Tuesday, December 01, 1998

Fiona Apple - Across The Universe (1998)

From the soundtrack of "Pleasantville."' Filmed in 5 long continuous shots, consisting of Fiona Apple oblivious to the chaos of many men destroying a soda shop. Many impressive moments, including the camera passing across a mirror & its reflection is not shown. Shot in black & white featuring a prominent cameo by John C. Reilly.

Tuesday, August 25, 1998

Interview: Neon's 10 Films That Influenced Boogie Nights

Neon Magazine UK
August ??, 1998

1.  Putney Swope (Robert Downey Sr.) (1969)
"I came across it at a video store when I was fourteen or fifteen. I got it because Robert Downey Sr. seemed interesting to me because I'd just seen Robert Downey Jr. in some little movie. I was also having a 'black culture' phase in my life, and this seemed like a real cool movie to watch. When I watched it, it was the first time I realized that you could be really punk rock in a movie. You could do just anything: it didn't necessarily have to make sense. As long as it was funny, or funny to the guy who was making it, it would come across as exciting somehow. It was made in 1969, and at the time, Downey Sr. style was considered to be very odd and very avant-garde."

2.  Nashville (Robert Altman) (1975)
"I actually just got a print of this to screen tonight because it's my birthday and that's what I'm going to watch. This film is perfect, absolutely perfect, to me. It's a cinemascope movie, which I love, and so incredibly bold. The long camera takes, the overlapping dialogue, the multi-track recording that he first implemented here. And to have all these stories but still keep you interested, it's amazing. The film feels so natural, dirty and fucked up, but so cutting-edge. Nashville gets me speechless - it's just one of his best. For me, it's right up there with The Long Goodbye."

Thursday, June 18, 1998

Flagpole Special (1998)

This 17 minute short was shot by PTA for inclusion at the RETinevitable 1 which is held at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Paul made the film specifically for the festival at Adam Levite's request who incidentally designed the cover art for the Criterion LaserDisc & Boogie Nights 2 Disc Platinum Series DVD. The short lays the early groundwork for the Frank "TJ" Mackey character as John C. Reilly & Chris Penn spend the entire film talking about how to "Seduce and Destroy" women. Here's a brief summary of the short by Res Magazine from their Summer 1998 issue: "Paul Thomas Anderson premiered "Flagpole Special", a single seventeen-minute locked-off take on digital video of the torsos of two guys - a long haired, bicycle panted, chubby ranting about women as his pal idly strums his electric guitar. Based on a conversation Anderson found on a discarded audiotape, the characters, portrayed by actors John C. Reilly and Chris Penn, managed to keep up their inane dialogue for an irresistibly mind-boggling amount of time like a flesh-and-blood Beavis and Butthead." The press screening was ruined by an audio malfunction (see the Entertainment Weekly article below), but was eventually fixed before the screening held for the public. Here's the piece EW ran on their website.


The director of "Boogie Nights" and other film notables screen their new experimental films Directors Paul Thomas Anderson ("Boogie Nights"), Atom Egoyan ("The Sweet Hereafter""), and Harmony Korine (writer of "Kids") screened their new experimental films Tuesday night in a show of short films and art installations at RET.inevitable, a sprawling art event in Brooklyn that showcased cutting- edge music and cinema. David Byrne, actor/director Vincent Gallo, and techno artist Moby were among hundreds of downtown denizens who packed the catacombs beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Films were projected on 50- foot stone walls and ceilings, while DJs mixed beats to video collages of flashy graphics intercut with scenes from such flicks as "Rollerball" and "Clueless." It was a night for young cinematic talent: The only trace of the Hollywood old guard was director Peter Bogdanovich's cameo in a short film by Francis Ford Coppola's daughter, Sofia. The directors' presentations veered from the inspired to the shocking. Egoyan's "Peep Show" used double exposures and dramatic film tinting that made it hard to follow the action. Music- video director Spike Jonze earned cheers for his hilarious short, "How They Get There," which showed how a harmless flirtation can end in a brutal car crash. Unfortunately, Anderson's eagerly anticipated work, a short video called "Flagpole Special," was ruined by an audio malfunction (Please note: this was only during the press screening. It was shown to the public with no audio problems).
Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly - Josh Wolk - 6/18/98

