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Originally published in the Spring 2011 issue. Beginners is nominated for Best Feature and Best Ensemble.

“There are no classes in life for beginners; right away you are always asked to deal with what is most difficult.”–Rainer Maria Rilke

About the three characters in Mike Mills’s altogether winning second feature — Oliver, a sensitive yet romantically challenged graphic designer in his mid-30s (Ewan McGregor); Anna, a beautiful, single French actress (Melanie Laurent); and the designer’s father, Hal, a retired museum director and widower in his 70s, who has just come out of the closet (Christopher Plummer) — the film’s title, Beginners, says it all. These are not young people or people inexperienced with relationships, but they are novices — people learning to live, and to love, in new ways.

The film is also a tale of reinvention — a theme, of course, that is a staple of not only American cinema but the mythology of America itself. F. Scott Fitzgerald may have once said, “There are no second acts in American lives,” but the idea that there is always a second chance, that it is never too late, propels everything from romantic fiction to business self-help books to much film drama. What makes Beginners honest and fresh, however, is the way Mills in his filmmaking seems to be undertaking a similar journey as his characters. Skipping back and forth through time, digressing on myriad  subjects in brief documentary passages, making each of the film’s stories — the tale of Oliver’s relationship with Anna, and Oliver’s with his dying father — the counterpoint to the other, Mills has made a film that tackles the Big Issues in a light-on-its-feet, appealingly unsentimental way. One can find within it elements of the French New Wave and classic Woody Allen (Annie Hall, in particular), but the film’s details — and its love for its details — situate it among the best of recent American independent cinema.

Throughout all of Mills’s work is a fascination with connections: the private histories and cultural influences that shape identity and behavior. The California-born director began his career as a graphic designer, quickly making a name for himself with album covers for the Beastie Boys, Beck and Sonic Youth, among others. Music videos followed, including clips for Air, who even named a song after him. His documentary work includes 2001’s Paperboys, a short doc on Minnesota newspaper delivery boys, and, more recently, Does Your Soul Have a Cold?, a documentary on the use of antidepressants in Japan. His first feature was 2005’s Thumbsucker, based on Walter Kirn’s novel.

We were very happy when fellow director Gus Van Sant, whose latest film, Restless, is forthcoming from Sony Pictures Classics, agreed to interview Mills. Here they speak about art school, family history, fathers, the struggle to keep filmmaking small and the sentimental impulse in modern cinema.

Beginners opens in June through Focus Features.

Mike Mills

(Gus Van Sant sets up the mic) Is that stereo multidirectional?

I guess it’s what you’d call MS, which we actually shoot with. MS stereo. Do you use stereo sound?

I’m not sure what we did [on Beginners], to be honest.

On Gerry we had done these really long takes, so when we did Elephant, our sound mixer, Leslie Shatz, expected us to do long takes and told the sound guy, “Why don’t we use a stereo mic?” Normally stereo can be hard because of cutting back and forth, the phasing…

I don’t think we used that. I like miking everybody with lavs and trying to do the Altman thing, asking everybody to chatter. I’m surprised how that still blows everybody’s minds. Like if you want five mics open out there, people are like, “whaaa!”

And you can do it now because there are a lot of tracks on those recorders.

Do you know our sound guy, Susumu [Tokunow]? He’s really good, he’s got this tiny kit, and he’s really meticulous. He’s got a million things, but he’s very happy being small. He’s not a person who measures a job by the amount of gear he can have. I kept telling [the actors], “Quieter. Don’t project.” Everyone ended up whispering and mumbling, and he laved everybody. He was cool with it. But so many people, as soon as you get a little bit off the road, they get scared pretty fast, and they complain the whole way.

Like who? The actors or the executive types?

Executives definitely. But also the d.p., the sound guy, everybody. They’re all worried! You have to keep [saying], “Turn off those lights! Turn off that one. Turn off that one. Do not worry about it. It will be good.” The crew, my producers and my line producer — everybody’s on my side, so it’s not like a fight — but I just want to walk in the bookstore [and say], “I don’t want any art department. I don’t want any lights. I don’t want anything!” [Crews] are just used to the director getting [to the location] and wanting whatever the heck it is. It’s really funny how much I have to keep having that argument throughout my career. Even while doing an ad, I have to keep saying, “I’m just going to walk in there…”

Because when you first scout [a location], it looks good.

It looks gorgeous.

In my previous experiences, they take everything out and put all this new stuff in.  

