It’s difficult to remember the first time Steven Soderberg talked concretely about retirement, but it was probably back in 2011 when he claimed he’d do two more movies and then call it quits. This was after a harrowing (if not eye-opening) experience making Che in 2007 and before we got four more films from him. The latest, Side Effects, is in theaters February 8th, and he’s taken the occasion to speak openly with Vulture about making good on his threat to retire, the way that the finance system treats filmmakers and other savory topics. Without a doubt, it’s a must-read piece.
His reasons for retirement stay virtually intact, but it’s his brilliant analogy of creative input from the financiers that’s most surprising/refreshing:
“The worst development in filmmaking—particularly in the last five years—is how badly directors are treated. It’s become absolutely horrible the way the people with the money decide they can fart in the kitchen, to put it bluntly. It’s not just studios—it’s anyone who is financing a film. I guess I don’t understand the assumption that the director is presumptively wrong about what the audience wants or needs when they are the first audience, in a way. And probably got into making movies because of being in that audience.”
So, yes, go read more. There’s a ton to digest.
What’s most interesting is that Soderbergh was the first and is arguably the most successful of the Sundance revolutionaries from the late 80s and 90s, but his exit scenario is echoed by Kevin Smith and a few others — that there’s a natural ending you feel as a creator when you’re 1) tired of going through the motions and 2) aware that a certain amount of passion is gone.
On the topic of his legacy, he channels Orson Welles, saying he’s the bird and we’re the ornithologist.
Then again, he’s a rare species, and I hope he keeps flying a bit longer.