Friday, March 20, 1998

Interview: "Down With The PTA"

FilmInk Magazine, Written By Dov Kornits
March ?? 1998

He grew up in the San Fernando Valley during porn's prime and made a short film for Sundance called Cigarettes and Coffee. Then his first feature script Sydney (which became Hard Eight) was read by Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson and he made his directorial debut with this quirky, largely overlooked gem. But there's no doubt everyone who matters noticed his next film, the uniformly acclaimed Boogie Nights. Paul Thomas Anderson is 27 years old and down with Burt Reynolds, Mark Wahlberg and some of the hippest people in Hollywood. Even Warren Beatty has his number. It's about time he got down with FilmInk


“You know what, I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to talk to someone who has just given up smoking. No fuckin’ way. But I know a lot of people who have and they turn into maniacs. You’re talking to the wrong guy. I started smoking when I was 18. I had just gotten out of high school and there everybody smoked there. I hated everybody so I went the opposite way of what everybody did. ‘You all just smoke because you think you’re cool. If I smoke I’m gonna smoke because I want to smoke, not because I think it looks cool.’ So I got out of high school and was sitting around by myself. ‘I think I’ll smoke. But I’ll smoke in private. I don’t want it to be a chic thing.’ So I just started smoking and before I knew it (clicks his fingers), I was addicted.”

The Dirk Diggler Story

“When I was 17 I made The Dirk Diggler Story on videotape, which was a short fictional documentary version of Boogie Nights. Zelig format - interviews with people about Dirk Diggler. Then, you know, stood on that, kept writing scripts and stuff. Then when I was 21 made a short film called Cigarettes and Coffee, that went to Sundance and people saw that. I didn’t go to film school so I was able to shave some time in order to write. I shaved four years off my schedule by not going to film school. I had this movie called Sydney which became Hard Eight, got that financed because Gwyneth Paltrow and Sam Jackson wanted to be in it. Got lucky with that.”

Regular Cast Members

“I was a fan. Phillip Baker Hall and John Reilly and Phil Hoffman, all actors that were in both Sydney and Boogie Nights. I'm sure there are certain directors who just want to work with Tom Cruise. So do I, but I wanted to work with Phillip Baker Hall, you know what I mean? I wanted to work with John C. Reilly, I wanted to work with Phil Hoffman. I'd seen Phil in Scent of a Woman., I’d seen John Reilly in everything he’d done like Casualties of War, I'd seen Phillip Baker Hall in a ton of stuff. Those were the guys I was into. Fuck Sean Penn, I want Reilly. That's just where my taste landed me. That's not really commercial taste. It’s lucky enough that Gwyneth and Samuel were my taste, and they were able to get the movie financed because they were in it. So I could have all the actors I wanted. It's very rare to have good actors and actors who can get a movie financed. Usually their names are not on both lists. Do you know what I mean? The wonderful thing now is that due to the success of Boogie Nights, I can keep putting my favorite actors in movies and don't have to worry so much about star power.

Tom Cruise

“I’ve gotten to work with all the character actors I want to work with, but the biggest star actor I want to work with is Tom Cruise. I fuckin' love him. He's the man. I love Tom Cruise. I mean I'm not going to pay him $20 million, but he's a great actor. Top Gun sucked but I loved him in Color of Money, I loved him in Jerry Maguire. I think that is such a good performance. It really reminds me of a Jimmy Stewart performance. It's really simple and he's very good. Funny, charming, lost and confused. He's really good at confused. I actually find him very similar to John Reilly in a very twisted way.

John C. Reilly

“There’s a lot of what he’s really like in John Reilly performances in my movies just because I know him so well. We’re best friends.”

Porn Director Paul Thomas

They fucked me up. I don't know if this is right. I have personal friends who know Paul Thomas who is a porn star and he never went by Paul Thomas Anderson, that's not his name.

Mark Wahlberg

“When I first met Mark I sat down with him. I was excited to meet him because I’d seen Basketball Diaries. ‘Let’s hope he’s a good guy because I know he’s a good actor and can do this part.’ And he’d only read thirty pages of the script. I thought what the fuck is this. Who is this jackass? ‘Why have you only read thirty pages?’ And he said ‘Cause I love it. I just wanted to make sure that you wanted me as an actor and not because I’m the guy who will get into his underwear from the Calvin Klein stuff.’ I was like ‘I don’t give a shit about all the Calvin Klein stuff. I’m interested in you as an actor, so go finish reading the fucking script and come back.’ He loved it so much he didn’t want to be disappointed to get to the end of it and love it even more and find out that I just wanted the underwear guy. So I said ‘I don’t want the underwear guy, go finish reading it and come back and we’ll talk.’ And he said ‘I love it and I want to be in it. He called me PTA and I call him Marky. After this film he asks for $2 million a film, I can call him whatever the fuck I like, motherfucker.”

Ron Jeremy

Ron Jeremy never came to the set. He was just one of the first people that I met in the porn industry. He's just such a pain in the ass and such a fuckin' pest that I had to give him a credit otherwise he would have never left me alone. Mark met him once and Ron took him to a porn set. Ron Jeremy just wanted him to listen to his rap records. Mark was like 'Get your fuckin' rap record away from me.''

The San Fernando Valley

“I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, which is the capital of porn production in the middle of a suburb of LA. It was always around me and I was always interested in it. Film shoots would be happening around me and I was interested. I would see the outside of the houses where I knew it was going on because of the people coming in and out. I could put 2 and 2 together. It’s an industrial warehouse with no signs on it and you’d see people coming in and out. There’s no sign on the door. I think something’s going on. On top of that I had a fascination with pornography, half-sociological, half-horny young man. Just like giggly camp value. But also the filmmaking side. In the same way some people get excited about 50’s sci-fi B movies, the same kind of excitement I get from 70’s porno films. Looking at what they wanted to be, what they tried to be which was artistic. Yeah sure, a sex film but also with form of storytelling merit, and I thought it was romantic. It’s ironic that it was taken away by the video revolution.”

Seventies Porn
“I think it could have evolved into something because it was snuffed out before it had a chance to breathe. In the 70’s you had porn filmmakers trying to inject plot, story and1 characters. These were people trying to attach something to what was basically fuck films. At the same time you had mainstream Hollywood which was being so subversive, so cutting edge and so cool during the Seventies. So it was like two locomotives that were coming at each other. Porn films trying to be legitimate but still catering to their market, and legitimate films that were getting more towards Clockwork Orange and Midnight Cowboy. Momentarily it seemed like they were going to collide and straight, legitimate films would have collided with porn and it would have resulted in some really interesting stuff. Porn got derailed by video and the wonderful Hollywood stuff in the Seventies got derailed by Star Wars.”

Old Movies

“I get into 30’s and 40’s films just because I can’t do it, so I just love watching little traditional plots, you know what I mean. Because I’m so bad at it, I just love watching good stories.”
Boogie Nights: The long and short of it
No, really, it was THIS long! - "Yeah somebody said my movies are too long and I cut their fucking throat. No, New Line asked me once or twice whether it has to be this long and I said 'Yes, shut up.' It is what it is. It's long but if it was a minute shorter you'd say it was too short and if it was a minute longer you'd say it was too long." I had a three hour cut, so I cut out about thirty minutes out of it.

Dirk's Tunes

I wrote Feel the Heat. Yeah. I'm not giving up the rights to that. John Reilly wrote the music. We were very proud of that. And Mark did a very good job of singing. "You Got The Touch" I actually discovered when I was 16 or 17 years old on a soundtrack to The Transformers animated movie. I saw this in a 99 cents bin and thought this looks ridiculous, I gotta buy this. The original "You Got The Touch" was on it. So we covered it, fucked it up a bit and made it sound more like a demo. We paid through the nose for that song, not. It was great fun doing the cover. I said to Michael Penn who did the score and said ‘Listen to this song, now do the cover of it as if it’s a porn star doing a demo.’”

Shooting sex scenes

I wasn't embarrassed, I was nervous. The first scene we shot was when Heather Graham takes her clothes, gets on top of Dirk and says I never take my skates off. It was the first sex scene she'd ever done and it was the first sex scene I'd ever shot. I was more nervous than her and I was driving her crazy because I was looking out for her. After four or five takes I just snapped out of it and said 'Well, I can't do this. I have to be the director. There's something wrong with the shot but I'm too nervous talking to Heather, I'm too boyish because I'm staring at her naked body. I have to get over this because I'm not doing my job. We did. And I got to give her directions. 'Heather, you gotta kiss him like a porn star, you're kissing him too nice. Be nasty.' You get into the groove and it becomes like any other scene.

