PRINT November 1987


IN NOVEMBER 1965, A SMALL-BUDGET black-and-white film released in London caused a sensation among film critics. Only the second feature made by its young director, producer, and writer team, Shakespeare Wallah told the story of a small, discouraged group of itinerant Anglo-Indian actors in India, and in doing so interwove such themes as the loss of Britain’s empire, the outsider, and the fascination of movies at the expense of theater. The film became an instant classic. The director was James Ivory, an American; the producer was Ismail Merchant, an Indian; the writer was Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, an Englishwoman born in Germany and living in Delhi.

It wasn’t until late in 1969 that I managed to catch up with Shakespeare Wallah, at a screening in New York attended by the director and producer, who had just raised the modest funds for their fourth feature, Bombay Talkie. (Their third film, The Guru, had just disappeared from distribution with barely a trace.) As I had recently been in India, I was especially eager to meet Merchant and Ivory, and probably a bit too ready to show off my newly gained knowledge of the subcontinent. In spite of this we became close friends, and eventually I had the good fortune, for a couple of years, to be part of the struggling entity Merchant Ivory Productions. It was an exciting time. For example, in 1971 I worked on the production of their film Savages, which was made on an impossibly small budget. The idea for the film originated one evening when we were at dinner, in a Hungarian restaurant in New York, with Ivory saying, “What if. . . . ” Three months later there was a film.

Since those days Merchant, Ivory, and Jhabvala have made another dozen or so films, both documentaries and features. With The Europeans, 1979, Quartet, 1981, Heat and Dust, 1983, The Bostonians, 1984, and A Room with a View, 1986, they have become well-known for their distinguished adaptations of major literary works to the screen. However, there are many other aspects that characterize their films, particularly their respect for what cinema can achieve. They recognize the public’s desire for something more challenging than Hollywood usually provides, and even when operating on small budgets they engage superb cameramen and dedicated actors. In a sense they are building a bridge between theater and cinema, with full awareness of the struggle of the arts to survive in our electronic age. Surely the plight of the theater has never been more poignantly portrayed than in a scene in their early film Shakespeare Wallah. We see a young English actress in a small provincial Indian theater, giving the performance of her life as Desdemona in the final act of Othello—when into the theater comes a bombshell, a Bombay film star, and the entire house turns from the stage to watch this idol of the silver screen. Today, over 20 years later, the anachronistic quality of the Merchant Ivory films can also be seen as a vanguard action in defense of the highest traditions of cinema.

Another achievement of Merchant Ivory Productions is the way in which Ivory, Merchant, and Jhabvala—as well as the composer Richard Robbins, who for some years now has written the music for their films—have worked together for so long. In fact, the partnership is somewhat looser now than before, with Jhabvala writing her novels and currently a screenplay for John Schlesinger, Merchant producing and sometimes directing films on his own in India, and Ivory pursuing scripts for some of their future films with other writers. The collaboration has always been a relationship in which each member is also independent, which is surely the secret of its success and vitality.

The recent occasion of the 25th anniversary of the partnership prompted the following conversations. In keeping with the way Ivory, Merchant, and Jhabvala work, I thought it truest to have a separate interview with each of them.


ANTHONY KORNER: An additional “character” in almost every film that you’ve made comes from the architecture. You seem to choose a location the way you’ve cast characters.

JAMES IVORY: Architecture is important to me. I may be making up for the lack of that kind of thing in my childhood, when I was growing up in Klamath Falls, Oregon, an absolutely remote and barren far-western town which had no architecture. The greatest building there was the Ford garage—it was built in the form of an Egyptian temple, with sloping glass sides and the cars inside. Then I went to the University of Oregon, where I studied architecture for the first three years of college before going into a general fine-arts course and concentrating on painting, printmaking, ceramics, and drawing. I took a wonderful architectural-history course from a man named Marion Ross, who really was the best teacher I ever had. If you paid attention, and if you were interested, and I was very interested, Ross gave you a grounding in architecture that never left you. It was like learning to do your multiplication tables.

In making a film, I feel that I have to have a background of some kind of impressive building. In Bombay Talkie, for example, the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay is really like a character exerting some baleful influence. We keep coming back to it, and especially to the grand staircase. A building can be impressive for all kinds of reasons. It can be a completely crazy concoction of a building, like the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, where we filmed The Wild Party [1975], or you can come to a noble backdrop like the Piazza Signoria in Florence, in A Room with a View, or the quadrangle of King’s College, Cambridge, in our new film Maurice.

