In "Hollywood's Best Film Directors," we go behind-the-scenes with some of Hollywood's biggest names. They talk about their lives and work, explaining what makes them so successful. The series includes heavy-hitters Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and M. Night Shyamalan, among others.
Narrator: This great Hollywood director started his career
and established his own unique style
with the surrealist black comedy "Delicatessen."
It was a huge success and received seven Caesar awards
and was nominated for a BAFTA.
He followed that up with the very ambitious
"City of Lost Children" starring Ron Perlman.
The film got the attention of the Hollywood studios,
and he was offered the chance to direct Sigourney Weaver
in "Alien: Resurrection."
His next project was the stirring romantic drama
"A Very Long Engagement,"
which tells a touching story of a fiancée
looking for her beloved during the First World War.
Later he would direct the magnificent family adventure
"The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet,"
starring Helena Bonham Carter.
But he will always be best remembered
for bringing to life that big, brown-eyed girl
who helps those around her in the streets of Paris.
My name is Jean-Pierre Jeunet, I'm a French film director.
You are watching "Hollywood's Best Film Directors."
I made "Amélie."
If you remember "Amélie."
You remember "Amélie"?
It was shot in the heart of Montmartre.
This is the reason my office is in Montmartre.
I was born in Roanne,
it's a small town close to Léon, in France.
I grew up in Nancy in eastern France
and my father worked at a telephone company.
My mother, at this time during the '50s,
the mother was used to work at home, to clean the home.
I just remember I was bored
and I wanted to escape, to leave,
and to engage in something.
The teacher were like the fascist guy.
Only punishment and no pleasure.
I quit very early because an event was very important for me.
I was probably 16, 15, and some friends of my parents
came at home with Super 8 camera.
And the guy said, "Okay, you can take it and try it."
So I remember, I can say I remember,
because it was a smell, it was a noise,
it was a texture of the camera.
It was a Bauer, a German Super 8 camera.
And I take it, I took it,
and I remember the sound as well.
[ Imitates camera ]
It was a vibration,
and -- Ah! -- it was a revelation,
like the music in a Monty Python movie.
[ Vocalizes ]
And I understood, "Okay, I just to buy a camera
and I will be a director" and I did it.
[ Speaking French ]
Some director, they say I learn cinema
when I went to the cinema that day.
It wasn't my case. I started to make at nine.
I was very, very young, and the first thing,
if I remember, I built a kind of theater play,
a small theater play, I built the set, the costume,
and I used some sort of mechanic puppets.
And I wrote the story.
I was nine and I have my parents to play,
so I was producer as well.
It was a first step.
I loved animation, reading some books and watching films.
I remember when I was at the telephone company,
I was building some electronic rooms in the east of France
in a small village.
One night I was in a café
because I was sleeping upstairs
and it was a football game on TV, and after the game,
the owner of the café changed the channel
and it was a free cartoon, free animation film,
short film on TV from [ Speaking French ]
A very old-fashioned TV.
And it was a revelation. I was stunned.
I was alone in the café watching the screen.
Luckily the guy changed the channel.
And it was a revelation and I thought "I can do that myself."
I don't need to know some people.
I don't need to have some director,
I can do it alone, myself, in my kitchen, and I did.
I have to say before I started to work
for animation with Marc Caro
because we met in Annecy Film Festival,
and he builds the puppets of my film,
and we decided to make a short TV live action.
So we wrote a scene, "The Bunker of the Last Gunshots"
or something like this,
and we made everything on set.
We were five tons of total crew, a war crew,
and I was director, I made the focus.
I made the editing, even the negative editing.
I cut the negatives myself with white gloves.
And I learned everything from that with just a few tools.
We were so poor that the budget was so low.
But it was a good lesson.
And after that, we decided to write a feature, of course,
but we were crazy.
"The Bunker," the short film, had a success.
We won some award.
Jeunet: So we wrote "The City of Lost Children,"
which was so expensive.
We were completely crazy.
We didn't have any idea the budget cost of the film.
And we were so naive.
We gave the script to a producer.
He said, "Oh, too expensive."
Okay, let's work on the one.
And we want maybe two, three movies.
And we were so naive.
[ Man speaking French ]
During the process when we were looking for a cheap story,
I was living in an apartment on the first floor
and underneath it was a butchery.
And every morning I could hear the noise
of the knife of the butcher cutting the meat, you know?
And my girlfriend at this time, she said, "Oh, it's time to move
because probably they kill the neighbor.
Now they kill the neighbor on the sixth floor.
The next week, it will be the fifth floor,
and in one month, it will be us.