Censorship Blues

“We had a few hassles with the MPAA, which is the rating board of America. We didn’t have to lose much. At the time it was hellish to go through and I thought it was cutting up my baby. But then I stepped back and thought ‘Well this isn’t so bad. All we’re losing is a couple of frames of Mark’s ass.’ It’s not fucking up the story or losing the rhythm. About 85% of the script is in the film.”

Hard Eight

"The original title for my first film was Sydney. They thought it was a movie about Australia. I just said fuck off, you're just a fuckin' TV movie [referring to the release title Hard Eight]. It was released in America, got great reviews and nobody went and saw it."

Listen to What the Man Said…

“This has been huge. I knew it was a good movie but I didn’t think this and LA Confidential would be the best reviewed movies of the year. It made it into over 200 critics’ top ten lists. I knew it was good, but didn’t know it was that good.”

Burt and Warren

I sent Burt the script. Then I saw Striptease and it nearly made me not cast him. But I sent him the script, I met him and he said it's great, let's go. Then Warren Beatty called me up on the phone and wanted to talk. I was like 'you're wrong for this movie', but then a day later I was mesmerized by Warren and was like 'you're right for this movie, you must be in my movie' and he was like 'I don't want to be in your movie'.

A Titanic Decision

"Leonardo DiCaprio was my first choice for Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights. I met Leo and ultimately he decided to do Titanic and that has worked out real well for him. Leo is still great, a good guy and a friend of mine. Mark is great and better than Leo would have been. Leo is better than Mark would have been in Titanic. So everybody ended up doing the right thing and I'm just happy that Mark is in it."

The Robert Altman Influence

“Who? Who? Never heard of him. Nashville never heard of it. Never even seen it. I wouldn’t know it if it hit me….I know every frame of that movie, it’s one of my favourite movies and certainly the ensemble storytelling influenced Boogie Nights. It’s funny because as much as I love Nashville it wasn’t like I set out originally to tell a Nashville-like story. Because that’s not the original Dirk Diggler story which was just about the one guy. But what happened was I fell in love with so many actors that stories multiplied and the more stories I heard about pornography I kept seeing this as a sign that I needed to use the Nashville model. I used three movies as templates and structure for my script. Goodfellas, Nashville, and Battle of Algiers. I love the idea of an ensemble movie, working on all cylinders at all times because it gets so many things going and it’s a challenge balancing all that.”    


“The opening scene is not even remotely a homage to Goodfellas. There are a million other scenes that are homages but the opening scene has nothing to do with Goodfellas. I don't understand where people get it into their head that it is. I guess because it’s a nightclub and a long shot. But my inspiration for that shot came from Absolute Beginners, very glamorous. But the Scorsese influence came from the storytelling. Goodfellas is a movie about gangsters that somehow managed to become relatable an audience. So how do you tell a story to make these murderers, thieves and drug dealers acceptable to an audience. There’s something to be learned here because I’m making a movie about porno people who people don’t usually want to know anything about, so how do I tell a story about them to make them relatable.”

Loving Your Characters

“The balance was achieved because I knew I would not laugh too much at them because I had my friends playing the characters and I’m going to take care of the characters like I take care of my friends. When you hang out with your friends you laugh with them and you laugh at them, so I knew it was going to be okay. I love to fuck with Reilly as much as I love to protect him, so I knew I had the greatest defense mechanism built in already in terms of balancing that aspect of the story. There is an element of parody and I laugh as much at these people as I do with them. Ultimately I love them, so I know it’s going to be okay. So I don’t have to work on that aspect of the story, it just built in.”

What's Next?

You’ll just have to see (motioning towards his sleeves). I have a few tricks up my sleeve.”