Still, my favorite location isn’t a building at all—it’s the giant typewriter we constructed in the studio for the opening dance number of Bombay Talkie.

AK: I’ve never seen any graphic work of yours.

JI: I sort of mess around with a kind of storyboard sometimes. Occasionally I’ll draw little pictures in the scripts, just to keep what I have to do straight in my mind. But they’re just diagrams—they don’t have artistic value. After I got out of college and before I started seriously to make films, I did an awful lot of painting. I took it up when I was a senior in college and went on for four or five years, painting a lot, until finally, under the influence of my filmmaking, there wasn’t time for it anymore.

AK: I was amused to read that as a child you particularly liked disaster movies. That’s not something you’ve ever pursued in your own filmmaking career. Did that interest die out, or have you transferred physical disasters into emotional ones?

JI: What you enjoy seeing is not the same as what you want to do yourself. I still like disaster movies. They don’t make very many, but occasionally there’s something that comes along and I may see it. But I never really had an interest in doing something like that. My films are not scaled to vast cataclysmic events. They’re much more private.

AK: You’ve spoken of Satyajit Ray’s The Music Room [1958] as one of your favorite films.

JI: I must say I can’t think of very many films I’ve seen since I first saw it that would replace it in my affections.

AK: I always admired how Ray’s films, the early ones particularly, could take a village in Bengal and make it apply to the whole of humanity. I too think The Music Room is one of the masterpieces of cinema, but it seems to me flawed. I think that to end with the zamindar, the aristocratic landowner, falling to his death from his horse is contrived.

JI: Lots of great works have contrived endings, and I don’t know whether or not that really matters. Look at E. M. Forster’s novel Howards End. No one would dispute it’s a great book, but, as Forster said, you often feel the whole structure is no better than something propped up on two toothpicks. Yet it’s a pretty tremendous structure.

AK: Do you think those toothpicks are an analogy for filmmaking?

JI: I do, yes. A lot in filmmaking is very pasted together. Film, like theater, offers wonderful opportunities for sleight of hand. You can get away with murder in movies and the viewer may not be aware of what you’re doing, how you’re manipulating the bits and pieces, how they themselves are being manipulated. What they’re aware of is a sort of total impression that they either like or don’t like. In fact, very few people who see films are really able to analyze what they’ve seen. The only way they could properly analyze it would be to take a print into an editing room and put that print on a Steenbeck or a Moviola and run it very carefully over and over, and if they know how shots are taken and edited, then they would very slowly begin to see how a film is made.

It’s always rather surprising to directors the kinds of things critics, and film historians especially, write about how films are put together, what they think they’ve seen. Very often what they describe didn’t happen. For many people it’s a mistake to try to analyze the techniques of filmmaking in print. It’s like attempting to analyze a piece of music. No matter how much you love music and no matter how much you like listening to it, no matter how many times you’ve played your favorite piece, you can’t possibly analyze it unless you really understand music. Then, although you still may not express the reason why this creation is particularly beautiful, at least you know what is done in it. Film and music are similar arts. They are arts that pass, that have a beginning and flow past you till they come to the end, and their flow past you is part of the art. You usually can’t stop them anywhere in the middle to have a look, so it’s difficult for the non-filmmaker to know what’s really passing.

AK: You talk of the director’s sleight of hand; there is one particular trick that always irritates me. It happens in many films—the example that comes to mind is Joseph Losey’s version of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The characters reach a villa that happens to be a famous Palladio building, La Rotonda, which is in Vicenza. They arrive by boat, but Vicenza is forty miles from the sea. I find this terribly irritating.

JI: Well, Losey is just using the house as a set. He might mix together scenes shot there with scenes in several other villas—he just wants to give the impression of a space. I sympathize with your irritation, though—if I’m seeing a film set in a place that’s familiar to me, a particular city that I know terribly well, and the characters go around the corner of one street into another street five miles away, it makes me wild. But that trick is just an irritating invasion of one’s knowledge of the physical world. I remember particularly a David Lean film [Summertime] set in Venice, with Katharine Hepburn in it, and in true David Lean fashion he turns the city upside down. I remember Hepburn is going down the Grand Canal on one of those ferry boats and she runs across to one side of the boat to ooh and aah at some great sight, and then she immediately runs to the other side to ooh and aah at another, and the first view is the Rialto bridge and the second is a place at least a mile away. Anybody who knows Venice would be outraged, and I certainly was too. I thought, if I ever make films of this sort I will never do things like this. And I have to say we have done things like it. In Maurice, when Clive goes to Greece, he is actually at a Greek temple in Sicily. We could probably have done it at that version of the Parthenon they built in Tennessee. The ultimate in film is to make the viewer believe what he or she is seeing, not whether it’s geographically accurate.

