Filmmaker behind Pi (Best Director award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival), The Wrestler, Black Swan (won Natalie Portman the Academy Award for Best Actress and garnered 4 Oscar nominations including Best Picture), Noah, and his latest, mother!
What role have psychedelics play in Darren’s life?
Shamanism and reaching alternative states have been apart of our culture for a long time, but was later “washed out”. We as a society, are now just getting back to it.
Tim’s experience with psychedelics has led him to develop more empathy for the mentally ill
Darren thinks that in controlled environments, there’s clearly tremendous benefit, and he’s derived a lot of wisdom from these types of experiences
Tim is involved in funding research at Johns Hopkins to use psilocybin to treat treatment resistant depression
Darren is on the board of directors for Sierra Club. A big part of what they do involves getting veterans into nature for therapy.
Darren has done some experiments with fasting.
He fasts once a year, for one day, with friends
Tim fasts 3 days per month, and incorporates longer ones throughout the year
Darren is interested in fasting as a way to reach alternative states. He describes fasting as a major mood enhancer. He is also fond of the meditative aspect of fasting, the controlling of mind over body.
The Importance of Clarity
The more clear and upfront you can be, the better
Time is the biggest enemy when filming, so it’s best to get all issues out of the way beforehand
Film making is REALLY hard, each time it’s a ton of work, so you want to make the whole process, for every actor/actress involved, as easy as possible
What does Darren want people to take away from his films?
The first rule of filmmaking – never bore an audience
When people leave the theater, they should be thinking/talking about ideas introduced in the film
Darren loves films that make him scratch his head
“You want to have an impact. In today’s landscape, a lot of things are disposable. We are bombarded with stuff day after day, so it’s nice to have something to think back about.”
Tim describes being in a complete dream like state for a day after seeing mother!
Ingredients that help create emotional engagement with a film
The close-up shot, which according to Darren, is the greatest overlooked invention of the 20th century
Through a close-up shot, you are anonymous in the audience, but you can feel the empathy and can stare into that characters soul
Through the linking of emotions, you start to tell a story
In every language, and every culture, we can relate to storytelling
Darren is on the board of directors for The School of Field Studies, which trains college students to go abroad into sensitive environmental areas and conduct environmental studies
When Darren was 16, he also spent a good amount of time in Kenya, where he studied water strategies in ungulates (all animals that stand on their hooves)
His time as a field biologist changed how he viewed the world
Every day for him was “mindblowing,” and was filled with new experiences
Darren is originally from Brooklyn, NY
How does Darren respond to public perception and criticism?
Their mutual friend, Rick Rubin, has said “The best art divides the audience”
When facing controversy, keep going
“The only thing you have to offer is you, figure out how to communicate that to a cinema at large”
“One of the great things cinema does, is bring us into other human experiences”
“If it’s truthful to who you are, and you’re concerned about how people will react to it, stick up your middle finger and charge straight into that fire”
Side story – what happens when you try to stay awake for 6 days
At one point back in college, Tim stayed awake for 6 days. He had read a lot about the “odd phenomena” that you experience when you stay away that long
He stopped because he fell asleep while walking, and woke up half a block later
How does Darren have the tremendous focus required to accomplish what he has, while still having balance in other areas of life?
Many creative people run themselves out and sacrifice family/relationships by being singularly focused
According to Darren, bringing in other experiences into his life, allows him to better relate to people
He uses personal experiences to create art
In order to story tell, you need stories
When he goes deep into a project, how does he create the balance?
Darren averages a film every 2-3 years
He says in this span, there’s only around a 50-60 day stretch where he’s completely immersed in the film
Once he’s editing the film, it’s more like a 9-5 job