV commercial, the trailer of that.

The Rocky IV trailer. The exploding gloves at the end.

You’ve earned really the respect of your peers and the fact that you have several Academy Awards and Emmys as well. Is that right?

Yes, I do, two.

Three Oscars and which projects were those for?

The first Oscar nomination related to a story I was talking about was Apollo 13 where I was nominated. I did not win that time. My first Oscar was Titanic, which no one had seen me which is sad because we thought it was good. It’s an art film. The second Oscar was Hugo, which I was very prideful of because I love the film and I’m loving the film business and everything else. It was the movie about the beginnings of movie business that inspired every filmmaker from an inspiring filmmaker like Martin Scorsese. We had multi-Academy Award-winning collaborators, Bob Richardson, with three Academy Awards and Thelma Schoonmaker, three Academy Awards. Sandy Powell with three Academy Awards, Dante Ferretti, the production designer.

It was the best of the best working on a film about the beginnings of the movie business with Martin Scorsese directing it. My kids got to go to that particular ceremony because they missed out on the Titanic when they were too little and they were home and so they went to that and then I did not think we would win, but yet we won. It was a pretty special moment for them. They got to go and then we get to win. Then the third one was for Jungle Book.

TIP 53 | Visual Effects

Visual Effects: You only get good at something by practicing.

You’ve also worked on Avatar, is that right?

I made up when I was doing Aviator, a methodology of virtually of photographing something that’s not there. Something as yet to be built or is never going to be built. It’s going to be built in a computer type thing and you want to be able to have the ability to film it much like you would something that’s live where you have your instincts of how you look through the camera and changing your mind and putting different lenses on and various things like that and be able to see it in real time. I’ve made up a way of doing something like that for the crash scene in Aviator and then I presented it to Jim Cameron and said, “You would like this methodology,” which he did and he was going to do a different film called Battle Angel at the time and then he allowed me to enlarge it and make it big as if you’re going to do a big huge movie with it.

When he determined that he could, he did his pet project which was Avatar. I set up this virtual cinematography methodology of creating the foundation for the movie. That’s when I left and I did my second and did five features by the time Jim finished Avatar. I started the whole system and I actually came back and did second unit five movies later and one of them won Best Picture. It was Departed, was the next film I went off to do which gave Marty his Academy Award, which I was very thrilled about.

When people discover everything that you’ve worked on and everything that you’ve done, what are they most curious about?

The big one usually is Titanic because that is probably an iconic film at the time that it came out. It was an enormously popular film, so much so that it took everybody by surprise. It was a phenomenon. I wouldn’t say it’s like Gone with the Wind, but it would be the Gone with the Wind of its day, the most successful movie. It was seen over and over again by many people. That was one that everybody would recognize and won eleven Academy Awards. When you say you worked on it, you get instant credibility. I remember I was invited to do a speaking tour after Titanic and instead of being impressed that they wanted me to do it, if I made coffee on the set of Titanic, they would want to interview me and have people line up to ask some questions.

I totally get the obsession. I remember every school classmate, especially the girls, when that movie came out, would go see it three or four times. It was just incredible.

I went to New York. I was invited by the Museum of the Moving Image to give a talk about Titanic and it’s like, “Great.” It was very flattering. I went and they announced that I was giving the talk on Titanic and it sold out in under twenty minutes. You know it’s not me so it’s got to be the film.

I’ve had you speak at one of my Mirror events and I can guarantee it wasn’t you.

It definitely wasn’t me. They invited me back the next month because they needed a bigger venue, which was the Fashion Institute, which would seat 800 people and that sold out in an hour. I was like, ” Jesus.” Then I went to Belgium and spoke there and that’s a bizarre thing. I brought my daughter with me. There’s proof of this is that I went to Belgium and they invited me to a movie theater where they put a star with my name on it in the movie theater like Hollywood Boulevard in two theaters. People would walk over there and go, “Who the hell is this guy?” That was the tremendous popularity of the film that they would have somebody that no one would recognize their name or whatever come to speak and essentially get a key to the city and have a star in a movie theater in Belgium.

Considering the intense competition to participate in the entertainment industry, what would you suggest to people who want to succeed?

A couple things, especially in this day and age, with all the technological advances. You can make a movie on a laptop now. You can take even your iPhone and photograph and then cut it together on a program on your laptop and then add titles and sound effects. Basically, you could do everything that we can do in a major movie. You could do it locally. To continue to do that, do it over and over and over again because you only get good at something by practicing. It’s that 10,000-hour rule that makes The Beatles, The Beatles, compared to another band. That right off the bat is there’s no substitute for that. Even if you’re naturally gifted, you do need practice to try out your ideas and see how they work.

When you do get your opportunity to function in the entertainment business, you succeed grandly much because you’ve had many more experiences to draw upon even though it appears to be your first. There’s that and then the other portion of it and it’s something I had to learn too, is not to imitate anyone else. Not to try to be like another cameraman, another director, another actor that your value is the fact that you’re an individual and your individual point of view of how something should be done is far more interesting than your imitation of somebody else’s way of doing it. It takes a little bit of courage to do your own thing compared to want to copy someone else and hopefully ride on the coattails of their success. It’s practice, practice, practice, and practice being an individual. Your voice is the unique one, not the imitation of somebody else’s voice.

There’s obviously a lot of glamour associated to the industry, but what are some of the things nobody talks about?

The glamour is a very side note to an end. When you discover the people at the very top, like the Tom Hanks’ of the world, they’re just regular people who have this innate appreciation for the gift that they’ve been given and which not to take advantage of it, even though you know the world has beat a path to their door. When you finally get to the very top, the Leonardo DiCaprios, they’re hardworking. People have the same sensation that you have about your job and for the most part, the very top echelon is very modest and appreciate other people’s talents to a degree that you wouldn’t expect. It’s the tier down from that or two or three tiers down that try to make themselves appear bigger than they are. That’s the one who goes for the glamour and tells everybody what parties they’ve been to and all that stuff. The very best of the best, they’ve preserved something from when they were not famous, when they were not well-known that continues to pour into their work.

Then there’s the old expression, “There is no big time.” In the middle of the night, you’re coming up with an idea that you’re just lucky to do it so you can go to bed and then you discover that that idea was the one that people laud you about or say, “How did you possibly come up with that?” It’s like, “I was trying to get to bed is how I came up with it.” More often than not, my favorite things from movies have been accidents, have been we didn’t know what to do. There was a famous thing in Indiana Jones, the famous line where he goes into all these battles, all these people. There’s one giant sword fight left to do and Harrison Ford apparently, he was ill and he had to get back to the hotel and to go and have another big sword battle with this guy was impossible. There’s no way he can do it.

TIP 53 | Visual Effects

Visual Effects: Even if you’re naturally gifted, you do need practice to try out your ideas and see how they work.

The idea came up that he would just pull out his gun and shoot him and it became an iconic moment in the movie that made the tone of the film based on the fact that he had to go back to the hotel room. It came out of when you think, “That’s a brilliant piece of work making fun of the convention of these movies and it created this iconic character who is based on an accident.” Some of my best work has been I was aiming in one direction to shoot something and someone said, “Look behind you.” When you turn around behind you it’s like, “That’s way cooler than what I was doing.” You turn around, spin around and shoot that, and someone says, “How would you think of that?” It’s like, “Somebody noticed it behind me and I turned around and got it.” You’ll find that more than not is that people’s greatest moments and, “Take the cannoli,” that famous line. That was an ad-lib line by the actor and it became something that went down in history.

There’s an interesting study. As you know, I’m a science geek. Everything I do, I try to draw it back to research that looked at when people are most creative and there’s some evidence to suggest that in the late hours when you’re too tired to be self-conscious, it allows you to be more creative and come up with more original ideas. There may in fact be something to this like 4 AM, you need to finish the project. The restraints that you would normally have in the morning, being refreshed and rested aren’t there, the creativity flows in a different way.

It’s probably true because I think in the middle of the night, you don’t over think it. You don’t go, “Maybe if I tried it four other different ways.” You basically go with your raw instinct. I’ve discovered over the years myself and I learned how to harness it I guess is some problems I cannot solve during the waking hours. What I would do and take advantage of it is set up a problem for myself. Don’t try to solve it because I can’t and set it up. In the morning, I’ll wake up and the inspiration or whatever you would call it, the intuitive nature of it would spit out an idea and I learned not to quarrel with it, because when I quarreled with it and said, “That’s too easy.” I would make it not very good, but if I did what my brain worked on all night long without me paying attention to it, usually it would work out and usually it would be a good idea that I took advantage of.

