Jim Jarmusch About His Writing Process, Working With Actors, Learning From Robby Muller…
Sit around the fire and enter Jim Jarmusch‘s universe. The American filmmaker gave a Q&A at the Film Society Lincoln Center after a projection of Dead Man and shared inspiring stories about his process but also delightful anecdotes about convincing Neil Young to write Dead Man’s score, casting Gary Farmer, handling Johnny Depp (who was in his Brando period), and learning from cinematographer Robby Muller.
Turns out Jarmusch is quite the storyteller, not only being generous with his stories but also very entertaining, changing voices and impersonating characters. The full video is down at the end of the article and, as usual, I highly recommend you to watch it. Possibly your best lunch break of the week. And here is a personal selection of highlights:
About Genres and Conventions
“I was interested in Westerns as I am with any kind of genre that I might approach, I’m interested in them as a kind of frame within which you can kind of do whatever you want.”
About Channeling the Muses’ Voices While Writing
“A lot of times when I’m writing I’m just sort of writing down things I hear the characters say and I really don’t believe it came from me.”
About Writing for a Specific Actor
“I really try to think of an actor that I could collaborate with but also that I can imagine embodying this character, so I try very hard to have the actor already in mind. At least for all the central characters for sure.”
Working With Actors: Rehearsal vs. Improv
“It completely varies by the actors themselves. To me there is not one way to work with actors but there is one way for any one director to work with any one actor. Generally I do not rehearse what’s in the script, I love to rehearse scenes that I make up on the spot often, so the actors can be in characters and can learn to react as that character. But all actors are different.
Collaborating with Robby Müller
“We had no storyboard. A shot list really if only necessary for ourselves. Robbie’s idea is about instinct and trusting your instinct and your intuition. We did a lot of interesting things while scouting for this film together, which was we’d find the most dramatic, incredibly beautiful landscape you could imagine and then we would turn our backs on it and film the other way. And there’s something Robby would say was: ‘Look how magnificent that is, you can see it in a fucking calendar! let’s turn over there, there’s a small tree and a rock, it’s very sad and emotional.‘ So we would film that instead, and this is just one example of a kind of way that Robby thinks and I learned so much from him thinking that way. So, don’t look for the obvious, always keep your eyes open, keep thinking on your feet. Shooting a film is a process and you can’t control everything in the process, so be open.”