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Quint sits in on the Schnabelicious directors panel at the SBFF! Reitman! Apatow! Schnabel! Gillespie! Bird! Shankman!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I can’t say the films I’ve been seeing at the Santa Barbara Film Festival this year have been top notch, but I’ve been hearing good things about the flicks I didn’t choose to see, so I’ll assume I’ve just made some poor choices in my cinema pickings. However, the directors panel that was held yesterday was one of the most entertaining, fun panels I’ve ever seen. Here’s the rundown:

(from left to right) Adam Shankman – Director Hairspray Julian Schnabel – Director The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Jason Reitman – Director Juno Brad Bird – Director Ratatouille Judd Apatow – Director Knocked Up (Producer of Superbad and Walk Hard) Craig Gillespie – Director Lars and the Real Girl The best way to cover these kinds of things, in my experience, is to give a bullet-hits of the panel, slugs of funny or interesting stories. So let’s do that. - Moderator Peter Bart opened up asking about 3-D as a format and Brad Bird was quick to come in and say that 3-D is great and the technology has jumped very far (meaning fewer headaches), but that he doesn’t think that’s that draw for the cinema. He said what’s missing is the huge theater communal experience. There’s nothing like seeing a movie in a 1500 seater and because of laws stating that every 300 seats of a theater has to be handicapped accessible theater owners have stopped building those huge houses and just have theaters that seat 300 or under so they don’t have to invest in ramps and elevators. Reitman jumped in saying that he can’t believe how explosive this is… Brad Bird hates cripples! Bird turned red, but laughed saying that he certainly doesn’t. Reitman then said, “Those damned handicapped people are screwing up our theatrical experience!” Everybody had a laugh, but Bird was quick to say that it should be both handicap accessible and huge auditoriums. That’s fair and that’s what’d bring back the communal experience of going to the theater. - Bart then turned to Judd Apatow and said he loved WALK HARD, but said that it was the most satirical of the films Apatow has been involved with. “Did we learn a lesson with Walk Hard that satire doesn’t work?” Apatow grabbed the mic and growled, “What the fuck are you talking about!?!” After the first round of laughter he says, “4.1 million opening weekend is a lot of money!” He rambled then for a minute then just stopped and stared Bart in the eye and said, “Why are you humiliating me, Peter? I came here to get my ass kissed hard! Two out of three is fine!” then he leaned back and waited for the crowd’s laughter to subside.

- Sean Young… Before the panel Kraken and I were daring each other to yell out “Get On With It!” the first time Julian Schnabel paused, but neither one of us had the guts to do it and we both knew that. So we secretly hoped someone else in the theater had the balls to do it. However, we needn’t have hoped because it was brought up on the panel and Schnabel said he loved Sean Young. “She gave me more press than the Coen Bros. I wish she was here right now.” He said he really didn’t have anything interesting to say, so when she so rudely interrupted him at that awards ceremony she just made what would have been an uninteresting fumbling speech into headline news.

- Schnabel then pleaded to those on the panel that have influence of the youth of today (I’m assuming that’d be Brad Bird, Jason Reitman and Judd Apatow) to stop the usage of the word “awesome.” “I’m serious.” That spawned a conversation of what was wrong with the word (Schnabel thought it was overused to the point that it lost all meaning) and what could replace it. Bird’s suggestion was “Schnabelicious.” I quite like that. - Bart asked Adam Shankman if he related to Tracy in HAIRSPRAY. Shankman blurted out: “What gay Jew isn’t like a fat girl who just wants to dance?” and that was his entire answer.

- Apatow shared a story about getting a note from Bill Clinton requesting to watch KNOCKED UP on a plane ride. Apatow sent over a copy of the movie and as a thank you got a note back from Bill that included a cheaply made pair of presidential cufflinks. But he noticed nowhere in the note did Clinton ever mention the name of the movie and Apatow has a theory that Clinton didn’t want a paper trail with KNOCKED UP appearing anywhere on it. - Schnabel said he won the Golden Globe for Best Director while standing in the baggage claim area at JFK, watching the TV monitors there as they read off his name. - Schnabel also wanted to make PERFUME and recounted a story about getting an email from one of the producers of that film while doing a round-table interview. He had developed the movie for a while and then was forced out and the email said that even though they had creative differences the producer begged him to stop calling him an idiot in the press. So, Schnabel read the letter to the reporters at the roundtable. Then, at the panel, he also said the producer wasn’t just an idiot, but a nazi. This guy is awesome. - The question of why animation was always aimed at children (citing the great adult use of it in PERSEPOLIS recently) came up and Brad Bird answered that there’s a line determining how realistic the movement in animation can be. Once you go for a good realistic movement then the budget grows at an alarming rate and in order to make your money back from that you have to aim it at the most profitable (ie family) demographic.