So we have to leave." It was a joke, but I thought,
"Okay. It's a good joke, it's a good pretext for a film"
because it was an opportunity to shoot in the same place
with a few actors.
And luckily this film got a big success
because UGC was a producer.
They sold the film in one week in Cannes Film Festival
in every country.
It was a kind of gossip in Cannes
and everybody spoke about "Delicatessen"
and we got the big success everywhere.
[ Screams ]
If "The City of Lost Children" was not a disaster
but it wasn't a big success in France.
American people were stumped about the film
with so many visual effect,
we invented the software for the visual effect.
We were the first to mix in digital.
It was very new. So Hollywood was all interested
so they called me for "Alien: Resurrection."
I didn't want. I was ready to write "Amélie,"
so I didn't want to make on the Hollywood movie
but I was curious because I didn't speak
English at all at this time.
So I was curious to see a meeting
in a big studio to visit Hollywood too.
So I said, "Okay, let's do a meeting."
And, of course, during the meeting I said
"Why do you want to hire me. You have so many good director
You can choose everybody," you know.
And, of course, when you say that
they want you, and I stayed 10 days
instead of two days, and after 10 days
they called me to say, "You make the film."
So I was, "Oh! I don't want to make your Hollywood movie."
And I was sure I will be fired after two weeks.
And I took the airplane with British Airways,
and I was ready to hijack the airplane.
I don't want to go to Hollywood,
but luckily I came to New York
and I met Sigourney Weaver, and she was so warm with me,
so happy to to work with me.
So I started to make the film.
And after a while, it became my film.
I remember I said to the studio,
"If I make the film, I need to make a storyboard."
And they told me, "No, no, we don't have the time.
You have to start the next week. You're too late."
I said, "Okay, no problem. Bye bye."
And really I did that.
"Okay. Nice to meet you. I go back to Paris. Ciao!"
And they were stunned. Nobody did that.
They never did that before, you know.
And, "Okay let's give us a time to think,"
and two days after they said, "Okay, you have the storyboard."
"Amélie" was on my mind since a long time,
it was a kind of collection of so many ideas in my box.
My box is a computer, of course, a Macintosh,
but I had so many ideas
and I needed to find the theme of "Amélie."
And it was very difficult I took maybe one or two year
to find the main theme,
and in my notes it was a small idea.
The girl, not a girl.
Some people helping other people, because one day
I was in the center of Paris and I saw a guy.
He didn't have any legs. And he was in a box
like in a Western moving, you know, with wheels.
And it was so weird in the middle of Paris.
Maybe about, what, 15 years ago, and I thought,
"Oh, my God, maybe this guy has some friends
and they are so poor because they are freaks
and they don't have any future
and maybe their only passion
is to help other people in secret."
And I thought, "I think I have a good idea."
But, of course, I didn't want to use freaks
because that is a good film, Freaks
And I thought maybe it will be better
with a beautiful young lady.
The first reaction was from the Cannes Film Festival
and they didn't like it.
They said "It's a mistake.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet couldn't make this film.
We don't like it." So we were very disappointed.
because the first reaction we thought
maybe it would be a disaster. It wasn't a disaster.
And little by little it blew up, it was such an event in France.
Everybody were speaking about "Amélie" too.
Like now the place in Montmartre,
the neighborhood is so expensive because of "Amélie."
"Amélie" changed completely Montmartre.
And until now, 12, 13 years after the film,
you can go to the Café des Deux Moulins.
You see some people taking some picture every four minutes
13 years after.
So it was the dream for every directors.
When you make something very personal
and it becomes a huge success.
[ Speaking French ]
"A Very Long Engagement" was in my mind because I read the book
a long time ago.
But the writer of the book, of the novel,
it was Warner, I think. And it was so expensive,
I couldn't get the rights. It was impossible.
But because of the success of "Amélie,"
I could imagine to have the rights.
So I called Warner and they said "Yeah, yeah, yeah."
And they gave us a lot of money to make the film.
When we made the film, when we arrived every morning
with Bill Gerber, my DP, I remember we saw in the sky
a big crane for the lighting, a camera.
We thought, "Oh, we have big, big luck."
And the film was a huge success in France.
[ Screaming ]
It's about the First World War.
It was a kind of obsession for me when I was a teenager.
I read every book about the First World War,
don't ask me why, it was a kind of obsession.
And after that, I felt more relieved after that
because I spoke about the First World War.
When I came inside the trench
for the first time with the helmet on my head,
I had the feeling I knew that before.
And I made a lot of time with his joke,
but it probably not completely a joke.
I had a feeling I died during the First World War
and then was alive and I met some people even in America.
They told me exactly the same things,
the same feelings, twinge, with this twinge.
