Bubble, or the Three Faces of Steven Soderbergh

Most of the press (and blogging) on Steven Soderbergh’s Bubble — which will be released in theaters and VOD tomorrow, and on DVD Tuesday — concerns the film’s collapsed release window. Important stuff, no doubt, but in the interests of counter-programming I thought I’d give a few words to the fact that this is now the second feature (after Solaris) that Soderbergh has directed, shot, and edited. It’s curious to me that few people have noted this fact, especially when it’s so rare in mainstream Hollywood productions.

Personally, I won’t be surprised if, at some point, Soderbergh eventually does everything for his films: craft services, acting in all the roles, hand-delivering the DVDs for Blockbuster to sell. Come to think of it, if he does everything then catering will be easy. He’ll just take himself out to lunch.

Anyway, until that time comes, here’s an interesting interview that was published in Film Comment around the time of Traffic, Soderbergh’s first film as Director and Director of Photography. This exchange in particular suggests that the experience of making that film prepared him for “experiments” like Bubble.

Why did you decide to shoot the film yourself which entailed having to go to the trouble of qualifying as cinematographer?

    Because the conversations on the set — “I want to do this,” “Are you sure you really want to do that?” — would have taken up hours.

Haven’t you worked with a DP who trusts you implicitly at this point?

    I have, but part of it is that if the DP were anyone else, it would have been very hard for me to convince the people paying for the movie not to fire them, really. What the fuck is this guy doing? But if it’s me, they assume there’s a methodology there that’s going to pay off. Are they going to call me and say, You’ve got to fire yourself? I’ve worked with some very good cameramen, and obviously I’ve learned a lot. I watched what they were doing very closely.

Will you go back to working with a DP in the future?

    I don’t think so. It would be hard for me and for whoever I hired. It’s a compromise in a way. There are numerous cameramen who are better than I am, and the opportunity to learn from them is lost. On the other hand, the speed with which I feel we are able to work and the intimacy it provides are worth it.

[I]n each film since [Out of Sight], your stock has risen higher.

    Let’s put it this way. It’s pretty clear to me that working as a director for hire agrees with me. I like it. The films that have come out of that, I personally like better than the ones that didn’t. However, that other stuff will need to come out occasionally. My m.o. is gonna be, when that happens, to do it for $250,000 instead of $10 million. Which I can do without a problem. I literally have the equipment and I can go do that anytime — and I will.

For full coverage of Bubble, check out the unofficial Soderbergh website (which he probably manages under yet another pseudonym).

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