Ben Affleck arrived amid throngs of fans and paparazzi at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica for a Q&A of his directorial efforts, “The Town” and “Gone Baby Gone.” Both have received tremendous praise and given a second wind to his career that was in lousy shape. Upon being introduced to a standing ovation, he remarked, “This is nice! People are still in the seats! It’s always cool when people stay through the end credits!”
So why did he want to direct? Having worked for some time, Affleck said he was lucky to work with many gifted people but that he became frustrated with the direction films he starred in went. Realizing film is a director’s medium, he decided it was time to give it a shot. With “Gone Baby Gone,” Affleck said he was determined to fail on his merits and succeed on them as well. He described his previous directorial experience as being comprised of “horrible college movies” that made him happy YouTube wasn’t around when he worked on them.
“Gone Baby Gone” does feel like the work of a confident director, but Affleck said he felt that “failure was around the corner” while making it. He found shooting utterly difficult in finding things that worked, and he was forced to shoot take after take to bring actors to a state of relaxation. The whole process apparently made him feel like “jumping off a roof.” The movie still does mean a great deal to him though, and it allowed him to go after the core philosophy of “acting making the movie.” It also dealt with themes he wanted to explore such as children paying for the sins of their parents and how strong moral ideals are not always rewarded.
With “The Town,” Affleck succeeded in making both a genre movie and a character movie by taking a drama and “wrapping it inside the shell of a traditional action movie.” That it was set in Boston was appealing as well. “The Friends of Eddie Coyle” served as an inspiration for “The Town,” and Affleck said he wanted to make a modern film noir that felt real to where your brain wasn’t telling you that it wasn’t. Editing it was painful though as the assembly cut was four hours long and he wasn’t sure what to take out. Test audiences didn’t help either as he remarked, “They liked the action. They didn’t like the talking!”
Affleck also talked about Pete Postlethwaite who co-starred in “The Town” and passed away before the movie was released. Postlethwaite was sick during shooting, but Affleck said he still did the movie and came to work each day with a great attitude. Despite him playing such an unsavory character, Affleck said that Postlethwaite was always wonderful to be around.
With directing, Affleck said it gave him the appreciation he didn’t always have for what others did on set. He confessed that he had no idea of what the crew and that actors always believe film sets revolve around them. Considering what he’s been through before and after “Gigli,” he considers himself “remarkably sane for winning an Oscar” in his 20’s. We have seen him go from good movies to awful ones (even he admits that), but he finds himself to be a “late bloomer” which is tricky if you have success early on in life. We eagerly wait to see what he will direct next, and we thank him for coming by and leaving us with this advice for aspiring filmmakers:
“Don’t make any movies with your girlfriend.”