Director Chris Weitz has made it as far as he can go. After lackluster showings with his first few films, co-writing Antz and directing American Pie, Down to Earth, About a Boy and The Golden Compass, the latter of which he says was taken away from him by the studio and cut into a movie that he wasn’t very proud of, Weitz is hanging up the headphones soon after the release of his next movie, The Twilight Saga: New Moon. But Weitz, in what can be said is the only smart move of this whole deal, isn’t making New Moon his last film. According to his interview with MovieMaker Magazine, he’s got one more project that he’d like to complete before he surfs off into directorial retirement.
“It’s a script by Eric Essen called The Gardener,” he explained. “It’s sort of an homage to The Bicycle Thief. The intention is that we will shoot half in Spanish, half in English, in Los Angeles. On the one hand it’s a very small, intimate story, but its implications are very grand. I’m always looking for my last film, where I can put the brush down, and this is the one…It’s a beautiful story…I feel that I have now spent a decade of my life in training to know how to make films—how to accomplish every aspect of it—and I feel that if I were to do this one film, I’d feel okay just sitting back and reading. I’d really like to read some books.”
That sounds like an interesting enough project, and Weitz is a capable enough director — I can’t say that I loved either Antz or The Golden Compass, but neither was a terrible movie. And About a Boy was a damn good film. So why hang it up? As Weitz explains, his frustration with the industry has boiled over, mostly because of the studio interference that occurred during post-production on Compass. “I wanted that to be my masterpiece,” admits Weitz. “Unfortunately, the edit was taken from me and whatever chance I had at that was also taken from me, which is kind of sad.”
So what is a former mediocre director to do with himself once he’s done making a Twilight movie and an homage to The Bicycle Thief (when you say it like that it just sounds wrong, doesn’t it?) Weitz says that he’s going to take a lot of time off, maybe become a better surfer. Seriously, it’s an answer that doesn’t sound spoiled, bratty or elitist one bit. Check it out:
“You know, it sounds ridiculous, but I’d really like to be a better surfer,” laughs the director. “I’d like to learn to speak Spanish fluently; I’d like to travel around, live in Italy; I’d like to learn kung fu… It’s nice to make movies, but it’s also really hard.”
Yes Chris, it does sound ridiculous. Please get over yourself and make more movies. Improve your craftsmanship and you won’t have studios taking away your films in post-production, nor will you be relegated to directing shallow tweenie-bopper vampire movies.