“…If They Don’t Bleed in Front of Camera, Then Usually They’re Sort Of Always Right”: Gus Van Sant On Cinematography, His Actors, and Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot

Filmmaker Magazine | 2/8/2019 | Aaron Hunt
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by Aaron Hunt

Gus Van Sant won’t settle and his insatiable itch to reinvent himself hasn’t ebbed. Years working in, out, and around the studio system have offered him ample opportunity to normalize, and, occasionally, he’s adopted the opportunity, if only to do something different (as only different could be his “norm”) once more. Even his deliberate efforts to direct something “standard” tend to tinge off-kilter, with his itch to experiment crackling just under frame.

Re-invention - Worry - Get - Far - Foot

His latest re-invention, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot, which has its streaming premiere today on Amazon Prime, wiggles somewhere in between Van Sant’s oeuvre of odds, ends, and in-betweens. Marketed as a biopic in the same vein as his awards laden Good Will Hunting and Milk (the two films the trailer credits him for), the film is dramatically unperturbed, weird, and aesthetically feral in ways its advertising decides not to relate. Pulled from a few chapters of the late John Callahan’s (the Portland, Oregon based quadriplegic cartoonist) memoir, Van Sant casts Callahan’s story with star-power in the shoes of his hometown people. And when it comes to Jonah Hill, Jack Black or, as Callahan, Joaquin Phoenix, you’ve never seen these actors used like this.

In an attempt to tie Van Sant’s eclectic work together, we discuss, in broad terms, his approach to camera language as it relates to ctors and performance.

Filmmaker - Something - Zooms - Camera - Camera

Filmmaker: You’re doing something unorthodox with documentary zooms here, but it would be limiting to describe them as just that. When the camera does roam, it seems to roam more deliberately than a documentary camera and with an awareness of those techniques.


Van Sant: I wanted to do that because I had been thinking about the stylistic development in the ’80s when people started to use handheld cameras in [narrative films] more. It made them...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Filmmaker Magazine
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