Saturday, February 28, 1998

Interview: "20 Questions"

Playboy Magazine, Written By David Rensin
February ??, 1998

For 27-year-old director Paul Thomas Anderson, the thrilled critical response to his film Boogie Nights - the story of an innocent young man whose foot-long love gland transforms him into a porn star of the late Seventies and early Eighties - must make the sophomore director feel like he's similarly endowed. The film is based on a short Anderson made when he was 17, called The Dirk Diggler Story. Ten years later, its screen history. In the interim Anderson made another short, Cigarettes and Coffee that got him into the Sundance Institute's Filmmaker's Workshop and that led to his first feature, Hard Eight. Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Gwyneth Paltrow, it was retitled Hard Eight and quickly faded away. We asked Contributing Editor David Rensin to talk with Anderson as Boogie Nights went into wide release. Rensin says, "We met at a popular Valley deli, where the waitresses knew and adored Anderson. He sat down, rummaged into his huge briefcase for his glasses, and with a smile announced, "Let me wash my hands before I begin the interview." I think that he also washed them afterward.

1. You wait until the end of Boogie Nights to show Dirk Diggler's 13-inch cock. Did you ever think of revealing the goods sooner?

In the earliest assembly of the movie, we showed it in his first sex scene. At the time, I wasn't sure if it was to get it out of the way. But when I watched the film, I realized it had to be saved for the end. Metaphorically, it's the come shot. It's everything you could hope for from a movie ending. David Mamet once said, "The last five seconds separates the men from the boys." I took that quote to heart and ran with it.

Friday, February 27, 1998

Interview: "Do The Hustle"

Total Film Magazine UK, Written By Cam Winstanley
February ??, 1998

He's arrived. Boogie Nights has catapulted an ex-teen star onto Hollywood's hot list, showcasing his turn as a thrusting young trouser serpent called Eddie, sucked into the world of '70s porn. Director Paul Thomas Anderson tells how he made a funny, honest mainstream patch of the film biz.

Dog-eared stroke mags stuffed under mattresses. Fuzzy videotapes featuring fat Germans energetically servicing busty farmgirl types ("Ja, ja, ja! Ich kommen!") Men with scruffy moustaches peering around rickety doors, enquiring, "Mind if I join in?" Well-thumbed pocket-sized magazines containing 'all genuine' letters that start with phrases like "I'd always dreamt about sex with identical twins, but never imagined that it could happen to me."

Pornography is something that men are usually cagey and embarrassed about. They enjoy it, for the most part, and like to consume as large an acreage of fleshy skin tones as they can, but one with provison - no one else really knows about it. Not friends, not lovers, and certainly not parents.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson stands alone in that he's not afraid to proclaim his fascination with porn - in a two-and-a-half hour movie. It follows the life of teenage dishwasher Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) as he becomes porn megastar Dirk Diggler in a series of flicks directed by old time sleaze-merchant Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), and is as fascinating and funny as it is horrifying. Hold your head up high, and share your sins, Mr Anderson...

We heard you'd seen your first porn flick at the age of nine. How?

Wednesday, February 25, 1998

Interview: "Chicks...Dicks And Porno Flicks"

Uncut Magazine UK, Written By Simon Lewis
February ??, 1998

Welcome to the world of Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of Boogie Nights, the first essential film of 1998. Simon Lewis is the man in the mac with the Kleenex

Paul Thomas Anderson is Hollywood’s first true Generation X auteur. Scrawny, plaid-shirted and unkempt, son of a voice-over artist, a grade-school drop-out who enrolled at university but never attended, he should have ended up making lo-fi, Kevin Smith-style flicks. Instead, after an apprenticeship as a production assistant on various TV shows, the Sundance Filmmaker’s Workshop gave him the backing to produce last year’s Hard Eight, a hard-boiled redemption tale of gamblers starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Samuel L. Jackson that you probably won’t have seen (he was, he says, stiffed by the distributors). Its maturity and technical bravado won him studio backing he needed to make Boogie Nights, this year’s surprise Oscar contender and an epic journey through the myths of the Seventies’ porn industry. Gathering a funky ensemble cast including Mark Wahlberg, Heather Graham (last seen in Swingers), Julianne Moore and a wonderfully bemused William H. Macy, his biggest coup is a heartwarming, career-reviving performance from Burt Reynolds as patriarchal pornographer Jack Horner.

Simon Lewis: You shot instantly from obscurity to Oscar-level plaudits, and you’re still only 27. How the hell did you get so good so young?

Monday, February 23, 1998

Interview: "Boogie Fever"

Boogie Fever, Written By Greg King
February ??, 1998

Greg King gets down with Paul Thomas Anderson, the director of Boogie Nights.

