I’ve never forgotten an alleged Francois Truffaut quote about his concept of success. In 1957 at age 25, Truffaut launched a production company, Les Films du Carrosse, and went on to produce 35 films. (Truffaut died in 1984 at age 52.) What he said was that “when one of our films goes into profit, we open a bottle of champagne.”

From a 2016 American perspective, that’s an attitude of a loser, a small-timer, a producer who doesn’t have what it takes. But I think it’s great. Because it tells you that all Truffaut and associates wanted was enough profit to stay in the game. Because they loved making films, and the process of making them was its own reward.

I think we all understand that Dwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel and Zack Snyder, who are emblematic of a kind of cancer in today’s film industry, couldn’t understand Truffaut’s attitude.

Yesterday Gael Garcia Bernal (Neruda) articulated a similar fraternal philosophy during a opening-night event at the Morelia Film Festival:

“There’s a culture of friendship in Latin American cinema, between people like Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro, which they in turn inherited from others. They’re a sensation of brotherhood, that people care about you, look after you, which we’ve sought to maintain consciously. That ‘brotherhood’ is the best way to survive, to make better films, but it also a way of coming close to the biggest reason to make films.

Filmmaking for me is like a fraternal act, like being with your family, and feeling that what we’re doing, when the film is over and makes some impact, is worth it. That intense encounter with all those people flowers, emanates forever. You’re a kind of cousin, brother, lover, father or son of all those people with whom you’ve worked. It’s a beautiful sensation.”

  • pjm

    In Hollywood it’s the other way around – every time someone makes a work of art, they open a bottle of champagne to toast getting one past the suits.

  • Brad

    Truffaut was a tremendous filmmaker. I recently watched 400 Blows again, it breaks my heart every time, especially that last shot on the beach.

    • Regular Joe

      Greatest freeze/zoom in in film history?

      • Joe.Leydon


      • Brad

        Yes. It is searing into the soul.

    • thevisitor967

      My favorite film of all time.

  • Regular Joe

    I’m not buying into this. I just watched the DE PALMA film. In it, he mentions how close he and Steven Spielberg were when they were both young and getting success. Lots of pics of him with Scorsese, etc.

    I’m also reading a memoir by Stanley Kubrick’s personal driver/assistant who worked closely with him for about 30 yrs. Despite his laser focus on his own projects, he was intensely interested in what other directors were working on and no one made event films as big and stout (and so intimate) as Kubrick.

    I think filmmaking is, obviously, a collaborative art. It’s not something just one person can do and usually takes a few to many people to pull it off. I have no doubt in such close quarters affection and camaraderie can grow as well as discontent.

    I think success is what tears people apart when the start to live in their own, insulated world. It doesn’t always happen but it cn happen and it seems that it happens most of the time even to those with the best intentions.

    Constantly, you lament the whole comic book/action centered Hollywood machine productions. I suppose to stay relevant a blogger has to cover “it all” to stay in the “hip and now” but I don’t envy you having to.

    I guess I would focus on what makes me happy if I had your gig and that would be smaller films, older films, even non-HBO TV shows that you claim to not bother with for superficial reasons (not getting into any of that here. Moving on…). However, I guess that wouldn’t pay the bills around here.

    Oh well, plenty to distract. I just got in a great shipment of Criterion Blus that I picked up on their 50% flash sale earlier this week and plan to tear into them between bouts of reading, napping, receiving good birthday wishes from friends, family.

    Funny how as I get older, I don’t want to hear “Happy Birthday” from anyone who I don’t love or I know loves me. The other day, a lady I irk with said, jokingly, that I was a “grumpy old man (even though I am a few years younger than her).” Felt like a badge of honor.

    • pjm

      That was the laziest documentary I think I’ve ever seen. Baumbach & Paltrow used their connections to get DePalma to sit down for a couple of hours and just had him talk chronologically about his movies. No other interviews, no other viewpoints, no discussion, no perspective, not even any interesting questions. Just a flat medium shot of DePalma saying whatever he wanted to say about his films, one after the other. Lazy, simple-minded “filmmaking”.

      • Regular Joe

        I do agree with you on technique. I’m no De Palma fanboy but I was lee to hear some of his remarks. IIRC, the nearly hour long chat with Baumbach he did on the BLOW OUT Blu is much more focused and better.

  • Process and “brotherhood” are not the only alternate motivations to profit. It may be sufficient for plumbers and electricians, but not for an architect.