I love every step to make a film,
and preproduction, especially the casting.
I write my own script in films.
It's very important because it's honor the job.
It's different for me it says it's not my job
it's done as a comedy or as a work.
But I am able to do that. I love to write.
I'd love to to write and to make a film
because I couldn't make film every year
like Ridley Scott, for example.
It's so exhausting that I couldn't.
You know, it's a question of health, and I love to write
because you've spent half of the day
to build something with your hand in country
and at 4:00 or 5:00,
if you think about the scene of the day
and you are ready to write at 5:00.
I love earliest timing, and so after preproduction
is especially casting, I love the casting moment.
Huh? [ Laughs ]
[ Speaking in French ]
Jeunet: My first intention was Emily Watson, you know"
I saw her in "Breaking the Waves."
And she was ready to shoot the film, to learn French,
well, she had just one page of dialogue.
And after a while, she gave up for personal reason
and I had to find another actress.
And the second one I met was Audrey Tautou.
[ Conversing in French ]
Audrey Tautou made the test, and you can see the test
in the DVD, on the bonus of the DVD,
and you can understand after 10 seconds
I was hidden by a camera because I cried and I said
"Where do you come from, from another planet,
from Mars or what?" And she was a kind of E.T.
She was so amazing, so special, so inventive.
So she was Amélie immediately.
[ Glass shattering ]
[ Laughs ]
Marc Caro had the idea to hire Ron Perlman,
and we wrote to his agent
and, of course, every American agent
are the worst liar on Earth. It's known.
And he said, "No, no, he doesn't like the film. In the garbage."
We were a bit surprised.
So Jean-Jacques Annaud gave us his personal address,
we wrote directly to him, and he fired his agent.
He made the film. Yeah.
And, you know, the American agent,
you can imagine.
I love so much this guy.
I wanted him for "Alien: Resurrection."
And the studio wasn't so -- they were a little bit concerned
about he might not know why.
And I remember before the shooting was beef
of Ron Perlman. And this evening, a nice producer
he came on the stage
he said, "We saw the dailies, you were right, he's great."
It was very nice to do that.
Very reassuring for me and for Ron.
[ Laughs ]
Helena Bonham Carter, I met her in the shooting of "Fight Club"
because I knew David Fincher.
I visited the set.
And she was speaking French little bit and she told me,
"For you everything, when you want."
And when they read the novel of "T.S. Spivet,"
immediately at the first page I thought about her.
I think, "Oh, the mother.
It's for Helena."
And it was very simple,
I sent her the screenplay and she
made her a response very short,
"I am in love with the script."
And that's it. It was very simple.
[ Speaking French ]
Jeunet: On set, I love everything.
It's in my blood.
It's physically, I feel something hot in my blood.
The first time, the first day of shooting
on "Delicatessen," it was the first day
I was working with actors.
I made just a short film before, it wasn't the same thing.
And suddenly, I really I felt something.
"Oh, I love it."
It's the kind of feeling you can't explain.
For some directors to shoot is a pain,
it's a suffering. I don't understand.
Do another job because if it's not a pleasure,
why to suffer?
For me, every day, I sing when I go to the stage
maybe not for "Alien," because it was so tough.
Sometimes I missed the opening of those gates of the studio.
It's kind of mistake because of it.
I had the freedom, as I said, but it was tough.
But for my own film,
and it's very important I have the freedom, you know?
It's a very important concept.
There's a reason, for example,
a French and Canadian co-production to keep freedom
and to find that is very important.
I am very happy when I am completely responsible
about every decision, and in all my films
I have the complete responsibility of the film.
If it's good, it's me. If it's not good, it's me.
I just grab it in the most practical way.
I don't know what that is.
Every actors are different and Sigourney Weaver was different
because she's used to to make some theater play
and she loves to sit down on the floor,
to speak, to speak acting, and to find idea.
I remember the first day during rehearsal
when we were walking in a hotel.
I said, "Maybe you could --" and she said, "No, no,
I will tell you what I will."
I said "Okay, okay, okay."
Because, of course, she knew Ripley better than me,
she made for films before, and at this time I understood
"Okay, I will go in her way"
and I brought some ideas on her way and she was very happy,
it was a very good version.
Winona Ryder was different.
She was young, she was 26 at this time,
and she was tired because she was like an old actress.
She was laid down on the floor, showing the double how to play,
and sometime, you know, she walked down the corridor,
or she opened the door.
It wasn't so great for her, but she was okay.
She was -- I remember one day, the alien wasn't finished,
and so I told her,
I have to explain, it will be a monster, a slimy monster.
And I said -- She said, "No, be cool. Be preoccupied.