I hate that.

It’s like, “what happened?”

Yeah. There’s a layer to peoples’ lives, a layering of objects and stuff that’s impossible to replicate. And that’s the thing that you want. I do come a little bit more from documentary. It’s about being receptive rather than going in and stamping everything. Or being in a little room where you only have one window and letting that get you to a more interesting place than if you had built everything. But people just don’t want to believe the director when the director says that. I have to say, your film [Last Days] really helped me. Because I could say to people, “Look! Gus and Harris Savides. There’s nothing on that camera. There’s no matte box. There’s just a doorway dolly. There’s nothing!” You’ve been a sort of funny part of this film, in an odd way.

That’s cool. I did a little film before Last Days, and I didn’t know that the art director was adding stuff. Later I found out and I was like… [sighs]. Because [the set dressings] weren’t that good. They were odd. But then I realized it was because they were put there by us. I’m really into small crews, and I can never get them. A project that I’m working on now, I know that I’m not going to get a small crew unless I actually go in there and make sure. It’s really hard to do. You can show them pictures of Bergman shooting, and there are like six people. And if he does it that way, why can’t we do it that way?  

And we have so much more reason to do it that way. We have a much lighter world. I try really hard to be “two and two” — two grips and two gaffers. And that was such a fight. You come across sounding like you’re wild, which is unfortunate because it’s actually really production-friendly. But after the first week everyone was totally on board and got it and saw that it could be pretty. It’s not a recipe for making something ugly. I do docs like that too — there are like four people, and everybody ends up being multidisciplinary. It’s just a more fun working environment. I feel like everybody is more alive. It’s real unfortunate, the kind of union-L.A. mind-set. There are people who can work outside of that, but you have to develop those relationships.

Why do you still do ads?

Well, personally it’s a great deal. Socially, in the big picture, it’s a much more complicated, mixed, corrupt deal. But personally, I get to practice being a director. It’s been five years between my movies, and I love practicing what I like to do. I love shooting. I love being on set. If I didn’t do that, I’d go insane. I wouldn’t be a director. After my dad passed away I did stop. I was a co-founder of The Directors Bureau with Roman [Coppola]. It was a company we built up together, and I just quit. Right when my dad died I was like, “Only do what you want to do. Only do what’s important. Only do what’s good for the world.” So I quit for two years. I went back to make money but also because I was dying to get on set. I work with most of my friends, the people at The Directors Bureau, and it’s not like I’m creatively shoved up the wrong tree when I direct ads. They’re pretty creatively great. I get to try things. I learned how to shoot without lights on ads, of all places. I did a feature documentary called Does Your Soul Have a Cold? about people in Japan taking antidepressants. If I do two ads a year, I can do that documentary and never worry about getting paid. Beginners, I didn’t get paid. I put all the money back into the movie. It’s actually quite a fortunate, amazing deal. I’m only shooting four to eight days a year, and I can live happily. So for me personally, it’s fine, but for me, as a part of capitalism, it’s a much more complicated, uncool situation.

Being part of corporations?

I actually don’t believe in ads. I don’t believe that my Nike ad made people buy shoes. I never watch an ad that makes me want to buy something. But I do believe I’m part of the machinery that makes the cruelty of capitalism look cool and hip and slick, and not cruel. And that keeps me up. But in our messy, complicated lives, this is the best solution I’ve found so far. I have friends who are artists. If you’re an artist and you have a mortgage and you’re making more than 10 grand per painting, you’re in the same boat I am when I’m making a Nike ad.

Well, the only people buying it are the people who are in the other world.

It’s the same money, essentially. Or, the money is coming from the same process that we’re all having a problem with.

I just had my first experience as a painter.

Right, the Gagosian thing?


Aaron Rose was saying it was great. I haven’t seen it yet, if it’s still there.

It’s still there for a couple more weeks. I got sort of dragged into it because of James Franco. I was a painter originally. I worked my way into film in college, and I always thought, what would have happened if I had kept with it? So at the late age of 58 I had my first show.

That’s great! I would like to do that.

As I get older…

You’ve got to change it all up. You’ve got to have a new thing.

I don’t know if I can actually continue. It can be just a one-time thing. Where did you study?

