Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Thoughts From Herzog

Every month, and probably the single reason why I get the magazine, Esquire runs a column titled “What I’ve learned.” The column features several different people from all walks of life. One month it could be a chef, the next a firefighter, the next an actor and so on. The answers are simple and some have brilliant insight. I remember reading about a chef who had said “if you want to get your kids to listen, whisper instead of yelling. Whenever I whisper, they lean in to hear what I’m saying.” This month, they featured director Werner Herzog. And as usual, he had some wonderful things to say which I would like to share with you now. I’m saving you $3.50. That’s $4.50 for you Canadians.

I do not make documentaries or features. My films are something else.

I was shooting a film with an entire cast of midgets, and one caught on fire and was run over by a car. He was completely unhurt, and I was so astonished, I told the cast that if they all escaped filming unscathed, I would jump into a cactus for their amusement. And they did, so I jumped into a cactus.

I do not know why people who are in love do what they do.

Why America? I got married.

Los Angeles is the city with the most substance in the United States – cultural substance. There is a competition between New York and Los Angeles, but New York only consumes culture and borrows it from Europe. Things get done in Los Angeles.

School has not given me anything. I have always been suspicious of teachers. I do not know why.

If I opened a film school, I would make everyone earn their tuition themselves by working. Not in an office – out where there is real life. Earn it as a bouncer in a sex club or as a warden in a lunatic asylum. And travel on foot for three months. And do physical, combative sports, like boxing. That makes you more of a filmmaker than three years of film school. Pura vida, as the Mexicans say.

I was shot a year ago. It did not impress me because I have been shot at before. Once, with an elite unit of insurgents crossing over from Honduras into Nicaragua, we came under fire in the middle of the river, which was unpleasant because we were so visible and the jungle hid the shooters.

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