Ossard and Kusturica: Synergy of producer and director – essence of auteur film

radionica klodi

Arizona Dream by Emir Kusturica, produced by Claudie Ossard prompted a lively workshop full of anecdotes about vagaries of moviemaking. Kusturica started with a long list of Ossard’s production achievements, noting her ability to ensure and retain independence for her director. He then remarked that one of the main problems of cinema today was lack of opportunity to develop screenplays on the set:

“When you start shooting, you are under huge pressure… Eighty percent of movies today are about illustrating scripts. But the thing about moviemaking is so much about improving the script and your ideas on the set. This is the real advantage when you have a producer who will make this possible for you,” Kusturica said.

Prompted by Kusturica’s statement that the making of Arizona Dream was so much about freedom, Ossard added: “Yes, freedom but not just freedom. Also complicity. You need complicity between the director and the producer”. They then went on recalling the problems they had with US-based producers who wanted to control the process.

“In America, they say you have final cut but it means nothing because they control the distribution process. In America, a producer is more important than a director,” Kusturica said, continuing with sharing his stories about shooting particular scenes of Arizona Dream.

“Film is always about communicating. It’s about the capacity to communicate because the emotion in it comes from something which is out there, outside you, not from inside. You need to manipulate the image and processes… Many filmmakers think that they can do this in the editing room. But no. If you don’t edit on the set, you will not be able to do much in the editing room,” Kusturica noted.

Dispelling illusions held by many young filmmakers that film is so much about spontaneity, and taking an example of an MTV-style wandering camera, the author and the producer elaborated:

“Cinematography is very construed. There is no spontaneity. It is very precise and it is like architecture. You need to combine and coordinate so many things so that in the end even an architect would be impressed.”

Responding to a question from the floor to compare shooting in the USA and Europe, Claudie Ossard said that the American crews, in general and in her experience, were always slower than the European ones. Kusturica agreed:

“They were always slower but they could provide to you whatever you wanted. So many trained animals, cars and so forth. And if you want an atomic bomb, you’ll get an atomic bomb. Shooting in America is very standardized… The whole system works for it. But this is the reason why they have so few authors like Tarantino, Jarmusch or Andersson,” Kusturica noted.

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