At Cooper Union. I started in ’84 and left in ’90. I studied with Hans Haacke mostly. He’s a conceptual artist, a political artist. He’s German and was born in the ’30s. He does amazing stuff. It started off as very process-oriented and conceptual. He was friends with Joseph Beuys and all those Fluxus guys in the ’60s. And then [his work] turned more political. You could do anything in his classes. I remember one guy came in and spilled a liter of Coke on the floor. It was all about the idea and how you executed it. It was very simple. Didactic, in a way, but I loved that.

But extreme at the same time.

Extreme in a very German way.

The extreme I’m thinking of is the one that’s sort of orderly but also fantastic.  

Hans is that very progressive, very enlightened, intellectual German who is almost like a Canadian. I feel like progressive Germans and progressive Canadians are very similar. They’re very kind, very open, very curious. So for me to be doing ads, I’m trained in how evil it is. My friends and I, we really didn’t want to get involved in the gallery world because it was such a rarefied, exclusive thing. You had to be indoctrinated in so many different texts to be able to decipher so much of the art. I loved [that process], but as far as expressing my energy as a human being in life it felt a little limiting. A lot of us then got into graphic design and sort of embraced mass media, or anything that wasn’t art. We were all seeking another way. I became a graphic designer, and I really loved doing record covers and having my posters on Broadway. I thought, “I’m not in the art thing.” But my father was a museum director, and I went to a fancy art school, so it’s kind of a very privileged take on not wanting to be in the art world. And then when the film thing became more possible… For me it was watching Errol Morris’s The Thin Blue Line and early Jarmusch films. It was like, “I can do that… maybe!” And then I got into doing music videos.

[laughs] Jarmusch and Errol Morris are so huge for many people. For me too. They’re like the pinnacle of outside-the-system…

I didn’t even know what the system was. With Jarmusch, I thought, “Oh, I’m not cathartically wrapped up in this movie. I’m actually watching it a little bit more.” And with Errol Morris, it was the graphic designer in me saying, “Wow, it’s like a visual argument.” Like in The Thin Blue Line, the milk shakes flying through the air and the shots of the ends of the car — that’s actually in Beginners. That diagrammatic way of looking. And it was within this public, more entertainment context, which my fancy little art school training got me to covet. So that’s weirdly how I got here. Even doing ads felt interestingly corrupt. Interestingly wrong.

And what year was that?

I first started doing ads when I was 30 or 31. And I’m 45. So 15 years ago.

Wow. So you’ve gone through a whole other thing before you did your first ad.

Yeah. It took me a while. But art school taught me that you can do anything. It’s about your ideas. And that’s what enabled me to be a director without going to film school.

That’s what I learned at art school too. I was at Rhode Island School of Design from ’71 to ’75, and the kids there were doing anything but traditional art. They thought landscape design could be art, rock ’n roll could be art. You saw people doing almost anything, and that was their art. That was a really amazing thing to learn.

In Hans’s class the crits were all about how well you could explain what you were trying to do. It was a strange, Socratic thing where your art was part of what was important. What was really important was your thought process and how you got there. That really enabled me to be a director. Doing record covers, you had to get on the phone and talk to a band and convince them into a perspective. And that’s essentially what directing is.

That’s cool. I have some questions I want to ask. So in the map [in your film], where it says, “We lived here…”

That’s Silverlake.

That’s where your family lived?

In that map it says we lived here, and the [1950s gay rights organization] Mattachine Society did meet here. That is where the Mattachine Society met. And the arrow is pointing to Los Feliz, where Hal [Christopher Plummer] lives on Dundy Drive — that’s Neutra’s Lovell Health house.

And that’s where you shot?  


It’s a super-beautiful house.

Yeah. Neutra is like the best gaffer in the world. There’s natural light in the house, and then he has all this recessed lighting in the ceilings with a transition arc, and it makes the light bounce in this really soft way. It was exquisite to light in there. So that map was about half-real. But we found out online that that house is where the Mattachine Society met in 1950.

Had your dad ever been to the Mattachine Society?


Is that part of his real story, the gay organization part?

In the film, he’s disconnected from any gay rights thing, especially in 1955 when he was getting married. And that’s all true. My dad was born in 1925. His first sexual yearnings were toward men. That was in the ‘30s, and he did his best to hide it. When he was 18 he got drafted into World War II. He was also pretty artistic; he was just the wrong guy in the wrong world. He had to go to the Aleutian Islands, do Morse code in a Quonset hut for four years. He knew my mom from junior high. She came from this wild, slightly bohemian family, and my dad was from this very Catholic, really intense family. My mom’s family was sort of a reprieve, a safe haven. I don’t think he was out to them, but he was certainly more comfortable with them. War happened, and they didn’t see each other for a while. They met up again in the ‘50s. They got married in 1955. My dad told my mom that he was gay, but he was seeing a psychiatrist…

In the ‘50s?


