Part 7: Seeing the Movie, Logistics

Part 7: Seeing the Movie, Logistics So now there's a bit of a black hole, paper-trail wise. (We had not yet decided to do this blog, so weren't keeping very careful records.) After we learned that Kaufman would participate -- and the requisite hour of high-fiving -- we got cracking. The film opens Oct 24, which means we had to get it into our November issue (which hits newsstands October 21). That gave Jason only a few weeks to research and write a rough draft.

Our first order of business: See the movie. Sony was hosting a press screening of Synecdoche in Los Angeles on August 6--the day after we heard from Kaufman--so Jason and Nancy went down to check it out. As soon as they left the theater, they began discussing the film, and how to make it work for WIRED. Honestly, they had some concerns. The movie itself is staunchly anti-commercial. It had already received some mixed reviews at Cannes, and had trouble finding a US distributor. It was hard for them to imagine that it would make as big a splash as Kaufman's earlier hits. That is a bit of a quandary for a magazine like ours. Generally, we want to give space to movies that will generate a ton of buzz and excitement. This movie very well might be just too tough for the majority of filmgoers. How do we write about a film that has a very real possibility of failing? (It's worth clarifying that this discussion had nothing to do with our own judgment about the movie's artistic merits. It was purely a commercial conversation.)

After a long discussion, they decided that the movie's difficulties could actually make the story more interesting. You have to admire Kaufman for taking such a huge risk, picking such a difficult film with which to make his directorial debut, and writing and directing something that he had to know might alienate many of his fans. That might provide the tension that could drive the piece.

So Jason made plans to meet with Kaufman, and he and Nancy continued emailing about logistics, story shaping, etc.

On 8/11/08 2:07 PM, "Nancy Miller" <Nancy_Miller@wiredmag.com> wrote:
So, the plan as I understand so far, is:

You're meeting him tomorrow at Figaro. Then you go back into the editing room early next week, then you do a phone follow-up, is that right?

On 8/11/08 2:08 PM, "Jason Tanz" <Jason_Tanz@wired.com> wrote:
Well, phone follow-up isnt' down in writing, but I'll try to finagle that, yes.

On 8/11/08 2:11 PM, "Nancy Miller" <Nancy_Miller@wiredmag.com> wrote:
Ok. And, how are you feeling about your angle? I know we batted around a few ideas right after the screening. My one concern is that lunch and editing room is pretty standard director profile stuff. Is that something you want to play off of?

On 8/11/08 2:16 PM, "Jason Tanz" <Jason_Tanz@wired.com> wrote:
I think I feel pretty good about the angle. I mean, who knows, but I came up with some cool ideas over the weekend, ways of framing this while also making him wired.

That being said, I don't think we're going to get super-amazing scenes here. We just aren't. But I'm hopeful that we'll get some good quotes and scene-setting and that will be enough to carry us through. And I always leave open the possibility of writing about these negotiations themselves, which as you suggest will make the banality of the scenes a feature rather than a bug. In the end, though, I don't want to depend on him giving us really exciting stuff.

On 8/11/08 2:38 PM, "Nancy Miller" <Nancy_Miller@wiredmag.com> wrote:
Ok. Sounds like you've got a plan so, I look forward to hearing about it when you get back. No, I'm dying to hear about it when you get back. I wonder what he's going to eat. I wonder if people recognize him!
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