American Masters recently released a two part documentary about Woody Allen (available online in U.S.), which I highly recommend if you are interested in learning about the creative process. While I loved his early movies, I didn’t follow the rest of his career closely (although his recent Midnight in Paris was excellent). Regardless, this documentary is an excellent balance of direct commentary from Allen, choice clips from his films and insight from critics, co-workers, family and others.
Here are two gems:
“There are a lot of surprises that happen between writing it, doing it, and seeing it on the screen, most surprises are negative. Most surprises are that you thought something was good, or funny, and it’s not. I’ve made just about 40 films in my life and so few of them have really been worth anything. Because it’s not easy – if it’s easy it wouldn’t be fun, it wouldn’t be valuable.”
“By the time you get the thing together it’s such a mess, and you’re flitting around the editing room making all sorts of compromises, and saying well gee, if I put the last scene first, and the middle scene at the end of the picture, and get a narrator, and use dissolves, and use opticals, and put this in slow motion and use titles here, you’re struggling for survival. And I still screw up a lot of the time. So that’s why I’ve often said… the only thing standing between greatness is me. There is no excuse.”
-Woody Allen, American Masters Documentary