The Kinsey years.

Yeah. My dad was intellectual and fairly privileged. He was going to Reed [College in Portland] at the time. But then he had a full-on mental breakdown from trying to fit the square peg into the round hole. His psychiatrist was telling him that [homosexuality] was a mental illness. All very classic, super-’50s stuff. He was a very sweet, kind of shy guy, and you know, he wasn’t [Allen] Ginsberg. He couldn’t be out. He wasn’t that wild, until later.

Until what year?

He didn’t come out until my mom died in 1999. They were married for 44 years. He had a couple of affairs when they were married, and my mom found out and said, “Do that or be with the family.” He decided to be with the family. He said to me toward the end of his life, “I didn’t even look at a guy for 35 years,” and I kind of believed it, you know? When my mom passed away he was 75, and six months later he came out. My sister, when she was 18, had said, “You know pop’s gay.” And I was like, “What?! No, I don’t know pop’s gay!” My sisters were like 10 years older than me and they knew everything that I didn’t know. I’m kind of late on the uptake. But my dad wore a tie every day, voted for Reagan — he didn’t feel gay. But it was still a surprise when he came out. And as his character says in the film, “I don’t want to just be theoretically gay, I want to do something about it.” He was horny. I said to him, “Oh pop, that’s great. That’s awesome!” I was dealing with my mom’s death, and I was dealing with my dad, who I felt was going to die any second. All of a sudden there’s a light on inside —

Like you could see that in him?

Yeah, you could feel it.

Yeah, you can see that in the film.  

Literally, I was buying him clothes at the Gap. He had been buying his clothes at the thrift store, and he really dressed slovenly. I was just trying to make him look presentable.

Dress him up for his first night out?

Just a little bit, so he didn’t have stains on him. And then I was teaching him how to defrost food from Trader Joe’s. He was like a widower after 44 years of marriage. He was pretty devastated.

He was 75?

75. I was helping him down the street, holding his arm and then [Mills snaps his fingers] he comes out. Suddenly he’s going to the gym, wearing all black, going to French Connection on his own. He’s got a trainer. Luckily there was an awesome gay community in Santa Barbara that embraced him.

You were in Santa Barbara?

He was in Santa Barbara. I’m from Santa Barbara. But I transposed my father onto Los Angeles [for the movie]. I gave the museum a big upgrade. He went from directing the Santa Barbara Art Museum to LACMA, where we shot all the museum stuff. He went from living in a nice house in Santa Barbara to a nice Richard Neutra house.

Santa Barbara is hugely gay. Tab Hunter and Rock Hudson lived down there. And there’s a whole Santa Barbara connection with Portland.

There were so many odd things. My dad knew [artist] Herbert Bayer, who lived in Santa Barbara, from the Bauhaus [movement]. And Bayer did a chromatic gate, this very large public sculpture. My father spent 10 years getting it funded. It’s down on the beach, this huge, rainbow gate. So of course the Santa Barbara Gay Pride Association makes that sculpture their logo and puts it on all their shirts. This is 15 years before my mom died while my dad is safely in his straight self. So when he comes out, he goes to the gay pride office, and there’s his sculpture that he worked on everywhere. And he’s like, “I put that up!” So a lot of [the film research] was me just trying to figure out my dad, figure out why he and my mom got married. They’re two smart, really strong, intense people. Why did they feel they had to self-deny so much in order to join the group? And where did the gay fight come from? I wanted to figure out the history of everything so I just researched it.

So my biggest question is [reading from his paper]: “Cancer movie without manipulation.” Was there an effort not to?

Yeah. Having been through it twice with both my parents, I wanted to try to get it right. The cancer part is a relatively small part of the movie, but it’s also very crucial to the story. I’ve been to a lot of hospitals, and a lot of my stronger memories — the ones that really pierce you — are from hospital stuff. And when I say, “pierce,” I mean like remembering that in the cancer center there were cookies in the waiting room. And my dad was obsessed with the cookies. He seemed to be going to his radiation treatments for the cookies. So I made a big deal of that in the film. It’s actually like The Thin Blue Line, these repetitive shots of the cookies. I had a great intensive care nurse named Leslie, who also had cancer, and she was with us the whole time. She was in one or two of the scenes. I could ask her stuff about getting the ventilator right. It was very key to me that the machinery be [portrayed accurately]. And it was also very key not to play it up too much, not to be sentimental about it.

