With a stage full of 10 panelists and moderator Senior Programmer John Nein, the format of today's Cinema Cafe on collaboration complimented its content. The group of directors, editors, cinematographers, writers, and actors from Blue Valentine, Night Catches Us, Winter's Bone, and Get Low all welcomed questions about the give-and-take process of working in tandem.
The core to many collaborative acts from co-writing to dog walking is trusting the person at the other end. Blue Valentine's director, Derek Cianfrance, told a few tales from the trenches along with his actors Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Evidently, Derek put great emphasis on building an intimate, authentic relationship between Ryan and Michelle as he had them live in a house together, go grocery shopping, and engage in many of life's everyday activities as husband and wife – including a story Ryan recollected about Derek instructing him to walk a dog, make it poop, then clean up said poop.
After this level of trust is reached, these filmmaking collaborations often evolve into lifelong partnerships. Debra Granik, the writer-director of Winter's Bone, has learned to leave the "technicalities" to her cinematographer Michael McDonough; she speaks in layman's terms to him about their ideas for creating images. The pair have been collaborating since film school, and they have a found a great rhythm, including watching tons of films and going through photography books together so they can both start lending emotions to their ideas before they start putting anything on paper.
All panelists seemed to agree that filmmaking is a balancing act: you must give yourself space to work, then set that space free to work with those around you. These morning conversations at Cinema Cafe are a great way to hear the many voices that orchestrate this year's films. Don't miss Tuesday’s On Australia talk at 10:30 a.m., where we can see if they collaborate any differently down under.