Walter Hill Chapter 9


INT: We know you came into the GUILD as an assistant, you obviously came in as a director on HARD TIMES right?
WH: Yeah I came in I think 1967, bumped up in '74. [INT: What is your feelings and experience? How do you feel about it?] I like to think I'm a strong fella for the GUILD. It's our greatest protection against an industry which against its own best interests wants to reduce films to a mechanical level. I said this before, I think the highest achievement on film are direct extensions, you do not make things better than a director's sensibility. God knows they've tried. I think the GUILD is the greatest protector of those who have a hard time fighting back. When your career is in a good position you can take care of yourself. But the best guarantor of work conditions and post production conditions, creative rights, my own problems on the film we talked about. They first told me I couldn't take my name off, GUILD backed me up. They told me if I took my name off they wouldn't pay the balance I owed and I would have to forfeit my rights on the line, the royalties and residuals. They ended up on all fronts losing those fights and lost them because of the GUILD's persistence. It's not that the GUILD has been good for me I think the GUILD has been good for all of us. It's the best we have to make the working conditions of our members tolerable. I think it works for the ultimate good of the finished film.


INT: Do you feel that there has been a diminution of the director, not in the GUILD but generally speaking in the industry, do you feel they are trying to shrink the influence of the director?
WH: I think that there are two things. The kind of superstar director has never received more publicity than they do at the moment. The vast majority of directors have rights that are much imperiled not only by attitudes of the executives in charge, but by certain technological improvements that I think especially in post production, the new systems for editing and getting films out, both sound and the picture, have worked against the creative position of the director. Makes executives feel they can handle all this. Again you can make something that looks like finished product easily. But finished product should really be a reflection of the series of ideas that go into it. Not simply a mechanical wide shot then close up. Ownership will almost inevitably be concerned about content. A director's job is to get the film beyond content and into a harder to define and higher area of mood and emphasis, and meaning to the audience.