I will show you different things."
And she made.
It was stupid on the set, and after the editing
everything worked. I couldn't show them the best.
The day after I had made some compliment.
I said, "You were great" and she said,
"What are you talking about? I do my job and that's it."
You know, it was so simple for her.
"Amélie" tells the story of a girl helping other people
because she feels alone, she's very shy.
And she decides to help other people in secret
and she wins -- what, again is that the love, of course.
But it's a romantic story and it's about
hope and it's a feel-good movie some sort of way.
It's not easy to make something like this
without to be too much sugary and tacky
and it was very experimental, by the way.
For example, the 20 first minutes
she speaks to the audience with a voiceover.
She speaks to the audience before voiceover.
A French director said he makes everything
you can do to avoid in the film. And it works."
So it was very experimental. We won a lot of our awards,
we had five nomination at the Oscars.
We didn't won some Oscar, unfortunately
because it was a year
which Miramax was boycotted by the Oscars
because everybody knows what Harvey Weinstein does
to win some Oscars.
And this year, Hollywood said finished.
And it was the year Whoopi Goldberg
made the presentation, and she'd make some jokes
all along the ceremony with Harvey Weinstein.
So we had 19 nomination and we won just one Oscar
and "Amélie" didn't win anything like.
[ Screaming ]
Marion Cotillard, I saw in different French films,
immediately I understood something interesting
was the emotion scenes
and she had just three days of shooting, three or four days
of shooting in "A Very Long Engagement,"
and she came for the scene
and she was so stressed because you have to do,
to give everything in one day, you have two days,
and it's stressful because you have a crew,
you know, they work together since months and months
and months, you arrive suddenly
and it was very stressful.
So she was sick and she had to go to the hospital.
So we took advantage to cut her head because
she had the death penalty in the film,
and we cut the head of the double, not her
because she was at the hospital, and the hospital called us
to say "she's not sick it is a stress."
So she came back and we shot
and she was so great she won the French César.
And it was a big event for her career,
it helped her a lot.
And I'm very proud about that.
Jodie Foster was a big surprise
because she called me at home in my America --
My wife is American. She's from San Francisco.
I met her on "Alien: Resurrection".
She was a God for her and she couldn't believe
she had -- Jodie Foster had the phone.
We had an appointment as the Café des Deux Moulins.
And it was a very funny story
because at the end of the appointment
we were waiting for a cab outdoor on the sidewalk
and a bunch of young guys,
French guys arrive to take a picture of the café.
Like every four minutes, as I said.
And Jodie and me, we were between the café
and there was a girl
and we did not know if they recognize us,
you know, and the girl. I swear it's true.
She she said, "Okay, please, please, can you."
I would say probably "La Dolce Vita" from Fellini.
I recently watched it again.
It is very long but such a masterpiece.
"Night of the Hunter" probably and from Martin Scorsese,
is difficult to choose, probably "Taxi Driver."
And Coppola, "The Godfather."
It's a cliche but it's true.
It's a lot of old French film from the '40s.
I am a big fan about Marcel Carné
and Jacques Prévert, "Children's Paradise."
That is still my favorite.
My favorite "Le Quai des Brumes."
About my movies is difficult to say because one day,
it's "Amélie," probably at any time really because
it's a more personal movie, it was such a big adventure.
But sometimes when I watch "A Very Long Engagement,"
I like it and some time when I rewatch my film,
I am completely depressed, I only see a defect,
So it depends on your moods.
It depends on mood.
But in the order I would say "Amélie,"
"A Very Long Engagement." Maybe.
Maybe "Delicatessen." I don't know,
it depends on the day.
The shy with spirit.
The style, it's very important to have a style.
Important, some director not have a style.
I was speaking about Ang Lee or Roman Polanski.
They don't have a real style,
but they are very good directors.
And somewhere I prefer a director
like Tim Burton and Fellini and David Lynch.
They have a strong style.
You can recognize a Tim Burton movie
after five minutes, two minutes.
And I think it's my case. The danger is you can --
People can be tired sooner
when compared, when you don't have a style.
You know what I mean? Because, "Oh, Tim Burton,
he does all the time the same thing.
Ah, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, one more time a shy with spirit,"
This is the danger. But I love when you love a director.
Of course, you don't like the style.
But I love to do to recognize a style,
because there are so many directors.
[ Crowd shouting ]
My best advice -- be original.
Take your camera, take a computer, and make some films.
Don't listen to a advisor don't listen to a master
or the guru of the script,
for example, they travel everywhere in the world
to teach you how you have to --
what do we have to make to write a script.
Don't listen to them, be original.
Make the opposite.