On a documentary, I had no second takes. There’s choices I wouldn’t have to choose. When I ask someone a question in a documentary film, it wasn’t necessarily answered the way I would expect it would. And I found in making documentaries, whenever I was surprised by something, it was always the best. My favorite moments were when actually life came in and took a hold of it. And I kind of learned as a documentary filmmaker to take that megaphone, that Cecil B. Demille megaphone, and turn it to my ear and use it as a funnel to capture the world. I kind of sharpened my instincts and learned how to capture people that were real. And I learned how to set up situations in a way that they would happen; I’d kind of instigate things to happen.
In making Blue Valentine, I basically used all of my tools as a documentary filmmaker and tried to create a narrative that actually had true life to it. As I grew up, I always loved movies. I always wanted to be a filmmaker. I’ve always been making films. I think there came a time in my life where I started to get very bored with expectations that films bring up on the screen. For instance, when I was watching Pirates of the Caribbean I thought to myself, “This is so boring. All these swordfights are so boring, I’m falling asleep.” I know that they’re never going to kill Johnny Depp, you know? If only they would take their swords and stab him through his heart. There would be actual consequence and actual danger and actual unpredictability up on the screen.
And I’ll tell you another thing is, with the advent of YouTube, I think the audience is so sharp nowadays. I don’t think you can fool them, I don’t think you can trick them. It’s one thing to be like James Cameron and just kind of like have amazing things from your imagination up on the screen, otherwise I think people – they know what’s a fake moment and what’s not a fake moment. There are real things out there that people can see. I just think that they can’t be lied to. For me as an audience member, I have an allergy to fakeness. I wanted to make Blue Valentine filled with real moments. Real living, breathing moments.