AK: I know that Satyajit Ray recut your film The Householder [1963] at your request. What influence has he had on your work?

JI: He had enormous influence on me—quite tangible, in fact, in that all the technicians for The Householder, which was my first feature film, had been trained by him. Everything they knew had come from him or they had learned in collaboration with him. Satyajit and the cameraman, Subrata Mitra, were great collaborators over the years. So when Subrata came to do our film it was as if he was looking at our scenes, our material, through eyes that Ray in a way had trained, as I’m sure Subrata had also to an extent trained Ray’s eyes. That was bound to stamp my first film with their feel. And Ray himself influenced it further in the editing room by giving it his own pace and supervising the music. As material, of course, it wasn’t like Ray—Ruth, who wrote it, is a Westerner, and you could say in a sense an outsider looking at the Indian scene. Ray is a Bengali, working from the inside. But his influence is there, and I’m sure it has never left me. My way of looking at things, developing a scene, timing probably, pacing, all that sort of thing—I probably got a lot of that from Ray.

You could also say there’s a kind of moral connection. I think Ray’s interests are also mine—the kinds of things he likes to show, the way he portrays people and their emotions and their lives. I don’t think it’s that different from what we do.

AK: One of the criticisms that is sometimes heard of you is that you fall in love with your scenes and don’t end them soon enough.

JI: I can’t help it if people say that. Have they a plan for that extra ten minutes I would save for them if I cut off some of my scenes early? What are they going to do with that ten minutes—smoke two cigarettes and stand on a street corner?

AK: I remember in Bombay Talkie _you were dissatisfied with the cremation scene you had planned for the end, and cut it. I always thought that was a great pity—the film now has no ending.

JI: I don’t agree at all. I think the ending of Bombay Talkie is one of the most perfect endings of all our films, I really do. The murder, the servant coming in with the tea tray and no one saying anything, the body lying on the floor and then the servant seeing what he sees, and then his hands beginning to shake so that all the cups and saucers and the teapot on the tray go jingle, jingle, jingle, and then fade-out—I think it’s terribly good. I have to defend that.

AK: A very big theme that seems to me to run strongly through many of your films is the theme of the outsider, the exile.

JI: It’s true that’s something we’ve done again and again, though we don’t do it every time. Maybe it’s because we live all over the place, and going from country to country has been our basic experience.

AK: Do you think some of your public will be shocked by the homosexual relationships in Maurice ?

JI: How can they be, in 1987? It amused me to see the censor rating the film got in England—suitable for 15-year-olds. That’s a measure of how far we’ve come since Forster wrote the book, how far the official watchers over morality have come.


AK: It’s very difficult to be a small filmmaking company without big resources. How do you do it?

ISMAIL MERCHANT: I sometimes wonder how in these past 25 years we have been able to make films. Just the bureaucracies are enough to stop one. Each country has its own regulations and problems, which dictate a great deal about how you make your films. In India the government runs things. In England, the unions are in control, and the same in France, in Italy, and in America. So people who want to make films have to sort of dodge and cover themselves and work out how to get through it all. Some of our films look as if they’re made with huge production budgets, but we have to create the effect of millions of dollars by spending only a hundred dollars, so every dime that we get is spent on the film. You have to be a clever maneuverer in your negotiations with unions and for locations as well as with the cast and crew. But what’s really exciting is putting together a film—the first idea, the casting, the locations. For example, casting Madhur Jaffrey in the part of the Bombay film star in Shakespeare Wallah, that was daring. We wanted Madhur right from the beginning. But many people didn’t want her because she doesn’t look like an obvious Indian movie star. We’ve done wrong castings in the past, too, particularly in The Guru. I wanted a real pop star to play the part of the pop singer, like Mick Jagger or one of the Beatles—to bring out that kind of animal energy that would have been so important to the film, and that no professional actor quite has, no matter how good. But it didn’t happen that way.