You learn that without all the negative thoughts, talking yourself out of an idea when that goes away, that gets stripped away, like in the middle of the night when you had to come up with something and stick something in front of a camera and shoot it without any value judgment like this is going to be great, you’d probably do something inspired. It comes from something that you can’t explain. I’ve learned that over the years to take advantage of that. Appreciate that that’s how your brain works and don’t quarrel with it.

You shared with me once a story about how Hugo was being wrapped up. It was minutes before it was going to be shipped and you pointed to it as one of the things that makes Martin Scorsese so extraordinary. Would you mind sharing this anecdote?

It was inspired when it happened on Departed. What happened on Hugo was the very first shot I previews, which is the shot where it goes from outside like this snow globe of all of Paris, and then it goes from the outside of the station through the station, past people boarding a train through a steam going up into the concourse and up to discover a little boy looking at everybody through one of the numbers of a clock. That was the very first thing I did. Huge shot, figured out all the elements of how to shoot it, put it all together and literally from that moment on, that shot was not done until the very last hour of the last day before we shipped the movie out. That was the first thing I did, the very last thing to come in to the point where if it didn’t show up, that the previews will be in the movie. The cartoon that we did to indicate how we would shoot it would be in the opening of the film and not the shot itself.

I did that and one of the things in that was that I wanted to show Marty the possibility of adding snow to that scene because in 3D, the snow would be quite magical. In the story, the snow was not going to start falling until after the kid went to Georges Méliès house for the first time was when it was planned on in the movie. If I put the snow in first, you defeated the story point. I put the snow in. It’s not very good looking, a quickie thing to do on a computer, but when you see it in 3D, you’ll get a sense of it. He was impressed the first time he saw it. I fade the black. I did this whole big shot. Now make everything very tasteful and we finally get it. Literally, I saw a version of it at 9:00 AM. I did it color corrected, stuck it into the final DI, which is where we put everything together before you hit the go button and basically it prints out the movie.

Marty came in at 11 and I’m so grateful that we even had the shot come in. It came in from England and four days before all the composers that were working on the shot that took a year to render quit and left the building, not to be heard from again. Four Germans from the parent company flew in to England the weekend and put it all together. Behind the scenes, it was high drama getting this thing done. They work on it 36 hours straight, taking over this incredibly complex scene. Setting the stage, we’re so lucky we have anything and it was pretty good and I brought it to show Marty. I was very proud of it that we finally have something and it’s worth waiting for.

He sat there and looked at it and this is again 11:00. By 1:00, pencils down, the movie gets shipped and it goes to the premier. Marty looked at it and went, “That’s not what you showed me.” I was like, “What do you mean it’s not what I showed you? I only showed you the previews. There was no other version of this scene?” “Nope. That’s not what you showed me. That’s not it. I could tell it’s not it.” “What’s not it?” “The snow. It doesn’t look like the snow you showed me.” The snow I showed you was to show you what 3D snow looks like, but it was little conductor hole punch dots floating in midair. There was no art to that.” “No. That’s not what you showed me.”

It took a team of people working 48 hours straight to try to get this thing done. They’re dead. I can’t wake them back up again in England to even do any more work on the shot. There’s a thing called a matte, when you print in things, you have a black and white version of it that allows you to print in a particular thing. I had that and nothing else. Myself and the DI colorist, I said, “Give me fifteen minutes. Let me see if I come up with something.” We took this matte and we converted it to stereo, making a double image and I blew it up and made larger versions of it that looked like the previews and tastefully put in a couple of fewer things and brought Marty back in 11:30 to 11:45 and he said, “Nope. That’s not it. That’s not what you showed me.” I was like, “Give me another fifteen minutes.”