"I was just obsessed with movies, and I've done everything in my life just guiding towards that." Ever since he saw Rocky twenty years ago, 26 year old film director Paul Thomas Anderson has wanted to make movies. He admires the work of the late John Sturges, but he also loves the films of contemporary directors like Jonathan Demme, Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese.

Anderson began working as a production assistant on television movies, videos and game shows and several independent movies before moving into writing and directing his own films. In 1992 he wrote a short film called Cigarettes And Coffee, borrowing a camera to shoot it. The film appeared at Sundance in 1993, and Anderson was later to develop it into a full length feature. The result was Hard Eight, a low key morality play about a veteran gambler (Philip Baker Hall) who seeks redemption for his past sins by teaching a down and out gambler (John C Reilly) some of the tricks of his trade. The film also starred Gwyneth Paltrow as a down and out hooker and Samuel L Jackson as an enforcer. Although described as a cross between Pulp Fiction and Leaving Las Vegas by some American critics, this down beat and ultimately flawed crime thriller disappeared straight onto video in this country.

Sunday, February 22, 1998

Interview: "Naked Ambition"

Empire Magazine, Written By Jeff Dawson
February ?? 1998

Boogie Nights director Paul Thomas Anderson on how he became obsessed with porn......

"The basic bones of the story are the Busby Berkeley musical, A Star is Born," says Paul Thomas Anderson, 27-year old writer-director of Boogie Nights. "It's any of the backstage musicals, the kid with the dream."

It's probably not quite what Old Bubsy had in mind, but Anderson is right, for if one is to strip down his movie to its 100 per cent Rayon undies, it is essentially that - new kid on the block shows talent, is seduced by an industry that soon becomes a surrogate for his family, the rise necessitating the paradox of fall. Though here there is certainly no ingénue chorus girl waiting for her big break. Nope, the star-in-question's talent is fairly singular.

Anderson chuckles: "It's about a guy with a big dick."

Friday, February 13, 1998

Interview: The Geek Who Made Art From Porn

Daily Mail & Guardian
February 13th, 1998

At 27, Paul Thomas Anderson is winning plaudits with Boogie Nights, about the early days of blue movies. Jonathan Romney meets the man who has made Burt Reynolds hip again

Hollywood in the late Nineties is more than ever committed to child's play, to effects-laden nursery diversions designed to make grown-up money. No wonder critics and public respond so eagerly when faced with genuine adult cinema. It just happens, in the case of America's latest maverick hit, Boogie Nights, that the subject really is adult cinema, in the more specialised sense of the term - Paul Thomas Anderson's film is set in the blue-movie underworld of late seventies Los Angeles.

Thursday, February 05, 1998

Interview: Cinemattractions Q&A With Paul Thomas Anderson

Cinemattractions, Written By Matt Grainger
February ?? 1998

Matt Grainger: You must be getting used to hearing how good Boogie Nights is...

PTA: I never get used to hearing that - tell me more!

MG: Was this your baby, a spec script?

PTA: Yeah, it was something that I wrote originally when I was about seventeen years old and something that I've had in my head and around for like ten years. Not that I was trying to get it made that whole time - it was about two and a half years ago and the first company that saw it was the first company that said yes.

Sunday, February 01, 1998

Interview: "Hanging Around With Director Paul Thomas Anderson"

Boogie Nights Articles & Interviews
Addicted To Noise - By Cynthia Fuchs
February ?? 1998

"Hanging around with director Paul Thomas Anderson"
Addicted to Noise - By Cynthia Fuchs
Paul Thomas Anderson appreciates porn. He not only watches it; he's also studied and contemplated it, and it shows. Anderson's randy, sprawling film Boogie Nights -- nominated for three major Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay -- explores porn as a genre, a philosophy, a business, a cultural metaphor and an art form.

In person, Anderson, director and writer of Boogie Nights, is an endearingly regular 27-year-old. A lanky, bespectacled white guy with tousled, brownish hair, he smokes, drinks coffee and is well-versed on all manners of movies. He is also visibly tired, having undergone interviews all day after attending a big Manhattan party the previous night. But he's certainly willing to talk about his breakthrough movie -- only his second feature film -- and its particular milieu.

