Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow were making a movie for themselves when they started on “De Palma,” a career-spanning doc about their friend and fellow filmmaker, Brian De Palma. But as they started piecing it together, the two realized they had created something for everyone. The result — which touches on the legendary director's hits (“Carrie,” “The Untouchables,” “Mission: Impossible”) and his oddballs (“Phantom of the Paradise,” “Blow Out,” “Femme Fatale”) with equal screentime — says a lot not just about De Palma as an artist but as someone who’s been able to eke out a singular career in a tough business.
This is a film about a filmmaker talking to filmmakers, which you don’t see often in documentary profiles. If it was just a journalist interviewing him at a junket, he might not be as forthcoming.
Noah Baumbach: It’s shared experience. It’s apples to apples. You have the experience of making films, which is very specific. [A journalist] is coming to a movie when it’s done. It’s not about that when you’re a filmmaker talking with other filmmakers. You know, on some level, what they’re talking about.
Jake Paltrow: No matter how big a movie is — it could be a crew of 10 or 250 people — they all run by a sort of paramilitary structure that’s kind of the same all over. You’re all moving this big thing around. When it's directors talking to directors you don’t have to explain the game. That was a major component of making the movie with Brian, besides having the long friendship with him.