What do you miss most from your childhood?
My grandfather’s farm. The weeks I would spend there, in downstate Illinois, were the happiest times of my life. It was 650 acres of bliss—tractors, horses, cattle; fields, woods, streams. It was heaven on Earth for a kid.
What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?
When I was a kid, I thought I would be a farmer, following in my grandfather’s footsteps. Later, I had a misguided foray into law school, which, fortunately, I escaped before it was too late—ha! Teaching has always been a passion of mine, but when I think about what I might do if I stopped my work in film, I’d say that Foreign Service in the diplomatic corps seems like a good place to land.
If you could collaborate with anyone alive today (someone you don’t know personally), who would it be?
The first person to leap to mind is cinematographer Chris Doyle. His work with Wong-Kar Wai is just stunning. Nick Cave is also someone I’d put at the top of the list. His storytelling ability across form and medium is striking to me.
Whose opinion do you respect most?
I really do try to listen to a wide swath of opinion. Working in film, I’m really concerned with the question and respect of audience—and that audience comprises a lot of opinions! I love balancing the thoughts of both professionals and amateurs alike. Ideas, inspirations, and improvements can really come from anywhere. Listening is almost always good.