- A WGA member in the audience asked about the strike and specifically what the directors on the panel thought of the deal the DGA struck with the Producers. Apatow said, as a producer, that “the studios, for want of a better word, want to rape the writers.” He then said that TV writers, who are lucky to get to write 2 episodes of a show every season, get a percentage of reruns that equals to about $18000. What the studios are trying to do is move reruns to online completely and the deal they offered was zero money unless it ran for a certain amount of time, then they’d get a flat fee of $1200, which is taking $16,800 from their pockets, if not the full $18000 if they decide to pull the episode out of rotation a day before they hit that wall. He said that bottom line the studios are just trying to use this as a way to take money away from the writers, not just deny them future revenues. His words were: “studios are just trying to shuffle the money back from the writers to their pockets.”

- Reitman was asked about working in comedy and he said that he felt he could say more about teenage pregnancy and the tobacco lobby in his comedic films than he could have in a dramatic version. He said that comedy allows you to push more political buttons without coming off as being preachy. - One of my favorite bits for the panel was something Brad Bird said about the industry. He said that in the time he’s been in Hollywood he’s noticed a disturbing rise in the fatty middle of the studio system. There are only a small percentage that actually make things happen, only a very small percentage that can say Yes. When he started he said he loved Yes and Maybe, but hated No. Now he loves No and Yes and hates Maybe. “They’ll kill you with Maybe,” he said. And it’s because most people working in Hollywood don’t have the authority to say “Yes” so “Maybe” is what you always get and that’s dangerous because it keeps you from actually making your film happen.

This panel was one of the highlights of the festival for me. Seeing these guys, all exciting talents in the game, pal around and crack some nice off-color jokes with each other was electric and almost like a good stand-up routine. I still have a few more reviews from SB and more Sundance catch-up. Plus a big set visit… Lots in the works! Stay tuned. -Quint

Readers Talkback
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  • Feb. 5, 2008, 1:35 p.m. CST

    Brad Bird looks like a hologram..

    by A G

    ..but a cool one.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 1:51 p.m. CST

    fun panel and report

    by Rupee88

    sounds like some entertaining guys. Brad Bird is the mfing man..

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 1:56 p.m. CST

    Barry Morse, R.I.P.

    by Pennsy

    He died Saturday, and was 89: Philip Gerard on the Fugitive, Prof. Victor Bergman on Space 1999 and thousands of other roles. He'll be missed.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 2:04 p.m. CST

    "this guy is awesome"

    by AllieJamison

    ...hehehehee... nice report. I wonder if it was Bernd Eichinger whom Schnabel called a Nazi.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 2:05 p.m. CST

    Why don't they...

    by LordPorkington

    ...just pool their money and start their own movie studio? Cuts out the 'maybe' men and they can do whatever the fuck they want. Easier said than done of course, but it would be great to see!

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 2:08 p.m. CST


    by LordPorkington

    Have you always been a whiny little bitch, or did you just get out of your mother's bed on the wrong side this morning? Some people have nothing else better to do than whine and moan. Go out and make some movies yourself if you think you can do so much better.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 2:10 p.m. CST

    Julian Schnabel

    by Stevie Grant

    Anyone else see Schnabel on Charlie Rose? That guy is the embodiment of douchehood. However, he did deliver on Basquiat (wrote and directed it), and I hope he delivers on Diving Bell (seeing it later this week).

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 2:10 p.m. CST

    and Juno was very mediocre

    by Rupee88

    downloaded it and watched it last night...way overrated and just not very good...tries to be too clever and just fails.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 2:12 p.m. CST

    The man's an artist!

    by seppukudkurosawa Full length episode of Schnabel and David Bowie on the Charlie Rose Show. It's great to see them arguing with each other about...pretty much everything. Schnabel comes across a little precious in that interview, actually, but there's no denying the greatness of Butterfly... so mo' power to him.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 2:42 p.m. CST

    Chalk and cheese...

    by LordPorkington

    You're comparing totally different types of film-makers though! Could Judd Apatow have made No Country For Old Men? Of course not. But could Joel and Ethan Coen have made The 40 Year Old Virgin? Again, of course not. Each set of movie-makers are talented in their own genre. If you don't like a single movie from the combined output of this particular panel, then fair enough, that's your opinion. But to say that Brad Bird and Judd Apatow lack talent in their respective fields makes you look a tad foolish sir.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 2:56 p.m. CST