AK: You obviously like to work together with the same people.

IM: Because they understand you and you understand them. Working with Dick Robbins, the composer, you know he is going to understand what you need and what you want. Similarly, with Ruth you never have to say much. When the first draft of her screenplay is done I read it and if I don’t like something I say it. You are comfortable in that area with each other and you know it is going to be absolutely perfect. On the other hand, I also like to have new people, because then you’re adding the unknown and you are more on your toes.

AK: Why don’t you make commercial films, in the sense of films with commercial subjects?

IM: What is a commercial film? Let me ask just that. But if what you mean is a film calculated for its popular potential I will answer by saying that I want our films to look like classical music, which does have an enormous audience all over the world. There’s a possibility for a formula for “hit” films, which is all very well for people who like them, even if the films are banal or mindless or whatever. But I think if you are educated in life, if you read good books and keep good company, your mind is stimulated and you’ve got ideas. So why make mindless formula films? There is no point.

AK: Who would you say have been the main influences on your taste in films?

IM: I grew up reading Urdu literature in India. Munshi Prem Chand and people like that have always been important to me—I discovered them when I was a young boy. By the way, Urdu has been completely wiped out from most parts of India, and it was once a language that supported great poets, Hindu and Muslim. That is a very important theme as far as I’m concerned. Then of course we had to read the English classics in school and college. But the main thing for me was popular cinema. Hindi films, with their songs and dances, are very popular in India, and Hollywood films too—films like Samson and Delilah, The Ten Commandments, Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai. Then there was the profound effect on me of the films of Satyajit Ray, Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, and François Truffaut, which I saw after I came to America. After these I said to myself, the other kind of cinema is not the cinema I really want to make. I want to make films like these.

AK: How do you decide on your projects?

IM: If we decide we want to do something, we generally can, because we are a force in ourselves—we combine writer, director, producer, and even composer, since Dick Robbins has worked with us for 11 years now. That pooled effort has so far allowed us to do what we want to. The money is always found somehow. The projects are there and they’re constantly being developed. In 1972, for instance, in an interview with Penelope Houston and John Gillett for the British magazine Sight and Sound, they asked what we wanted to film next. We mentioned Henry James’ The Bostonians. I had never read The Bostonians, but Jim had, and he wanted to do it. I had just heard him talk about it. As it happened, we did James’ The Europeans in 1978 and only then The Bostonians in 1983. So projects stay in the mind. For about five years Jim has wanted to make a film about Thomas Jefferson in France—the five years when he was the American ambassador—and about his love affairs there, one of them with his own slave. That is a very big theme.

AK: How did your most recent project, a film version of Stephen Vizinczey’s novel An Innocent Millionaire, come to be abandoned?

IM: Well, one of the major studios wanted us to make the film. But everything there was done mechanically, and we were far removed from the process. What was the use of their hiring me as the producer, Jim as the director, and Ruth as the writer when whether the star got the girl was what they were thinking about? It’s fine to have people involved who want to express their ideas to make the project more interesting, but in this case it was as if we were talking with a committee. And because the studio was going to spend $17.5 million, they decided it had to be what is known as a “popcorn film.” A movie for popcorn-eaters is all well and good as long as you keep the integrity of the story and the characters, but to attract the popcorn they seemed not to mind losing all that, just throwing it away.

The film could have easily been made for 6 or 7 million dollars, including the star and very good salaries for us. But the studio’s whole thinking is affected by the fact that they are spending stockholders’ money—someone else’s money. If any of these studio heads were digging into their own pockets to spend $17.5 million, I bet you none of them would subscribe to that project. This is the reason for the state of Hollywood and the way it is today. Anyhow, we withdrew from the project. We refused to work on the ideas they wanted or for Ruth to rewrite the script. People always think you’re lucky when you get to Hollywood or when Hollywood takes you on. Well, for 25 years we’ve worked hard and established an identity, and it’s not for sale. There are some people who are not for sale. We’re not for sale. I’d rather have my $100 for a film, but at least I’ve made the film I wanted to make. I don’t want to make a film which is the product of some corporate committee sitting together and calculating that this is going to please about 200 million people. There is nothing wrong with making a film that will appeal to 200 million people. But those mindless films are not for us.

