Dylan and I were having this seemingly endless conversation after we both saw the commentary track on that movie The Limey. I dont think either of us loved that film---we both liekd it OK---but the commentary track features Soderbergh and the screenwriter havign a heated argument about what was left in/left out. Here is a tangent that came out of Dylan and I haggling about that stuff:
I think the problem for me with critiquing other people's methods for creating art is that I don't really have a conscious method any more. I mean, I know, I do have a method but I don't ever think about it and I change it at the drop of a hat when it isn't what I feel like doing. I cut out stuff you or other people might call "the good stuff" and leave in things people call bad drawing and unrealistic writing or whatever. Like you say, doing comics is easier than film but it requires less collaboration. Stubborn people who think they have comics figured out always get mad at me.
I do collaborate with people all the time and it involves having your plans dashed and your heart broken but it can create great stuff and it makes me smarter afterwords. I sort of view each book I do as a collaborative art project where I'm kind of the Producer and the artist is the Director. The problem is that everyone is completely different, so each collaboration is totally unique.
The problem with "good stuff" is that it is totally subjective for me. I don't share taste with almost anyone I've found. Even me and you or me and Tim or me and Emily or me and Andrice or anyone...I just never feel like I agree with people on "the good stuff". Left to my own devices, I would have put out a collection of John Hankiewicz's old comics at 6x9 size or something. But I'm the producer so I listen to the person whose job it is to create the art. I have some say but only as much as the person in charge lets me. Some people want me to be in charge, and I do it only as far as I can.
I don't think I've seen any films by Catherine Breillat. Lang is one director who was famous for breaking people down. I was just reading a part in Mike Leigh interviews where it says he liked Renoir and Lang. Clouzot. I LOVE Clouzot to death but he made his wife have a nervous breakdown on film. He was a dick and he could have gotten great performances out of people without that but the art he had in mind is what he wanted. And cut them up as he wanted. I think, if I didn't like the way somebody was acting like that I'd just leave the group or try and reach a concensous. I was pretty interested in the archetypal approach that Leigh took for Happy Go Lucky, or allowed his actors to take. It sort of deals with why people are the way they are, why we become these extremes. For me, there is this yin-yang mix of control and no-control in art. I love that feeling of letting it go the way it is going and working with people but I also exercise an extreme level of control over where things go. I love how Bresson movies feel more than almost any other movie. He worked with people who were models and he was a control freak but there is this perfect sense of art I get from his movies and it is ultimately because they are his movies first and foremost.
The problem is that the writer wants to leave in everything and not allow Soderbergh to play the conventional role of director. He wants to be the director. And he should. But, when he is collaborating with somebody else in the role of director/producer they get to cut stuff out (they did talk about it though) in most Hollywood agreements. It is frustrating but it is often part of working with other people. It is an interesting situation because it is affected by the conventions of the industry and the art. Watkins makes those choices to allow people working with him to have say on what gets put to film but he will not allow the people selling the stuff to have any say. He still carries bad reviews and bad distribution resentment around like a cross nailed to his back. I mean, in a way he is right, but it is a thing where I believe that complaining about Hollywood or the film industry treats you is kind of like complaining about a Greek restaurant for serving Greek food. That is what they do, they suck. Anytime that the didn't was the result of a few individuals struggle against it, but it never changed. You don't have to be involved in it, you can make your own art. Then a lot less people will see it, but it will be the way you want. Making art isn't what our world has made it into, into making entertainments for money. It can be but that isn't art. Art doesn't entitle you to do well or get what you want out of life. Neither does making entertainment though.
I do believe in the Mike Leigh way of making art, or Watkins too, where you find like minded people and try and work with them as much as possible. It is one way around that system (sorry) but it leads to having to make compromises, they are just less odious. But when you are making a Hollywood movie about the Record Industry with big Hollywood actors, studio backing, and a Hollywood director, that is going to happen. It is something in art that burns out or transforms a lot of artists. They start doing stuff because "they have to" or getting burned out with anger about how nobody respects/understands/allows them to produce their art. I completely sympathize with those people but I also feel like, hey man, try working a day job and then doing what you want. It is actually a more human way to live, less entitlement. Just because you call yourself an artist doesn't mean you have any more rights than anyone else does, and if you engage in a shitty system, then you have all the same rights that everyone else does under that system. You can complain about it and I do feel sympathy but I also feel like telling people "that is what you get."