Simon Butler at CurnBlog interviews Whit Stillman on a myriad of subjects, including his process, how directing for TV is different from films, improv, music in his films, etc.
I can’t really say what the ultimate goal is because that’s a secret. And I’m not quite sure myself. I think it’s pretty clear. … I’m sort of surprised that people think that I’m being scathing – that I’m being hypercritical [of my characters]. I’m not disdainful of the characters. I’m pretty close to them.
Some of it is the casting of the actor. Analeigh Tipton [who played Lily] was very compelling and very likeable. I don’t want to be too schematic and obvious and biased. I like when an actor makes the character more rounded than in the script. I think Serena was sort of flattened in Metropolitan; she could’ve been more charming. Maybe that’s why Metropolitan is so popular – it’s a little bit conventional with the villains.
It depends. It’s not what we’re really after, where we’re just trying to get what we’ve written “XX” down because there’s very little time. Occasionally an actor will want to bring something else into it, and if it works it’s great. I had a guy create that kind of stuff in Damsels: Zach Woods. He added a whole level of performance that his comic chops brought to it. I love when an actor has the comicality that can raise what’s written several notches.
It’s totally different in the sense that generally, the director in film is a bit like the captain of the ship, while in TV the writer-producer is definitely the captain of the ship. You are kind of a first mate when you’re doing television. They’re very denigrating with the director role. It also depends entirely whether the director’s integrated into the productions.
And then Mark came in and made that music happen for the film, and then Mark did Barcelona as a solo job. He really did some very clever stuff unobtrusively in Disco. Mark’s my go-to guy for music.