We remember films and talk about them because of what they communicate. People can speak to each other through this medium.

AK: What do you want to talk about in your movies that you haven’t?

IM: There is a lot I want to do. I want to make films about New York. Enough time has passed; next year I’ll have lived 30 years in this country. And I think that I am qualified at least to say certain things about this place that has affected me, and where the better part of my life has been spent. I always look from the optimistic point of view that I have another thirty years to make films. I don’t know whether the public will accept me for that long, but I hope so.


AK: You were born of Polish-Jewish parents in Germany and lived there in the ’20s and ’30s. You were a German in the U.K. in the ’40s, and a European in India in the ’50s and ’60s— the “wrong” religion, the “wrong” nationality, the dominant but minority race. It seems that you were always an outsider. Is that why you have now chosen to live in New York, which historically has always been a haven for everyone who doesn’t fit in elsewhere?

RUTH PRAWER JHABVALA: Yes, I find it easiest to live here. But on the other hand I’ve never fitted in anywhere because I haven’t really wanted to. I knew in England that since my great-great-grandparents hadn’t been born there I didn’t have a chance, so it just never occurred to me to try to fit—I took it for granted I was an outsider, and that was fine. And the same in India.

If anybody tries to fit me into anything I get mad, especially if anybody tries to put me in a category, like a category of writers—writers who write in English about India, for example. I hate being categorized; I just don’t want to be claimed by anyone. I suppose it’s part of one’s condition. But I do feel most comfortable here because the question of fitting in just doesn’t arise.

AK: You once said, “Not really having a world of my own, I made up for my disinheritance by absorbing the world of others.” This seems a perfect description of how a great deal of art and writing comes to be.

RPJ: When I write I often need to pretend to be something I’m not. In Heat and Dust, for instance, I was writing as if my heritage was Anglo-Indian, which it wasn’t at all. When I was in England I was pretty young, still a student, but even then I would always write from an English standpoint. Wherever I am, I just turn around and pretend I’m from there. In my latest novel, Three Continents, the central character is American.

AK: So you write from the place that you find yourself in, like a chameleon.

RPJ: Or like a cuckoo in somebody else’s nest, as I said in a lecture once. As a writer, that is; as a person I wouldn’t even try to fit.

AK: I was fascinated by the words you put into the mouth of your character Cyril, played by James Mason in Autobiography of a Princess [1975] that he never really understood India, and understood it less and less the longer he stayed. These sound like your words, and like your feelings.

RPJ: Yes, or like anybody’s who has stayed a long time in India without a total commitment. I had a commitment, but it wasn’t total. I stayed European. I lay in Delhi through all those hot summers reading Henry James and Proust. I wasn’t going to become part of India even if it had been possible, which it isn’t. As the years went by I became more and more European. And as a writer I never had much of a public in India; I was writing as a European, for Europeans, in the European tradition.

AK: You’ve said that dialogue in films is not important and that you’re cheerfully ready to cut out huge chunks of it. Is that true?

RPJ: Well, it is for me. “Not important” may not be the right expression. In a film a scene has to hold much more than what the actors actually say. You also convey feeling in film with expression, and atmosphere. The dialogue might even be misleading—the character might feel one thing and say something completely different. Dialogue can be a kind of surface thing. What matters is how it all works together. I think it’s the triumph of Merchant Ivory films that they cast them terribly well.

AK: Are you interested in being part of the casting group?

RPJ: Not in the least. I don’t know about actors—I don’t know many, and I would have no idea how they would come out on the screen from their everyday personalities. A film just doesn’t belong to me the way a book or story I write does.

AK: Do you initiate projects for filming?

RPJ: No, I have nothing to do with that. If I want to write something I’ll write a novel or a story, never a film. The film project is always something that Ismail or Jim wants to do and then if I like it I write it. My contribution to a film isn’t that big; even with an original script you’re so dependent on somebody else, a lot of other people. It’s the dependence problem. I really like to be on my own.

AK: I sometimes feel there is a lack of a large view in the Merchant Ivory films—except for Shakespeare Wallah, which deals obliquely with Britain’s loss of the Indian empire.

RPJ: I think Autobiography of a Princess even more so. And the Henry James novels certainly have a lot of content and significance. It’s not as if we were writing newspapers, or political commentary—we really like to approach life through the personal, maybe even the domestic, the everyday, and to try to put across our view that way. I’d rather start there and then open outward, adding layers and layers of significance, than start with something broad and then reduce it. We just don’t make that kind of film, nor do I write that kind of book.

