I think we shot somewhere around forty hours for The War Room. D.A.:
There's sort of a point where you get bored, and it's usually about forty hours. I think the film Don't Look Back was forty hours, but some films where they have a little repeat built into them that you didn't expect, like Moon Over Broadway (1998), they kept changing the script so we'd have to reshoot all the rehearsals because we'd never see the old ones again. [Moon Over Broadway is a film chronicling the opening of the Broadway play, starring Carol Burnett.] So that took a lot more film shooting than we may have thought we would do, so you're always prepared for that . . . always prepared a little to be surprised. And then The Energy War took a lot more, because it just went on and on. They couldn't get the goddamn bill through either the House or the Senate, so it went on forever. But some, like Company: Original Cast Album (1970), were lovely. [Company is a film about the cast recording of Sondheim's musical.] It all happened in one night, except for one more roll. So in that time you can only shoot so much. You shoot as fast as you can load. Certain stories have limitations built into the story.
For Startup, we shot an incredible amount of video, mostly because we were bored to just sit around, and it's kind of fun with little cameras so you might as well shoot. This was one tiny aspect of it, but I think we shot around four hundred hours so you can see it's amazingly different, but also because Jehane felt like she just wanted to shoot anything. That was her first film.
But also I kept telling them she was sort of setting off on a Proustian voyage here, and in the beginning I thought maybe I should discourage her. I'm sure I kept saying, "You just can't shoot that way." And it's true—you don't have time to even edit that much material; you have to wade through it and get rid of material. You don't have that much time to do it. So it's got drawbacks, but, at the same time, it had a peculiar quality of examination that I thought was amazing, and the more I saw it the more I saw what she was doing, or the two of them were doing. I realized that that was the only way to make that film, and that it was a new kind of film for us. And we had to find the physics rules that applied to something with that much material because you don't want to keep going back and making the same old film. They were going off into new ground, which I thought was really fascinating. I think you could make a ten-hour film out of that; that would be interesting to a very limited audience, but limiting nonetheless because it's so, it's like Proust. It's so real and it's so new that I think people would be intrigued to find out what there is to find out there in that world.
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