And why was that?


Yeah. And by sentimental I guess one would mean —

Pulling the heartstrings too hard with those images. Exploiting those images for emotional depth. As a recovering sentimentalist, like a recovering alcoholic…


I’ve always been recovering, or trying to get out of it. Out of idealizing. Like it’s my own path, from the Pulp on, I’ve been trying to get out of idealizing or sentimentalizing the world. Which is very attractive to me, because I grew up in the house of a couple that wasn’t really a couple, that in some ways had these big voids. There was this lack of love in some ways, or this lack of sentimentality. As a kid, if you’re in that void, you crave it chronically. But I think sentimentality is sort of the worst trap to really living. It puts you in a corner that is going to be unrewarding, and it hides you from what’s really happening. It keeps you blind to your own life. As a creative maker, I think people accuse me of being sentimental. I always think of Michael Haneke and Harmony Korine — they’re valuable friends to me even though I don’t really know either one of them. [Thinking of them] is my way of [trying] to stay out of that trap.

Well, sentimentality, what does it do to an audience?

Well, sentimentality is what we all want. I think it’s very attractive. It’s what most films traffic in, what fills seats. But Milan Kundera and his The Unberable Lightness of Being is a huge influence on this movie. He talks about it a lot. It’s like, You cry one tear for yourself when you see Bambi die. And you cry a second, bigger tear that we’re all crying about that. That it’s some kind of community, some kind of way to be with other people. These commonplace, cliché, emotional traps. That world is ultimately what fucked up my dad. My dad chose not to be gay because he wanted to be in the mainstream story. He wanted to be able to fit his life into the sentimentalized picture of a family man, a husband — all that stuff. And to a lesser degree I think it fucks with all of us. We’re messy, paradoxical, un-pretty monsters trying always to make ourselves simpler. And that’s what makes us depressed. Even for a privileged, blue-eyed, straight white guy like myself, that can fuck with you deeply and make you depressed in ways that I want to avoid. It’s also personal — my way of not being depressed and being mentally healthy is to avoid sentimentality as much as I can. But I say that as an alcoholic of sentimentality.

Because you really love it?

I love Bambi dying! I cry at sentimental movies all the time.

[laughs] The reason I asked that is because I made a movie, Restless, about a girl dying from cancer. We haven’t shown it yet. It was written by Jason Lew, and we’re trying to get into Cannes. Jason’s dad was a pediatric oncologist, and he has been with lots of different kids who were dying. Originally it was a play, and he and Bryce Dallas Howard, his classmate, developed it into a screenplay. The great thing about it is that this great sadness is there, but the sentimentality sadness, the easy one, the manufactured one — it didn’t have any of that kind of thing. So we made this film that we were all very happy about. We were all like, “Isn’t this great how it’s so pure and unadulterated?” And of course it is a mainstream studio movie, and when we tested it, they were like, “Hmm…”

It was cold. Is that what they said?

Well, [they wanted] the opposite of what we had actually done. We were like, “Well yeah, but you know, that’s a tall order. We’d have to rewrite it.” I mean, they want Terms of Endearment.

Terms of Endearment is a great movie.

I noticed that Terms of Endearment is about life. It’s about the relationship between mother and daughter. It’s jumping through their life together, and then the life is cut short. And because it’s about life the sentiment is intense, because she’s not going to go farther. But, I mean, it’s kind of built that way.

I was very lucky that my financiers for my movie had gone through lots of that stuff just recently. I think that’s a lot of the reason why they were attracted to my story. It’s very personal for them in a way.

There are like three stories simultaneously going on in Beginners: the past, love blossoming and the father. Is that all of it?

The past being the historical stuff, you mean?

Yeah, your past with your family. You go back into your past. You show yourself with your mom going to the opening.  

That’s not me; that’s the character. But, yeah.

But it’s close to your family?


So it’s semi-autobiographical?

I’m highly aware of how my mom’s version would be totally different, my two sisters who you don’t see, their version would be totally different, my dad’s version would be totally different. I just read some [Robert] McKee thing in Hollywood Reporter. He said, “Autobiography is fantasy. It’s coming from so much material that you just have to choose a certain line. But there are many other lines that are equally valid and all contradictory.” And I was like, “That’s totally true.” I really believe that. That’s my experience. Even with material that is fictitious, I could do four different versions. Even from my memory, I could paint four different slices of my dad, my mom, or me.

