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Steven Soderbergh and Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns Talk Side Effects, Collaboration and Big Pharma's Dominance 

Thursday, Feb 7 2013
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Page 4 of 4

Not that we ever set out to make people feel bad, but if the role of art is to alter you in some small way and have you feel different when you come out the other end of the experience, certainly provoking people or suggesting an idea that's unsettling should be within your tool kit.

The good news is, with all this great television, that distinction people used to make in terms of quality or respect between those two mediums is completely gone. For people like us, this is great, because it means we can just go back and forth. It's another opportunity.

BURNS: I can imagine at some point there's going to be a Girls movie, and I'll be there.

click to enlarge Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns
  • Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns

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SODERBERGH: Oh yeah, I think there's a whole synergy going the other way that hasn't been exploited yet. Let's take a Mad Men or a Breaking Bad or a Homeland, and the show's been designed to run X number of seasons and you know when it's going to end. I think it'd be super cool to shoot the last two hours to be released theatrically the week after the penultimate episode. It doesn't have to be on 3,000 screens, but you'd be setting that up all year with these ads: The two-hour finale is going to be in theaters! You could run it for two weeks as an exclusive and then pull it.

BURNS: You'd have the community experience of going to a movie. It's like you've been watching Girls for two years alone with one other person, and then you go to a theater with 500 other people for the conclusion. I think the energy in that room would be amazing.

SODERBERGH: Somebody's going to do that. It seems obvious to me. That's a great way to combine the two mediums, but there's also ... what David Fincher's doing with Netflix [the original series House of Cards] is going to be really interesting. I had a conversation with the two people running Netflix, who were saying, "There's no paradigm here. We can do anything. You can have a show where one episode is 30 minutes and another is 80. We're not bound by any rules. So give us the crazy shit." And I said, "Well, that's good to know. I wasn't even thinking that way."

So it may take a while for people to sort of unwind the assumptions that you make in dealing with the traditional version of this business and realize that this is a new thing.

BURNS: I kind of feel at this point that, for me, in writing, it's this weird Venn diagram where here's everything that Hollywood will make and here's everything that I feel like I can do a good job writing, and the two barely kiss. I'm not sure that there isn't a bigger intersection somewhere else.

Reach the writer at sfoundas@villagevoice.com

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