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Gus Van Sant Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Trade Mark (5) | Trivia (17) | Personal Quotes (11)

Overview (3)

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Birth NameGus Greene Van Sant Junior
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Gus Van Sant was born on July 24, 1952 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA as Gus Greene Van Sant Junior. He is a producer and director, known for Good Will Hunting (1997), Milk (2008) and Elephant (2003).

Trade Mark (5)

Often uses shot of cloud formation (e.g. Elephant, Drugstore Cowboy, Gerry, Paranoid Park, and Psycho)
Utilizes very low depth of field in his films' cinematography
Usually uses music by Danny Elfman
His end credits are often run over film footage (i.e. home movies in 'Drugstore Cowboy', ice skating in 'To Die For', an incoming storm in 'Elephant') instead of the usual solid black. A notable exception is 'My Own Private Idaho'.

Trivia (17)

Graduate of Rhode Island School of Design.
Favorite director is Stanley Kubrick.
Is a member of a band, Destroy All Blondes.
Once worked as an assistant to Roger Corman.
Director of Hanson's music video "Weird" and asked Hanson to produce a song for his next movie.
In 1992 received the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) of Oregon's Freedom of Expression Award, which recognizes courage or creative vision in upholding free expression, particularly in the arts, for his films that have, " let us see inside the lives of individuals we don't often get a glimpse at."
In addition to being a successful film director, Van Sant is also a published author (his first novel, "Pink", was published in 1997), a musician (two solo albums "Gus Van Sant" and "18 Songs About Golf" were released on the PopTones label in late 1997, plus his musical/spoken word collaboration with William S. Burroughs, "The Elvis Of Letters" was released in 1985 as the first album put out on the Tim Kerr record label), and a photographer (a large book of his photographs titled "108 Portraits" was published in 1992 and is now something of a collectors item.)
He dedicated both his 1993 film Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993) and his 1997 novel "Pink" to the late actor River Phoenix.
Van Sant had planned to make a film about artist Andy Warhol with River Phoenix starring as the young Warhol, but plans were scrapped after Phoenix's death.
Often casts Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea in small or cameo roles in his films.
His 1997 film Good Will Hunting (1997) is parodied in the 2001 Kevin Smith film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001).
Cast 3 of the 5 Phoenix siblings in his movies. River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho (1991), Rain Phoenix in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993) and Joaquin Phoenix in To Die For (1995).
Interviewed in "Directors Close Up: Interviews with Directors Nominated for Best Film by the Directors Guild of America", ed. by Jeremy Kagan, Scarecrow Press, 2006.
Elephant (2003), the very first film he directed that was accepted into Cannes, won the festival's two most prestigious awards: the Palme d'or and best director.
Was member of the dramatic jury at the Sundance Film Festival in 1991.
He has taught two classes at the Northwest Film Center in Portland, OR.
Directed 5 actors in Oscar nominated performances: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Minnie Driver, Sean Penn, and Josh Brolin. Williams and Penn won Oscars for performances in one of his movies.

Personal Quotes (11)

When asked "Why in the hell would you want to do a shot-by-shot remake of Psycho in color?" He serenely replied "So no one else would have to."
You can't copy a film. If I hold a camera, it's different than if Irving Penn holds it. Even if it's in the same place, it will magically take on his character. Which was part of the experiment. Our 'Psycho' showed that you can't really appropriate. Or you can appropriate, but it's not going to be the same thing.
I have this new theory about films. It's almost like astrology, where if we started on a Tuesday the film will be different than if we started on a Wednesday. Not because of the planets. It's that sometimes you start with the wrong balance and the whole thing gets messed up.
Part of me believes in anonymous art. I got that from a writer named Jamake Highwater, who wrote about painting before the Renaissance. The way people related to art in, say, ancient Greece. How it was about the community for the community and not the self-expression of the artist. I thought of 'Good Will Hunting' and 'Finding Forrester' as doing it for the people, and wanted to speak without the hindrance of my own style. I'm not sure if that's possible, but it was my rationale.
Because we're used to making films and observing films with a sort of shorthand. You see the car going down the road. O.K. Got it. Then it's the next shot. Usually what happens then is people start talking about something that will relate to the story instead of something random and more lifelike, like dental work. We learn in English class not to have it be about dental work. But maybe watching the car going down the road is important. To really watch it - as if you were in the car.
Kubrick was a good model. He had an autonomy I've never had but that one desire. He organized things a certain way. And he had a good relationship with Warner Brothers. He was their class act.
Different filmmakers do it different ways. My way was to make something for cheap. It's a good deal for people to give me $3 million for a movie. So they don't have a lot of requirements. If I was looking for $30 million, then they need more requirements. They need movie stars, and they need backup for their money. The drawback is, when they spend small amounts of money, the studios don't tend to release the movie very wide since they don’t have that much at stake. Which is O.K. because the films can fend for themselves and be seen by word of mouth.
I'm really going in a weird I-don't-know-where direction. I prefer it to anything like what standardised filmmaking has become.
[on 'Restless'] Younger cancer patients form these relationships with complete strangers because the depth of the tragedy is so great it wipes out the standard support systems of friends and families. Parents can't cope, so they make new friends - and they can be staff at the hospital, or someone they just picked out.
[on going digital to produce no-budget movies outside of Hollywood] There was an expected style in making a movie, like a template, and to deviate from it was highly suspect. You always made these a-little-more-safe decisions because money was riding on it. I got tired of it.
With Psycho (1960), I was sort of angry at Hollywood trying to remake movies, because it seemed like they would rob the screenplay and forget all the other inputs, whatever else existed. For instance, in a movie like Casablanca (1942), they would take the script and they would actually change the script. So I said, "Why don't you just shoot it exactly the way it is, because it's a great movie?" This was my sort of anti-remake statement. And it wasn't until after Good Will Hunting (1997) that they were willing to let me do that. Universal was the company that I would go to for meetings, and every time they'd ask me what I wanted to do. The first time I said something like, "Why don't you remake something like Psycho without changing it?" And subsequently, after they laughed at me that time, I'd bring it up again the next year, and the next year, until finally, when Good Will Hunting was up for awards, they wanted me to do something at Universal. And I said the Psycho-don't-change-anything shoot, and their response was, "We think that's a really brilliant idea." [audience laughs] So then they were willing to do it and the ball was in my court, to decide whether I wanted to do it. Danny Elfman said the critics would kill me, which they did. But I still thought that it was worthy of experimentation, even though I was at a weird point, with the nominations and everything.(...)I expected it to be a huge blockbuster.[2009]

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