Because of the scale of a project like Beneath the Roses, do you have a lot of foreman skills now?
GREGORY CREWDSON: No. The weird thing about that whole body of work is that I’m not particularly good with people, and that photography really is, at the end, a lone thing anyway. One thing, for sure, is that I have a very small group I work with on a continuing basis.
Although in the documentary the smoke-truck guy seemed really busy.
GC: Yeah, he has the biggest job.
Do you do that to mess with the light?
GC: It creates atmosphere, and you see light better. In the end, in the final pictures, it’s just barely in the air. It creates a little texture.
How do you feel about the magic hour?
GC: Funny, because obviously it’s so beautiful, the magic hour, but the whole main reason to be shooting in that hour is that it’s the only window where you can work with the lights and daylight at the same time. It started as a practical thing, and then I started to realize how that’s such a period of transition and transformation. My work’s very much about being between places, and that’s very much about that.
Favorite magic hours on film?
GC: Well, Terrence Malick’s the genius of magic hour. Badlands is one of the most perfect movies. He was notorious for driving producers crazy since he would shoot for only five minutes a day.
When you’re working with the magic hour, aren’t you kind of pushing all day and don’t you end up with this tiny window?
GC: It’s why I can never make a movie. Malick’s starting to work faster, though.
Speaking of slow filmmakers, why doesn’t Wes Anderson make movies faster?
GC: I don’t know if you know, but Wes is one of my closet friends. He usually takes long periods in between films, but he just started shooting again after Moonrise Kingdom, which is very uncharacteristic. I think it’s because the movie is a hit, so he’s striking while the iron’s hot, going straight on to the next. He’s such a perfectionist. Now we’ll see, but he might have a film by as early as next year.
Do you guys bond with being perfectionists over set design?
GC: I think so. I think that was part of our original mutual connection, our connection to one another’s work. I think that’s it, and then just going through life together. Now he’s living in Europe, so we don’t see each other as much.
When you’re working, are there any details in your work that surprise you?
GC: No. When you continually do the same thing in a certain sort of way—the one thing artists do whether they’re filmmakers or writers—they create an iconography of themselves, even if they’re not aware of it. It’s not until later that you realize, Oh, I use a lot of medicine bottles or a lot of nondescript cars with doors open or a lot of pregnant women, or whatever it is. You can’t give a precise sort of reason why, but after a period of time that thing just becomes part of the world you create. (via)