Monday, January 26, 1998

Interview: "Lights, Cameras, Oscar"

January 26th, 1998

It's January. Have you written your acceptance speech yet? Newsweek's David Ansen and Corie Brown ask some of Hollywood's hottest directors to vent about studios, statuettes and Titanic.

It is awards season in Hollywood, and the only talk is of Oscars. Shall we listen in? Newsweek invited four of 1997's most celebrated directors to a round-table discussion at Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. Two of the filmmakers seem sure to get Best Director nominations; one's a long shot and the other doesn't have a chance in hell. Still, from the moment they met they all bonded marvelously. Curtis Hanson, who directed "L.A. Confidential"; Gus Van Sant, who made "Good Will Hunting," and Paul Thomas Anderson, of "Boogie Nights" fame, all exchanged apparently heartfelt compliments. Barry Sonnenfeld, who gave us "Men in Black," arrived enthusing about the movie he'd just seen, "Wag the Dog." The directors posed for pictures, dissing difficult actors and sleazy agents. ("They're just guys who sleep with hookers--it's disgusting," one said about a particular agency.) And then they sat down for the interview.

James Brooks, who directed the highly nominatable "As Good As It Gets," couldn't make it to Hotel Bel-Air, but he called in from Australia to say that one of the highlights of awards season is finally meeting some of his fellow directors. "You're herded into the same parties, you go to the same events," he said. "You get to know each other for the first time." He missed quite an afternoon in L.A. Excerpts:

Does "Titanic" change anything in Hollywood? It cost $200 million, and it's a huge hit.

Monday, January 19, 1998

Interview: "Sight And Sound Q&A"

Sight & Sound Magazine, Written By Gavin Smith
January ??, 1998

Paul Thomas Anderson talks to Gavin Smith about porno fandom and the road to redemption.

One of the things that's interesting about Boogie Nights is its tone shifts, for instance between dramatic and comic/parodic.

There are two answers to that. First, two of my favorite movies are F.W. Murnau's Sunrise and Jonathan Demme's Something Wild, what I call gearshift movies, that can change tones [snaps fingers] like that. I like to see that in movies because that's what real life is like, and it's also good storytelling. And second, this relates to how I came to this story. The first version was a short film I made called The Dirk Diggler Story, when I was 17. That has some of the same textures, but it's much funnier. It's my point of view as a 17-year-old, and what was funny to me then was the titles. As a mass audience, we're amused and turned on by porn titles - Ordinary Peepholes, The Sperminator, Edward Penishands - but then this is quickly not funny. There was something in that short film that was darkly comic, but there were a lot of smartass moments. Over the course of ten years, just by getting older and slightly sick of it all, that's where more of the sadness and drama comes into it. I just sat there and lived with and it was just not fucking funny anymore.

But isn't the coda a fantasy redemptive happy ending?

Sunday, January 11, 1998

Interview: "A Natural Porn Director"

Independent On Sunday, Written By Paul Mungo
January 11th, 1998

When Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights was shown at the Toronto film festival last year, it was perhaps inevitable that the young American director would be hailed as the "new Quentin Tarantino". New Quentin

Tarantinos have been popping up fairly regularly in the past few years: the qualifications are a childhood spent in darkened cinemas, youth, and at least one ambitious, quirky film. If the movie features a faded Seventies star on the way back up, so much the better.

Anderson's faded Seventies star is Burt Reynolds, who plays sleaze king Jack Horner in Boogie Nights. And the film, set in the subculture of the hard-porn industry in Los Angeles in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was described by one American critic as "the most sensational act of moviemaking so far this year". It was directed by Anderson when he was just 26.

Anderson is 27 now. Despite the light straggle of beard on his chin, he seems younger. He is dressed mall-style, his shirt hanging out over his trousers, and is prone to American teenage expressions like "jeez". He cheerfully describes himself as "a standard-template film geek" who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles, with three sisters, his mom and dad. It was, he says, "normal suburbia - except that it's the capital of film production". His only real connection with the entertainment business was through his father, who did voiceovers for TV.

Friday, January 09, 1998

Interview: The Guardian

PTA Interview: The Guardian
January ??, 1998

With all its razzle-dazzle and surface kitsch, Anderson's multi-stranded story of the fuck-film subculture and its murky, neo-Runyon denizens - names like Dirk Diggler, Jack Horner, Amber Waves - could have been pure cartoon. But Anderson knows their world too well for that, having been raised in the San Fernando Valley, LA's capital of porn production.

