Steven Soderbergh created an independent film explosion in the 90′s with his Sundance hit, Sex, Lies and Videotape. He inspired a generation of filmmakers and established Sundance as America’s showcase for independent films. Since then, he has directed 26 films with his latest, Side Effects, now in theaters. Apparently, 26 films is enough and Soderbergh talks to Vulture about why he’s done directing for the ‘cinema’.
It’s a combination of wanting a change personally and of feeling like I’ve hit a wall in my development that I don’t know how to break through. The tyranny of narrative is beginning to frustrate me, or at least narrative as we’re currently defining it. I’m convinced there’s a new grammar out there somewhere. But that could just be my form of theism…If I’m going to solve this issue, it means annihilating everything that came before and starting from scratch. That means I have to go away, and I don’t know how long it’s going to take. And I also know you can’t force it. I love and respect filmmaking too much to continue to do it while feeling I’m running in place. That’s not a good feeling. And if it turns out I don’t make another one, I’m really happy with this last group of movies. I don’t want to be one of those people about whom people say, “Wow, he kind of fell off there at the end.” That would be depressing.
While starting out in the industry at 26 years old, he’s seen the independent film model rise and fall, at least in the terms of launching careers and theatrical film distribution. He doesn’t think we’ll return to the old days any time soon.
It would be hard because movies cost so much to market. I’m encouraged by Video on Demand, which is a very promising distribution method. But it’s much harder for filmmakers now. You’re sort of expected to emerge full-blown. That’s rare. Some people do, but I didn’t. Like I said, you can’t make five films in a row that nobody sees. You’d be in movie jail. I feel really lucky that I got to make the mistakes I made and still get to do Out of Sight.
Since changing the direction of his career, Soderbergh’s taken up painting, distributing Brandy, and admiring American comics and pet food. He doesn’t have much hesitation about stepping away from Cinema.
I’m really looking forward to reading a book, finishing it, and picking up another one.