AK: It seems to me that in your film scripts and in several of your short stories and novels you show a strong sympathy for young women who make unfortunate choices—Lizzie Buckingham, for example, in Shakespeare Wallah, Jenny in The Guru, Lucia Lane in Bombay Talkie. There is a large category of these women.

RPJ: Yes, true, but I wouldn’t characterize their choices as particularly unfortunate. I think they are all women with passion who want to find something, some ideal outside themselves. Of course life undermines them in some way, but I have all admiration for people who go out completely on some commitment and take themselves to the brink, as I think all these women do. I think I admire women like that because they do exactly the opposite of what I do—I’m extremely cautious, I never burn boats, bridges, anything. I like those who burn their boats and bridges.

AK: In Hullabaloo over Georgie and Bonnie’s Pictures _[1978] I had the impression that you were writing a gentle satire of your colleagues—Jim in the American connoisseur collector, Ismail in the Indian merchant who is the middleman.

RPJ: No, not at all—I mean definitely not Ismail. The only thing that is Ismail that I ever have written is in The Guru. And as for the collector—well, a bit of Jim, maybe, but others also. I didn’t have Jim particularly in mind.

AK: There is a strong comic element in many of your characters, in both your novels and films. In particular you take sideswipes at pompous, self important people—like gurus. In fact, you are pretty scathing about gurus in general. I’m thinking of the ashram scene in Bombay Talkie —extremely funny with the guru playing Ping Pong—or of The Guru itself, where Tom Pickle’s guru meets his own guru. I think that was really high comedy.

RPJ: I do have quite a scathing view of the usual kind of gurus who cash in on other people’s idealism. In principle I’d like to believe that there are people who can guide you when you need that, but in practice I find there are a lot of charlatans around who take advantage of other people’s search for something better. I have met one or two gurus who really gave something, both in and outside India—they are few and far between, though, and they’re not widely publicized, or they don’t widely publicize themselves. The public-relations ones are very suspect.

AK: You have received great honors as a writer—the MacArthur award here, Scotland’s Neil Gunn lecture, the Booker Prize in England, an Academy Award for the screenplay of A Room With a View. What do you think of this applause?

RPJ: Luck really. At school I didn’t even win a Bible. It might in part be because I’m seen as a kind of representative figure. I cover a lot of nationalities, a lot of countries, a lot of background. There are others like me with a mixed-up kind of background; we get attention. Lots of terribly good American or English writers never get enough recognition, but if you’re sort of international, you sometimes get more into the limelight.

AK: Do you read the critics?

RPJ: Most reviews are not for authors or filmmakers. They are there for the public to be told whether to go and see something or not. One really shouldn’t bother about them at all, and I try not to, but I’m afraid the flesh is weak and I sometimes do look more than I should.

AK: You chose not to be the one to adapt E. M. Forster’s book Maurice into a film script. Why was that?

RPJ: How could I? The subject is completely masculine. I’ve written on homosexuality before, but always from a feminine viewpoint. You know Jane Austen never, never wrote a scene of men alone together. I have written such scenes, but I feel much more comfortable if a woman is present, and I can write it from a woman’s point of view.

AK: You, Jim, and Ismail have all worked together for 25 years. What would you say are the most important efforts and the problems of collaboration?

RPJ: Well, I really don’t work with them that much in a literal sense. To write the script, I go off somewhere on my own. This is the way it is now, anyway. In earlier years, before we knew each other really well, Jim and I collaborated much more on the script. Now we generally discuss what we want to do and I go off and do it and I give it to him. Then he says Oh no, he doesn’t like this or that, can’t he have that, and I go off and do it again and he says the same thing again. This goes on till we have something more or less satisfactory. So I’m really working on my own, and then I give the screenplay to him for comment.

After Jim likes it, I fade out of the picture completely. I rarely go on the set, I don’t see the location, I don’t want to meet the actors. I do like to see a rough cut and to fiddle around a bit then, just to see that the story flows well, to see if anything more can be done with rearranging or strengthening scenes, or if there is more shooting to do. But during the actual filming there is no question of collaboration because I’m just not there. I’m physically in another country.

AK: That’s probably why you have all been such remarkable collaborators. You do and you don’t.