There was a small amount of toe-picking…..
In addition to talking about why the movies he’s in are the ones he likes the least, Affleck also got into the process of directing his first film, a documentary about the burgeoning rap career of Joaquin Phoenix.
AVC: How does the experience of having things not turn out the way you thought they would affect how you approach directing I’m Still Here, your documentary about Joaquin Phoenix?
CA: It’s very different, because when you’re the guy behind the camera, you’re aware of the reasons for the compromises or the changes that get made. As an actor, you go and do your thing, and someone else down the line then does all the math and goes, “We can’t include that thing where he’s pretending to be dumb and needling those people, because it takes a minute and a half, and it ruins the next scene. It doesn’t make sense.” If you’re directing, you’re the one doing that. You’re much more aware of it, so it’s a little easier. Not to say that the flaws of the filmmaking don’t hurt. In my limited experience as a director, they’re more painful, because the flaws are your own, and you go, “Oh God, I didn’t do that thing,” you know?
It was challenging. It was probably one of the better filmmaking experiences I’ve ever had. I learned an enormous amount. I sort of did the whole thing by myself because I started really small, and I thought, “Won’t this be an interesting experiment?” I don’t think anyone else has the opportunity to make this kind of a movie. I don’t remember this movie being made, really—unless it’s like Don’t Look Back. But in Don’t Look Back, there was still a distance between the filmmaker and the subject. They didn’t have video, for one thing. There were certain advantages that I had. I could shoot 450 hours of somebody just picking their toes. It just so happened that it was two years of just the opposite. There was a small amount of toe-picking, but there was a lot of really, really dramatic, interesting stuff that happened in his life over the course of those two years, and he let me capture it. In that way, I feel like I just lucked out.