When you were writing the three actual sections of the story that are being told simultaneously, were you conscious of those three progressing at the same time and affecting each other? Or not?

Well, I started just writing these 5 x 7 cards having no idea what I was doing. It was tentatively titled, “My father has a crush on the king of Spain.” Because my father did do all this stuff with the king of Spain.

He did all this stuff with the king of Spain?

My dad was the herald of the city of Monterey, and he presented the bell to the king of Spain several times. Now looking back, King Juan Carlos was a handsome dude. My dad was just totally hot for him, obviously!

[laughs] That’s not in the movie though, right?

No. But that begins to tell you the long road that I went on. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea how it was going to be, but I did know that when my dad was passing away, we had lots of conversations about love, about relationships. I was breaking up with somebody, I was 36 or 37, finishing Thumbsucker, and he really wanted me to be in love. He really wanted me to be with somebody.

That’s in the movie.

It’s very much a continuation of that conversation. It was a fascinating conversation because it was between someone born in 1925 and someone born in 1966. There were really different historical restrictions on what each of us, a gay guy and a straight guy, could ask for, could think was possible. My dad was trying to figure out the gay world — what he could do and what he couldn’t do. As an older gay guy, what he could get, essentially. We had amazing conversations about everything from erections to… him really confronting me on my shit. On what the fuck I was doing. It was fascinating, and it went to the end. The day before he died, we were still having that conversation. So a lot of that [in the film] is just me missing him and going on. It was really cool having him in my head, continuing to talk to him. He was so alive and flexible and argumentative in a great way. We had messier, rollicking, fighting times — all with a lot of love — than we had for the first 36 years of my life. And it was great! We would yell at each other sometimes, but it was awesome that we could yell and then love in the next minute.

Yeah, I never did that with my father.

When he came out, everything just kind of broke loose. He started seeing a therapist, started being around all these younger guys who were way more emotionally flexible than he was. He was trying to catch up with them, and that was having an impact on his relationship with me. And then he was sick. He was just starting, so he didn’t want to be sick. Just like in the movie, he was denying being sick. Looking back, I’m really happy all that happened. So I knew [the movie] was about my love life and his love life.

It was the overview of your discussions.

It was an unfinished conversation. The conversation was like, “Are you…?” And then he dies. And I’m right there. It was unresolved. We were in the middle of the argument.

Oh, my God. That was a very long argument.

Seven years, on and off, talking like that. He was sick for almost a year, and that’s when it really kicked in. I broke up with someone when he was sick, and that was my thing. And not just my thing. So many people I’ve been in relationships with, so many men friends and women of my basic age, we’ve all figured out ways of being alone. We want to be with, but ultimately we’re much easier being alone. That whole “how to be with,” me and Miranda [July] still deal with all the time.

So, how about Miranda? You were together during the whole time you made this film. She’s a filmmaker. How do you share each other’s art and help each other’s art?

We help each other most by just being pals, not by being two directors. And by being the thing other than directing and art. By being cozy and fun and not talking about work. It took me four years to write that script and get it made. I think she read it once and a half. And same for me to her. When we were first going out, we saw this beautiful Agnes Varda documentary about her and Jacques Demy. He says, “We live here, and we have our kids here, and I work here and she works there, but we don’t really interface. Because making a film is a very personal thing.” Miranda and I were like, “What?! You can do that?” And that’s such a weird thing for a husband to say about his wife. “Making a film is a very personal thing.” But ultimately it’s true, and it gave us a lot of permission. We’re both pretty independent people. We’re similar, but we do things really differently for different reasons. And that’s our strength in a way. And I get asked this all the time: Miranda is in no way Anna. You’ve met Miranda enough to know that Anna is me, or a different part of me. Miranda inspired the film by me being in love with her and thinking she’s such an amazing artist. I want to impress her. I want to make something great. That was the real connection in the movie. But it’s not us. In a way it’s kind of more about all my relationships before Miranda.

That’s good. That’s all the questions I have.  

But about the past and present thing. Have you ever seen Lovefilm by Szabó? I think it’s 1970. It’s a film about a love story. It’s about a boy and girl who have known each other since childhood and have grown up through WWII and everything. And it’s all about memory. It’s all in these memory flashes. It’s the most gorgeous film about memory. I think you would really like it.

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