Gangs of New York

Gangs of New York

On Martin Scorsese

He likes to collaborate with the actor. Not tell the
actor what to do. He would never give an actor a line reading; he’d
never say, ‘Say it this way.’ He tries his damndest to get what
he feels is right for the movie by just encouraging and creating
an environment where the actors are safe and free to experiment
and knows they’ll be protected if they do experience; that it won’t
be used in a bad way.

I’m always so impressed when I’m working with him
in looping sessions with actors. Even if he can’t get a certain
reading, he’ll never go up and tell the actor how to do it. He’ll
just move on rather than tell the actor how to do it, because he
feels that that’s a real violation.

His commitment to the truth is very, very deep.

On collaborating with Scorsese

One of the most important times for me is when he’s
telling me what he thinks every day during dailies. He’s constantly
talking to me and I’m writing like the wind what he says about each
take. I use that to build my selects and, from my selects, I start

On first impressions in the editing room

Your first impression of something is very important,
and you have to hold on to that when you are editing. You have to
remember ‘I know that the first time I saw that I felt this,’
Because over the editing period you can sometimes lose that.

On directing

I often tell students about how Marty shot that “what’s
so funny about me,” scene in Goodfellas. He shot it in medium
shots, not close-ups. In fact, he didn’t even want to shoot it in
close-ups because he didn’t want to be tempted to use them. He wanted
to show how the people around Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci were progressively
getting more and more freaked out about what was going on with the
people around them. That’s really great directing.

On acting without your eyebrows

One of the things Marty’s always saying to me about
actors is, “The eyebrow. Too much eyebrow.’ In other words, he doesn’t
want the actor indicating something by lifting their eyebrow; he
wants them to let you know what they’re feeling through their face.
He wants something that’s coming internally out of the actor.

On growing up in Aruba

I think it’s been very helpful to me in my life… I
think that my deep interest in what goes on in the rest of the world
comes from my experience living abroad… Maybe the richness of my
upbringing, in the sense that I met so many types of people, helped
cultivate [the eye of an observer].

On the sound of Raging Bull

When I talk to students about [Raging Bull],
I end up spending about a quarter of the time talking about what
[sound effects editor] Frank Warner did for the film. He had very
simple, very pure ideas, and one of them was a drum; a very simple
drum. He played it himself, and he would distort it—play it backwards,
whatever. And throughout the film he put it in in this astonishing,
subtle way. His sound effects throughout are just remarkable.