We put in eight to ten layers that were never planned. It was never meant to be that and all these different portions of the frame and essentially recreate it the size of something that was so temporarily done that it was never something I planned to do. We put it together and I’m not making this part, it was 12:45 and he sat back down, calm as a cucumber. He never lost his temper like, “How come I haven’t seen this before? The entire year we’re making the movie,” and he just said, ” That’s it. That’s good. I guess we can ship it then.” That was it. I told him about the people that quit four days before and that it was so close to never even having that shot in the movie at all and he laughed and thought it was funny. When he wants to do what he wants to do, there was zero pressure and he naturally assumed it was going to get done or something.

TIP 53 | Visual Effects

Visual Effects: Your individual point of view of how something should be done is far more interesting than your imitation of somebody else’s way of doing it.

It’s amazing to me that at certain points, and I don’t know how to muster this, I think it’s a byproduct of what you talked about that I guess he’s so good at selecting the right team of people that he knows it’s going to get done no matter what. You’re not just going to walk off set.

I’ll tell you this other story too. Hugo was a digital show. You had much more ability to vamp because you don’t have to film it first, then digitize it, then try to put it together. This was a film show and I’m not making this story up either. This is exactly as it occurred. It went to the final DI and everything was shot on film. Everything has to be transferred, edited in at editorial, conformed, retransferred to get off of film, to go digital color corrected and go into the movie. It’s a laborious process that had to be done. This is the day we’re delivering the movie. Basically the final checks hit the go button and back then when you went out to film, it would take three days to print it to film because it was going a frame at a time out to a film scanner. There was no instantaneous anything.

It was 4:00 that day, 6:00 that night at Technicolor. We were going to basically say, “All good. Hit the go button,” and three days later, it was going to be shot out to film and premier at the Ziegfeld in New York. That was the setup. There was a shot in the movie of Leo looking at pictures of his mother that we doctored to make the mother’s life appear more glamorous in contrast to his father’s life in the movie that was more with gangsters and things like that, one was rich and one was poor. That was the dichotomy of his character. We had a shot in there of pictures on a table of his mother on a yacht and at 4:00 in the afternoon, Thelma calls up and says, “Marty wants to know if you have a shot of Leo holding up pictures of his mother.” I was like, “No. I don’t have that. Where would I get that?” “Did you shoot anything like that?” “For me, it wouldn’t matter if I shot anything like that or not. I don’t have it now.”

I got really confused. I was like, “Am I missing something? We’re printing the film in two hours. What difference would it make? Even if I did have it.” She goes, “Marty will be very disappointed if you don’t have a shot of Leo holding a picture of his mother.” I said, “We have what’s in the movie now.” She says, “Yeah but he doesn’t like it.” “You know in two hours we’re printing the movie. It’s like goodbye. Thank you for playing and making 3,600 prints. You know that, right?” “He’d be very disappointed.” I was like, “Holy shit.” The producer I was working with at the time put down the phone and went, “They’re fucking crazy. That’s insane.” Exactly this moment, I’m not making the story up, I was going to direct a commercial and some guy came to my basement where I do a lot of work to pick up some of my equipment to bring to the set for the next day to shoot this car commercial I was doing. He happens to wear the same hoodie that Leo wore in the scene in question. I had back then a half resolution video camera and it was like, “I don’t know. Maybe we could do it.” I got this half resolution video. I made the mistake of telling this kid, “How would you like to be in a Martin Scorsese movie?” Now, he shook and we took the picture that we had in the movie, which is Leo’s pictures on a table, blew it up, printed it on an Epson printer.

I took the digitized image that we already had that was in the movie, printed it. I made a hard copy of it that was still wet. In the scene, it had to be perfect and you could see it in the movie. He was in the living room with a bunch of packing boxes around because he’s packing up his mom stuff. That was the background, the out of focus background. I’ve got a couple of boxes, stuck it on the couch in my basement and had this kid and I had a 100-watt light bulb to light him with and light the picture of him holding. I had to hold his arm because he was nervous he was going to be in the Martin Scorsese movie. He’s shaking like crazy. I did this and this is now 5:00, 6:00 is when we would hit the go button. I took the image and then I converted it, put it on a hard drive, converted it so now it can be put in the movie. I’d put in a special color space thing and I brought it into the DI and there was a picture of him holding up a picture of his mom in a cocktail dress at a party that we printed in, that we faked and cut it in and Thelma was there. Thelma Schoonmaker is the three-time Academy Award-winning editor, a fantastic person and a great artist.