    You attended. You did not "sit in"

    by ArcadianDS

    "sits in" makes it sound like you were on the panel.<p> Seriously, you guys need to hire me to check this stuff for you.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 3:01 p.m. CST

    Brad Bird mediocre?! What films of his have you seen

    by Lovecraftfan

    Once again Brad Bird gets trashed in AICN talkbacks.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 3:16 p.m. CST


    by AllieJamison

    thanks for the "Schnabel at Charlie Rose" links/hints, guys. gonna check it out.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 3:21 p.m. CST

    Roger Bart moderated?

    by Ditch Brodie

    From acting in "The Producers" and "Hostel 2" to moderating this panel, the man's career does not run a predictable path. Just playin', but you might want to go back and fix that, Quint. Good write-up otherwise.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 3:33 p.m. CST

    The Coens could have made 40-Year Old Virgin

    by tonagan

    They really are that talented.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 4 p.m. CST

    I like douche-bag directors like Schnabel.

    by Knuckleduster

    Wouldn't wanna work with them, but they sure do entertain.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 4:15 p.m. CST

    Okay tonagan...

    by LordPorkington

    ... I concede that the Coens probably *could* have made The 40 Year Old Virgin, but it's tone would have been considerably different to Apatow's. Still, I'd love to see their take on it. My point was, Apatow does his thing in his own way. Anyone walking into one of his movies expecting to see an Oscar winning performance is going to be sorely disappointed. However, if you just fancy a chuckle for an hour or two, he can provide that, assuming you dig his style of comedy. I know he's not to everyone's taste, but that's the joy of comedy, isn't it? It's horses for courses...

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 4:51 p.m. CST


    by frongbak

    Glover has a point, Croenenberg and Coen are far superior directors and it seriously fuct that Reitman got a Best Director nomination over DC in Eastern Promises, not to mention the screwing he got for A History of Violence. I hope Reitman can do something with this new Horror film he's doing with Diablo. He needs to inject at least some visual inventiveness to his style, so far he gets good cast and coasts.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 4:53 p.m. CST


    by hamslime

    You mean like 2,000,000 hot-dogs? That is pretty scnhabelicious indeed. I can't believe and academy award nominee is hacking Eddie Izzard. Now that is AWESOME!

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 4:54 p.m. CST


    by hamslime

    You mean like 2,000,000 hot-dogs? That is pretty scnhabelicious indeed. I can't believe and academy award nominee is hacking Eddie Izzard. Now that is AWESOME!

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 5:06 p.m. CST


    by Automaton Overlord

    Mediocre? Dude! How can you say that about Brad Bird? He's only ever directed; an episode of Amazing Stories, a couple of Simpsons episodes, The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, and Ratatoille. I haven't seen Ratatoille yet, so I won't argue about that, but come on! THE IRON GIANT! - THE INCREDIBLES! Maybe you're an anime snob who automaticaly dismisses all American animation.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 6:34 p.m. CST

    Brad Bird looks like Syndrome!



  • Feb. 5, 2008, 7:03 p.m. CST

    Brad Bird is an amazing director.

    by silentbobfan

    Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant. Just because he doesn't make art house films doesn't make him just as good a film maker as P.T. Anderson or the Coens. They have their audiences and he has his. If the Coens tried to make a children's movie that adults could enjoy as well I can guarantee you they would fail.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 8:36 p.m. CST

    Forgetting Sarah Marshall red band trailer now on YouTube...

    by Pennsy :)

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 9:01 p.m. CST

    Ethan Coen was a co-writer on Toy Story

    by half vader

    One degree of Pixar! But yes Bird is awesome (geddit?) and Dannyglover is obviously just being a troll. <p> Is this discussion thing on Youtube? <p> Also I wish Bird had brought up how you actually need to structure the pacing and shot progression from wide to close and direction of movement in 3d differently to 2d to avoid jarring changes in depth of field and so-on. I liked B.O.Wulf (stole that one from Mark Mayerson) all right but Zemeckis sure as shit didn't actually conceive the thing as 3d in terms of cinematic storytelling. Just put a few zooms and "comin' at ya" shots in. Can't wait for someone to actually use 3d as part of the film's language.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 9:05 p.m. CST

    And Raising Arizona is a children's movie that adults

    by half vader

    can enjoy (if you're playing semantics, ha!). Turn to the raht!!

