Mel Gibson Talks Hollywood, Directing, Vikings, Television, Richard Donner And Gary Oldman


Mel Gibson is on his way back. He’s just wrapped the revenge thriller Blood Father, and The Expendables 3 hits screens next month. The actor/director was awarded a Crystal Globe for artistic contribution to world cinema at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, where he was interviewed by Screen Daily and Variety. Gibson touched on a wide range of topics from directing, filmmaking in today’s world, the rise of television, working with Richard Donner again and…Gary Oldman.

His responses are passionate and intelligent. This is a man who loves movies and moviemaking…except we live in a time where it’s difficult to get anything made that didn’t start as a comic book. Check out what he has to say below – this is essential reading.
On directing

“It’s difficult because you have to spend a couple of years of your life doing it. Whatever it is you’re going to do, you have to make sure it’s going to mean something because it’s too much effort just to mail it home. But I’ve got a few ideas that I’d like to fool around with.”

“Nobody would fund Apocalypto or Passion so I had to do it myself. But I’m out of the business now so I have to find something that somebody else wants to fund….I just want to tell a good story and have it be very visceral…Not have it be too wordy but so that you can mostly – almost like a silent movie – just watch what’s going on and still glean probably 70% of it without having the hear dialogue.”
“I think to just visually put a story up there – as series of images that tells a story and elicits emotions from people – that’s what we’re all trying to do as filmmakers…We’re trying to involve the audience, make something compelling and make them leave a little different. Change them in some way.”

On the rise of television

“I think it’s a very interesting medium now…It doesn’t matter where you do the work and in what format, so long as it’s fulfilling with great images. TV is going through this amazing period right now that seems to have a lot more freedom and agility than filmmaking.”

“The binge-watching thing, I don’t understand where people get the time to do it. I do not understand. I can’t.”

On working with Richard Donner again

“I’m sure it will happen. He ain’t out of the game. He’s not a youngster but he’s still vital. He’s still very much alive and I think you’ll see him get up and crack one out of the park.”

On the Gary Oldman controversy

“These things happen. As we all know… I have nothing much to say. The guy was probably just… He’s a good guy

He’s fantastic. I know him. He’s a good dude… I didn’t even look too hard.”

On making independent films

“It’s fun. I like it and their enthusiasm. And they are very frugal because they have to be, because they haven’t got that Hollywood backing; they don’t have that support. So they have to be able to go in like robber’s dogs and extract a piece of gold somehow with minimal effort… not minimal effort, believe me there’s a lot of hard work involved, but they have to be able to do it quick, is what I’m saying, and I like that. And of course I’ve worked like that before anyway on big productions which I’ve financed myself like The Passion and Apocalypto. These are independent productions. So it is kind of fun to have that sort of freedom.”

“It’s not like it was. It’s scaled down a bit. We used to have branches everywhere… in Europe and… It’s downsized a great deal so it’s not as prolific as it once was but it’s not dead either. I’ve still got Icon, and if I see something that is really cool and worthwhile doing, and cost effective…
“Like the other independents, I’m not in there to get burned. But it’s becoming more difficult, put it that way, for everybody.”

“It’s just the way things are. There’s been a big shift in the way things used to be. I mean, there aren’t as many films being done at the studios, and they tend to gravitate toward the big blockbustery things with pyrotechnics and stuff like that, which is valid. They are entertaining.

I think stories of more substance are not as sought-after or fostered as much. And of course those things are left largely to the independent filmmakers. For the independent filmmakers, traditionally, it’s been more difficult to get distribution, and to get back what you put in. It’s just more difficult. And there are a lot of gatekeepers along the way.

It’s like anything. There are a lot more hurdles to overcome. You are going to get robbed and raped and beaten. It’s just part of the game. There are a lot of sharks in the water. But even something that you finance yourself, and it’s independent, and you go out and you make deals with the distributor, or you are the distributor and you make deals with the exhibitor, and all this kind of stuff. Even then, at the end of the day, you feel like “The Old Man and the Sea” with Ernest Hemingway, where he catches a big fish and by the time he gets it into shore it’s just a head, because all the sharks were in there biting the hell out of it.
It’s the way it is, man. And you’re lucky if you can make a living at it.”

On Vikings

“I love that era. I love it. I love it. I love it. And Vikings are historically not very sympathetic characters. I mean, they are really just a bunch of brigands.”

Sources: Screen Daily and Variety