I said, “This is the shot I came up with in an hour.” She goes, “It looks good to me,” and she talked to the colorist and the colorist said, “It looks great.” It was shot on video. It wasn’t shot on film, but because it was a close up you couldn’t even see the quality differences all that well. I did a pretty decent job of lighting it and obviously it was in focus and stuff and so it went into the movie with fifteen minutes to spare. Then I got a call on Wednesday after the premier in New York and Marty said he approved the shot. I said, “That’s good news because we just made 3,600 prints to go around the world. I’m glad you liked it.” That’s the precursor story of anything’s possible. That probably set up the scenario that you can do anything. Don’t say you can’t do something. He’s definitely one of those guys where, “I’m not going to take on what it takes for you to do it. I’m just going to tell you I want it and see what you deliver.”

Rob, this has been an absolute treat. I couldn’t be more appreciative of you spending this time with us and also the incredible body of work that you’ve produced is amazing and I’m excited to see what are you working on next? Are you allowed to talk about it?

I’m working on a film that we hope people will go see, it’s The Lion King.

The first time it came out it did half a billion dollars in the ‘90s. I’m sure we’ll bring in a few dollars.

The play made a billion dollars so it’s a risky play by Disney. We’re hoping people might see it.

Rob, if people want to find you online, are you on Twitter, Instagram, anything?

No, I don’t have any of that stuff. I’m afraid I don’t have Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. I have my email. That’s about it.

We’re not going to give the world your email address. Listeners, stay tuned because next we have the anonymous interview. If you can figure out who it is, you can win an invitation to Mirror: The Salon by Influencers.

About Rob Legato

TIP 53 | Visual EffectsVFX Supervisor: Interview with the Vampire,Apollo13,Titanic, What Lies Beneath, Harry Potter, Aviator, Departed, Good Shepherd, Shutter Island, Shine A Lite, HUGO, Jungle Book, Lion King.

Anonymous Guest Interview

This is my favorite part of every episode because we get to play a game and have it anonymous interview. We have the legendary Noah with us. Noah, thanks so much for coming on.

Thanks so much for having me.

Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions and we’re going to try to give people a few hints about who you are so that if they figured out how to use Bing or Google, if people still use that, then they’ll figure out who you are and if they guessed correctly, they could win an invitation to one of my salons. Let’s start off with the basics. Where did you grow up?

Toronto, Canada.

You stayed there for most of your career? I assume based on what I know about it.

I was back and forth, but I took a pretty big hiatus in my 20s and 30s in New York.

TIP 53 | Visual Effects

Your voice is the unique one, not the imitation of somebody else’s voice.

Is there an incident or a teacher or something that happened that really inspired you to go into your career path?

I grew up in a really artistic family. My mother’s an actress and my father was a magazine publisher and my brother’s the class musician. I guess the field that I ended up in was the only one left.

Were you inspired by a film you saw or a festival that you attended or something?

I started being an avid film fan when I was really young and it helps with the fact that through my family, I was able to sneak into the Toronto International Film Festival and go to see some raunchy movies when I was ten or eleven years old. All of my personal life, I was seeing those early Wim Wenders films and what have you. I was into the field really early from an avid viewer. I would not have probably talked about it in this way, but seeing the world in a different way and seeing aesthetics that felt different from whatever. Particularly, at that time one was seeing on television, which is where I was probably getting most of my culture was super important. I was lucky in the film field to have a number of smart mentors throughout my entire process of growing from a film programmer into a distributor and then as more of an executive.

Have you ever played the game of who would play you in a movie?

Unfortunately, I don’t look like this anymore, but for most of my 20s and 30s, I bore a striking resemblance with the Baldwin Brothers. Bank tellers tended to play that game with me on an extended basis, “Are you related to them?” Fortunately, I’ve grown out of that phase and I don’t know who’d play me now, probably someone sad and aging, so I don’t know if I want to speculate.

More importantly, who would you want to direct the movie of you?

It’s funny because the directors that I admire the most tend to do awful things to their awful characters. I’m not sure my favorite director is match up to the story of my life as I’d like to see it told. Even though I’d probably die horrifically at the end, I think I’d have a lot of fun in a Gregg Araki movie. I’d pick him.

