“If you’re going to make movies for yourself, you better love your shit. You better get off 24/7 to your own movies … and that’s what I do,” said Quentin Tarantino to a hooting crowd at the Arlington Theatre last Thursday. Tarantino might be the only person on this earth who can say such vulgar, arrogant things and get away with it.
He’s an unconventional film director who is darn good at what he does. So he’s allowed to obsess over “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs” whenever they appear on HBO or Cinemax … and if that obsession gets a little frisky, well, whatever. It’s Tarantino. He does what he wants. As anybody who went to the SBIFF America Riviera Award Ceremony could tell you, that night everyone at Arlington realized (if they hadn’t already) that Quentin Tarantino is indeed The Shit.
Fun facts about Tarantino: He was a student of Sundance (that’s where “Reservoir Dogs” premiered in 1992), he writes his films all out on paper first with a pen because you can’t write poetry on a computer and he’s had the idea for “Django Unchained” for nine years. Sometimes when he writes, he plays an old record and pretends that he’s in a theater watching the scene with an audience to get a feel for the future. He is pretty blunt and announced to Arlington midway through the interview, “Before we watch these clips, I’ve really got to take a piss.” What a champ.
Tarantino’s most important thing when writing a movie is that he wants to exceed expectations: “I don’t want to do an artful meditation on genre. I want to deliver the goods and transcend the genre.”
He loves talking about his writing process, hates talking about his movie violence and hasn’t been so hot with the press lately so he didn’t want to walk the red carpet … darn. He also was genuinely shocked that there was a full house at the Arlington, given the fact that his award was subbed in last minute since Leonardo DiCaprio couldn’t make it.
“Thanks everyone for coming out! I had no idea this was such a big deal … and I’m rather taken aback by all of this good will and love.” For the record, neither Jennifer Lawrence nor the Virtuosos prescribed any serious gratitude for the audience. Points for Tarantino.
Whenever he does a film, he writes out the first half of the story, but then lets his characters fulfill their role and help mold where it’s going to go next. “I knew at some point that in ‘Kill Bill’ Uma was going to kill Bill,” said Tarantino (ain’t he clever), “but I had no idea about all the other middle stuff. Half the stuff was stuff Uma said to me on set — the expressions, opinions, and motions.”
Uma Thurman is one of Tarantino’s favorites. The other is Samuel L. Jackson, who he refers to as Sam. Tarantino LOVES Sam Jackson. He accidentally writes screenplays for Sam Jackson because he can’t help it.
“Actors are not there to riff. They are here to say my dialogue … but Sam Jackson is the exception,” said Tarantino. “He writes like how I write — it’s like water. When I asked if he does this with all his movies, he was like ‘Fuck no. I do this for you because I give a shit!’”
If Sam Jackson, who was pronounced the highest-grossing film actor of all time in October 2011, cares that much about Tarantino, there must be something to this guy, the man who gets off to his own movies.
When it comes down to it, Tarantino admits that he’s still just a writer trying to make a good page. He believes that screenwriting is all about expressing himself artistically.
His advice for those who want to become equally badass screenwriters? “Real writers aren’t result oriented. The important thing is the doing of it. The process. The getting there. The journey is EVERYTHING. So live the part and don’t try to predetermine too much.”
Well said, Tarantino. Well said.
A version of this article appeared on page 8 of January 7th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.