Monday, September 13, 2004

Sydney Pollack -- actor/producer/director

A hectic time since last Thursday the 9th with the start of Toronto's International Film Festival here in town. I've been bouncing back and forth like Halley's Comet from after-gala fete, to film screening, to the occasional master class -- all the while managing in-between to write my latest screenplay. Busy times indeed!

I'd been the very fortunate participant of a 90 minute Master Session at the Sutton Place Hotel featuring famed triple-threat actor/producer/director Sydney Pollack -- known for his films Tootsie, Out of Africa, and The Firm -- amongst other gems.

Sitting shotgun in the front row -- I'd listened riveted to the insights flowing from this cinematic icon, some of which that needed sharing:

Pollack's view on acting:

He rails against the stereotype of the actors as "egotistical maniac." Claims Pollack: actors are "beings of ego who dwell on the cusp of their emotions at all times." It's what allows them to portray the roles they do -- claims he -- as they are constantly in direct contact with their "deep essences." As "beings of emotion," he criticises some directors who lord over their acting casts like obstinate tyrants, and warns the director attempting any shred of dishonesty with his charges. Having begun as an actor, Pollack makes the convincing case for the quintessential "actor's director" -- as he's lived the process.

Pollack's view on quixotic film industry success:

One of the lines I'll fondly remember: "Seldom does a film career inch along in a straight sequential line. There are many twists and turns along the way." This in response to an audience question on the secrets of his "success in cinema." Words to live by.

Pollack's view on today's digital filmmaking:

Today more than ever, he claims, aspiring filmmakers have the power of technology at their disposal to make "works of genius." With nothing more than a $500 camera, a persuasive directorial style, and an enthusiastic group of friends, one has the power to create a solid production "calling card." (He cited the examples of the short films present at Kevin Spacey's TriggerStreet) He only wishes he had that kind of power in his day -- but, then again, seldom does a career move in a straight line (wink, AM).

And lastly he entreats...persistence, persistence, persistence is omnipotent.


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