For those of us who aren’t the movie expert that you are, what are the Gregg Araki films?

For those who don’t know Gregg Araki, he was a master of the early Queer New Wave with films like The Living End. He came to a certain prominence in the ‘90s with almost like the doom generation, which broke a lot of famous actors. He continues to write and make this wild, punk rock, super sexy movies. While I think I’m probably twenty years older than any actor that appears in his movies, I’d still feel like I’m that guy.

When people come on the show, they often share the craziest dare or a stunt or something that caused some success for them. Some people lied their way onto a comedy stage, which got them their career. Other people shared stories of faking it until they make it. Is there anything like that for you?

My first big break came in the late ‘80s when I was very young just out of college and the director of the Toronto Film Festival came out and said, “We need a way of attracting youth. Anyone have any good ideas?” I stuck out my hand and said, “Let’s do a midnight program. Let’s do these crazy movies at midnight.” He was like, ” Do you know any?” I was like, ” I follow that stuff. I’m super culty.” He said, ” Let’s do it. We’ll bring in some movies and let’s try and figure this out.” Literally, I ran out of the office and found a payphone because there were no cell phones at the time and called my very best friend. This guy called Richard Feren who’d become now a very important stage composer. He had all the research books at the time.

There’s this famous San Francisco-based publication that did incredibly strange films and a book about urban like the new tattooing movements and like that. I phoned him. I said, “Can you help me with this? Can you find me some amazing movies for this?” He was like, “I got some ideas.” Basically, I went over to his house and in over a 24-hour period, I crashed course in contemporary called horror, the New York underground of Lydia Lunch and was like, “Now I feel armed and hip and young.” I walked back in there with a roster of films you’d never heard of.” He was like, “Very impressive. I had no idea.” “No. It’s just something I do in my spare time.” The good news of the story is that I ended up loving this genre of cinema and did that program for six or seven years to some success. It gave me a real taste for this. It’s the new and unusual cult cinema was coming out, particularly out of the US at that time.

How many times have you seen The Room?

Less than once. It’s a throwback to a throwback. It reflects all these movies that were made then in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which were nostalgic for Herschell Gordon Lewis and the exploitation films of the ’60s and ‘70s.

To give the listeners a little bit of context on this film, there’s this guy named Tommy Wiseau, who claims to be from New Orleans but his accent is clearly Eastern European or former Soviet Union. It’s completely unclear where he’s from or how he has millions of dollars. They think he embezzled it or was cleaning money for the mob or something. He decides that since nobody will hire him as an actor, he will write, direct and star in a movie that’s going to be his big break.

It is by far the worst movie ever made that’s been shown in a cinema to the point that it developed a cult-like following because it became funny, it was so bad. He’s made the $6 million that he spent producing it back and it’s considered a hit. Let’s give the listeners a few more hints about who you are and let’s give them a chance to guess. Is there a moment or experience that made you feel like you had arrived to some degree? I know nobody arrives, especially in the entertainment industry.

My slice of it is a funny one because you’re always a little bit behind the scenes. You’re an enabler for talent and a vessel. Are you as good as you can be in terms of creating the right environment and circumstances to either ensure that kind of cinema or movement cinema is finding its way? Through the ‘90s versus doing my curatorial work, I was very involved in the cinema of East Asia, which at that time was going through a real transition. I think in the ‘80s and beyond, Hong Kong martial arts films were dominating public imagination. Then came this incredible new wave of Japanese crime films led by these two directors called Takashi Miike and Kiyoshi Kurosawa and it’s in the right place at the right time and did a big series for that at the Toronto Film Festival.

That ended up establishing that medium in a really interesting way. The show that I did was picked up by a lot of other festivals around the world and distributors and what have you. It ended up encouraging me to become a distributor of myself. I set up a company soon after called Cowboy Pictures, which then ended up distributing a lot of interesting foreign language movies including some of that Japanese stuff I was talking about. I’d say that propelled me into this second, perhaps more interesting phase of my career and made it clear that this was the right area for me to focus my life on.

I think we’ve given the listeners plenty of hints on who you are and lovely anecdotes. Listeners, you have between now and the release of the next episode to figure out who Noah is. If you can guess correctly on our website, you can win invitation to Mirror: The Salon by Influencers. Good luck.