November 14, 2011

From the Abyss to SCA

Werner Herzog Visits with Students

When filmmaker Werner Herzog visits the USC School of Cinematic Arts, the students can expect brutal honesty mixed with sound advice. On November 9th, when the legendary filmmaker spoke at a Q and A after a screening of his new documentary Into the Abyss, he was as candid as ever.

Renov and Herzog in the Ray Stark Theatre
When Dr. Michael Renov, the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, told him, “Your documentaries are remarkable.”
Herzog said plainly, “They’re OK. Fortunately, I like what I do.”
Herzog was visiting as part of SCA’S Outside the Box(Office) series. Renov moderated the evening.  Herzog’s new film chronicles the experience of a death row inmate and delves into the normal themes of Herzog’s work including time, death and mortality.
When Herzog was asked what his advice for aspiring film students would be, he repeated the word “read” eleven times until the audience was applauding.  “If you’re not reading, you will never be a good filmmaker,” said Herzog. “No one reads. I’m speaking against a wall of cotton.”
Herzog also gave advice on tackling controversial topics such as the death penalty.
“There are issue films that have their time and place,” said Herzog. “I like to invent. At heart, I’m a feature filmmaker. I’m more interested in telling people’s fantasies than telling facts. I want to take the audience along with me into the wildest fantasies. Facts can, at best, create norms. Truth can create illumination or ecstasy.”
Herzog is known in the entertainment industry for his unique work ethic and for his ability to bring art films to a commercial audience. He told the students that his main secret to success was making strong decisions.
“You see it in editing,” Herzog said. “I see directors who edit twenty-two parallel versions of a sequence and, in the end, they don’t know which one is best. I go through once and I always go straight to final cut. I edited films like Grizzly Man in nine days. I did Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans, right after. I was under contract to stage an opera in Spain. During filming I was already editing and I delivered the final cut two weeks after wrapping.”
For more information on Into the Abyss, please click:
For more information on Outside the Box(Office), please visit: