“How To Make Films The Ken Loach Way”

I don’t think Matt Zoller Seitz even knows how to do a bad interview, but his discussion with Ken Loach on the occasion of the release of The Old Oak, which Loach, 87, has decided will be his last film, is really excellent. Part of that is their discussion of the experience of filmmaking, Loach’s process, and style, something the famously naturalistic, un-stylish [sic] filmmaker apparently never gets to talk about:

If you were to distill “How to make films the Ken Loach way,” what would be the most important rules?
Camera at eye level. Natural light. Lens like a human eye. No great wide-angle lens and no extreme telephoto effects. Don’t intervene in an actor’s space, you know? Respect their space. Within those parameters, light is critical because it can tell viewers whether you’re gonna treat somebody like a suspect in a hostile interview or whether you’re gonna engage with someone sympathetically. I’ve learned a lot just looking at old paintings. First thing when you look for a location is “Where’s the light?” It isn’t about the place. If the light doesn’t work, we needn’t see any more of the scene. It’s not only useful for lighting performers, it’s just immensely beautiful for shots. And then you consider the balance of people in the frame, the balance of architecture, the rhythm of cutting. Bad cutting can destroy a sense of reality.

What is bad cutting?

I wish him a long and healthy life, but can we get more interviews on process with him quick, please?

Ken Loach on his last film, ‘The Old Oak,’ Power and Hope [vulture]