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 9:16 p.m. CST

    Don't forget the profile, Half Vader

    by haggardatbest

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 9:55 p.m. CST


    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    an, Iron Giant, if you will, in the filmmaking community. If you don't love the Iron Giant then you, sir, have no soul.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 9:59 p.m. CST

    The Coen Brothers did try and make a kids film

    by s0nicdeathmonkey

    The Hudsucker Proxy was marketed at the family set if I remember.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 10:22 p.m. CST


    by Stevie Grant

    I was talking about his most recent appearance. Check out the one where he's talking about Diving Bell, or just look at what he's wearing. It's the outfit of man who crawled so far up his own ass, he magically popped through in yellow glasses and what looks to be pajamas with a suit jacket thrown over them. And that pajama top halfway unbuttoned.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 10:55 p.m. CST

    Yeah, Hudsucker!

    by half vader

    "Y'know, for kids!" <p> P.S. To be truthful I don't think Coen's input on Toy Story was enormous from the sound of things. I'd love to know for sure though.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 11:02 p.m. CST


    by half vader

    Son, you got a panty on your head.

  • Feb. 5, 2008, 11:06 p.m. CST

    What kind of Pyjamas?

    by half vader

    I don't know, Jammies! They had Yodas'n'shit!

  • Feb. 6, 2008, 12:15 a.m. CST

    We all saw how well Hudsucker did.

    by silentbobfan

    I know for a fact that if I got my numerous cousins (boys and girls ranging from 2-12) all together they would not sit through the Hudsucker Proxy. It's not that enjoyable of a film for children. The 12 year old cousin might but he also listens to Fall Out Boy, thinks Bam Margera is a God, and the movie he wanted me to take him to see this summer the most was Chuck and Larry so I don't have much faith in him to enjoy anything decent.I personally saw the film with my Dad when I was much younger and it bored me to tears. I never appreciated it until I got older. Even then I don't rank it very highly amongst the other Coen films. The Coens might have a kids film in them but I just highly doubt it.

  • Feb. 6, 2008, 1:34 a.m. CST

    Shankman trying to be funny

    by BurgerKing

    What the hell is he doing sitting with the rest of those guys?

  • Feb. 6, 2008, 1:49 a.m. CST

    Wow silentbob

    by half vader

    I think you dropped your sense of humour there mate. And doesn't Toy Story half count at least (due to it being only one brother)? Also, positing a theory "if I got my Cousins" as fact "I know for a fact" is grammatically a bit wonky my friend. ;) <p> Did they really market it as a family film Sonic? Maybe in the U.S. Weird. Have you seen the film? I guess it's family in the sense of no non-stop swearing and violence, but not in the generally accepted manner. It's basically a throwback to the screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s which would be rated G these days but certainly not for kids. <p> And why does everyone make the same mistake of equating family/all ages with kids' films which are aimed squarely at that demo?They're not necessarily the same thing.

  • Feb. 6, 2008, 1:49 a.m. CST

    There are two kinds of douche bag directors.

    by Winterchili

    The good kind, who are douche bags to the studio assholes, and the bad kind who are douche bags to PAs.

  • Feb. 6, 2008, 1:53 a.m. CST

    Schnabelicious has been pulling that shit for years

    by half vader

    The dressinggown thing. Although to be fair I'm not sure if it is actually all for show.

  • Feb. 6, 2008, 3:07 a.m. CST

    Coen's kids

    by hamslime

    My roommates kids LOVE O' Brother Where art Thou? Just sayin'.

  • Feb. 6, 2008, 10:32 a.m. CST

    And the women are...

    by egg86

    AWOL, as usual. Don't get me wrong, I love these directors. But it bothers me that there are so few women in the industry or who get a chance to be on panels like this. Gals like to crack off-color jokes too, ya know.

  • Feb. 6, 2008, 2:40 p.m. CST


    by Archive

    If you're downloading independent movies for free, then I hope you've never complained about the sewage flowing out of corporate entertainment, because that's the only part of this industry that doesn't need the ten bucks - whether you liked Juno or not, you just voted for Electra, Hilary Duff movies, and the Benchwarmers with your money. I thought it was a great article. Personally, I didn't like Thank You for Smoking, and felt the script either needed to get real or ham it up but good, but I gave Juno a try and loved it. In both cases, I don't really miss the ten bucks, and I'm happy to support good filmmaking. I did watch Elektra though, and while I do wish I'd spent my time more wisely, I responded by not spending it on Benchwarmers and such, instead of stealing from an industry I profess to love. If it seems like I take it personally, I do. Taking movies personally is why I come to this site. Jason Reitman doesn't owe you anything. And if you hadn't downloaded Juno, you wouldn't owe him, either.