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“It’s the Moment of Spontaneity that We Remember”: Director Ethan Hawke | BLAZE


As you made your film during the increasingly chaotic backdrop of the last year, how did you as a filmmaker control, ignore, give in to or, conversely, perhaps creatively exploit the wild and unpredictable? What roles did chaos and order play in your films?

This is a phenomenal question. On my very first movie I learned incredibly quickly that the film loves spontaneity – it devours it. One of the things that made Marlon Brando’s career was the beauty everyone discovered in his spontaneity. Cinema is a little bit like jazz that way, where it needs a certain form or architecture. Plot often serves as the melody does in jazz. But if you stick too closely to a formula or a plan – the melody so to speak – the work becomes obvious and predictable. A certain amount of chaos everyday is a little bit of fuel for the camera and the film. Too much chaos, and you can’t control the fire and everything goes up in smoke. Not enough chaos, and you have a formulaic, boring experience.

Even in a film as meticulously planned and orchestrated as The Godfather, it’s the moment of spontaneity that we remember. When you watch Raiders of the Lost Arc you sense incredible planning and craftsmanship but simultaneously you feel that they were running with the flow and the magic that lives off of improvisation. One of the great pleasures of my experience filming Boyhood was acting with young people and putting them in leadership positions. They were always changing and always honest. With BLAZE, the centerpiece of the movie is the music. As my two central characters, I cast performers who are primarily guitar players. And I wanted them to bring the same nuance, playfulness and confidence to the acting as they bring to their music. The balance of chaos and order is the fulcrum of filmmaking.

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Sunday, January 21 at 3:00pm — PC Library]

Sundance 2018 Responses

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