Accessibility links

De Palma in Venice: It Takes Humor to Make it in Films

  • Reuters

Director Brian De Palma poses at the photo call for the film De Palma and for the Glory To The Filmmaker Award 2015 at the 72nd edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Sept. 9, 2015.

Director Brian De Palma poses at the photo call for the film De Palma and for the Glory To The Filmmaker Award 2015 at the 72nd edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Sept. 9, 2015.

Veteran American director Brian De Palma said on Wednesday at the Venice Film Festival that his advice to young filmmakers is they must never give up, but they also need luck and a sense of humor in order to succeed.

Seventy-five-year-old De Palma was being honored for a career spanning half a century, which has included "Scarface" with Al Pacino (1983), the Chicago gangster film "The Untouchables" (1987) and the launch of the Tom Cruise "Mission: Impossible" franchise in 1996.

"There's no point in teaching film students unless you have this great ability to keep going no matter what they tell you," De Palma said is his advice to would-be filmmakers.

"You must persist and you must also be lucky. You have to have talent, persistence and luck to survive in this business," he said at a press conference before receiving the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker 2015 Award.

De Palma's appearance at the festival coincides with the screening of the documentary "De Palma," by filmmakers Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, based on 30 to 40 hours of filmed interviews with De Palma made about five years ago.

"The genius of it was how they were able to take out their questions and then illustrate the film with all these pieces of other film, and to me its quite amazing," De Palma said of the documentary, in which he talks about his career, illustrated by clips from his films.

Asked to identify his favorites among his 39 commercial films, plus dozens of other projects, De Palma demurred, saying it was like asking a parent to name his favorite child.

But he said he was fond of the stairway shootout scene in "The Untouchables," which is a tribute to the Odessa Steps sequence in Sergei Eisenstein's "Battleship Potemkin" (1925).

He also cited the steady-cam at the beginning of "The Bonfire of the Vanities" (1990) and the museum scene in "Dressed to Kill" (1980).

"All are fascinating experiments that turned out quite well," he said.

Baumbach, whose films include "Frances Ha" and the current "Mistress America," said De Palma's career took place mostly in a different era, but stands as an example to filmmakers today.

"It's a document of a kind of career that probably only could have happened during the period that he made those movies," Baumbach said.

XS
SM
MD
LG