I am kicking off our new web-series, featuring scenes that did not make the final cut of both The Man on Lincoln’s Nose and Something’s Gonna Live. Sometimes your best scenes hit the cutting room floor because they simply compete with the film as a whole. Thank goodness for YouTube and the opportunity to share these great scenes with our audience.
Episode I: Robert Boyle on Edward Hopper is one of my personal favorites.
In 1998, I was inspired to make a movie about my teacher at the AFI Conservatory, the late production designer Robert “Bob” Boyle (North by Northwest).
In preparation for filming the documentary, I spent about a year recording and transcribing research interviews and conversations with Bob. I was still a film student at the time and faced with the challenge of learning about Bob’s life, the history of production design, his approach to the craft, as well as the daunting task of learning to write and shoot a documentary!
It took me about a year of focused research and interviews to come up with something resembling an outline. The highlight and turning point was Christmas 1998, when I gave Bob a book of Edward Hopper paintings.
Bob thumbed through the pages of the book, pausing to explain how Hopper’s paintings of small businesses and shops in New York City (“Early Sunday Morning”) and a women sitting alone on a bed, bathed in light (“Morning Sun”) are depictions of the “penultimate moment.” Bob describes the penultimate moment as “The moment before or after something actually happens. It’s the moment of contemplation.”
I asked Bob to recount a “penultimate moment” from his own work: he selected the crop-dusting sequence from North by Northwest. In The Man on Lincoln’s Nose, Bob pulls back the curtain to reveal the secret that makes that sequence so powerful, followed by the pronouncement that “One of the problems with a lot of films now is that we’re dealing with too many climaxes, rather than the penultimate moments—which are more interesting.”
I hope you enjoy the first installment in our web-series and invite you to share your thoughts in the Comments section below. For those interested in learning more about Bob Boyle and work, The Man on Lincoln’s Nose is now available for a limited time as a free 720p digital download. (Check out the widget in our side bar.) Thanks for watching!