"It was always there," he remembers. "Bunker-type warehouses with no sign on them near my high school. You'd see people coming in and out and you knew there was something going on. I guess that speaks to anyone's effort to get back to their childhood - what was that shit I was witnessing when I was 11 years old?" The young Anderson knew perfectly well what was going on: he had his first taste of porn aged nine, when he sneaked a look at his father's video of a popular item called The Opening Of Misty Beethoven. He admits he is too fascinated with the genre to have much journalistic detachment. "I've been into it as a consumer, but not as some freak who's masturbating his life away. Probably more of a fascination with the film-making of it than anything else." Boogie Nights has been criticised for romanticising its subject matter - the Modern Review has already attacked it as "Porn Kitsch" - but the film derives its considerable ambivalence from its portrayal of a lost hedonist utopia that crumbles in an apocalyptic final act. Anderson's take on porn is, he admits, equivocal.

Saturday, January 03, 1998

Interview: "Blame It On The Boogie Man"

Telegraph Magazine, Written By Ben Thompson
January 3rd, 1998

Can a film about a well-endowed porn star seriously be a hymn to the idea of family ? Paul Thomas Anderson thinks so. Ben Thompson talks to the director.

The cinema has created some unlikely heroes in its time, but few more unlikely than Eddie Adams. Adams, aka 'Dirk Diggler', the imaginary Seventies porn-star whose rise and fall is the focus of Boogie Nights, is a suburban cowboy blessed by nature with a mighty penile appendage. Rejected by his mother, he is plucked from obscurity by benevolent pornographer Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds, who apparently disliked the film so much that he fired his agent for ever signing him up to appear in it) and forms a new and strange set of family attachments within a colourful company of 'adult' film-makers.

As well as the marathon feats of sexual endurance which become his bread and butter, and the copious drug consumption which is the closest the porn world gets to jam, Eddie's odyssey carries him through a dimly remembered Seventies netherworld of great music and terrible fashion. This Day-glo backdrop sustains Boogie Nights through its marathon two-and-quarter-hour running time, and much innocent retrospective fun is had at the expense of such indulgences as the eight-track cartridge player. But the film is no mere kitsch-fest - it's the foreground that commands the real attention.

Although many commentators will doubtless see Boogie Nights as another staging post in the cinema's long descent into terminal decadence, it is actually a rather heart-warming piece of work. People always say that about films that allow us a voyeuristic glimpse into a world normally deemed to be forbidden, but in this case it's true. The film's writer-director, 26-year-old wunderkind Paul Thomas Anderson, happily admits to the influence of seamy porn films such as The Opening of Misty Beethoven on his adolescent development, and yet Boogie Nights, which is proving a surprise hit in America, is no laddish celebration. In fact, it's an elegiac history of considerable moral complexity, upon which Anderson turns the observant and playful eye of the child he still was when the Seventies ended.

Thursday, January 01, 1998

Interview: "From Here To Houdini's House"

Sundance Online, Written By Saida Shepard
Date Unknown

The Emerging Filmmaker Conversations with Sundance Lab Fellows Paul Thomas Anderson

In January of 1993, Paul Thomas Anderson’s first film, a short called Cigarettes and Coffee, screened at the Sundance Film Festival. To make the film, Anderson pooled friends, acquaintances, and resources from his years as a production assistant. Cigarettes and Coffee inspired Anderson’s feature film script, Sydney, which he brought to the 1993 Filmmakers Lab. At the Lab, Anderson took portions of Sydney through a dress-rehearsal process, working with actors, workshopping his script, and learning about film industry politics. Sydney, later renamed Hard Eight, initiated Anderson into the challenge of retaining directorial control amid the promises and pitfalls of The Business.

Anderson’s second feature, Boogie Nights, documents the makeshift family of a porn production empire from the excesses of the 1970s into the changing climate of the 1980s. At twenty-seven, Paul Thomas Anderson has been compared to Robert Altman for his ensemble work, and to Martin Scorsese for his anthropological detail. In this interview, part of a series with Lab alumni, Anderson talks about his start as a director, the lessons he’s learned from making two features, and his plans to make many more: “Either like thirty, if I continue to smoke; maybe forty if I quit.”