How to make Woody Allen movies
To Rome with Love hits New Zealand cinemas later this year, marking the 76 year-old director's 46th feature film. To commemorate, we've put together a 12 step program on how to succeed at making Allen movies without really trying.
1. If you can, you should probably get yourself a time machine so you can be born in Brooklyn in 1935 to a creative father and an overbearing, controlling mother. This first step seems difficult but it is vital. Once you arrive, you should unconsciously resent and fear that overbearing mother. Do not allow this to escape your sub conscious- instead, blame your neurosis on a fear 'of death'.
2. Have a younger sister named Letty born 8 years later. Find relief from your overbearing mother in her delightful company. You'll eventually employ her as one of your producers. Allow a neat division of how you see women to develop in your brain: overbearing wife, (that's mummy) versus much younger muse, (that's baby sis). Let this idea marinate and if the 'muse' should accidentally be conflated with a whore, so be it! Let her turn into a muse-whore! A Muore if you will. Hang onto this neat division - you'll need it for the central plot when you start making movies like ...
Stardust Memories (1980)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Radio Days (1987)
Husbands and Wives (1992)
Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
Mighty Aphrodite (1995)
Deconstructing Harry (1997)
Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
Match Point (2005)
Whatever Works (2009)
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (2010)
Midnight in Paris (2011)
To Rome with Love (2012)
and many more!
3. Acknowledge your atheism early in life and transpose any feelings of worship you might have reserved for a deity onto New York. As a Brooklynite you'll mythologise Manhattan as a glittering city teeming with the dysfunctional relationships of the chattering classes. In doing so you'll set the template for hundreds of movies and TV shows. Don't worry, nobody's going to make you take a paternity test or anything but you should know you're the biological father of Sex and the City.
4. As a teenager, make sure you write hilarious jokes -actually they're horribly sexist but they're hilarious for the time - and send them to newspapers and radio shows. You'll get paid for it! Flush with cash and the feeling of success, you'll now drop out of high school. But, alas, you'll feel secretly inferior about never going to university and, as a result, most of the protagonists in your movies will carry a chip on their shoulders about a 'pseudo intellectual' (your own words) in their midst. This 'pseudo intellectual' will mince about like the pretentious, academic snob they are. See: Annie Hall, (cinema goer) Manhattan, (Diane Keaton's character) Hannah and her Sisters, (Max Von Sydo's character), Midnight in Paris, (Michael Sheen's character), Match Point, (almost everyone) Stardust Memories, (Charlotte Rampling's character), The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, (Helen Hunt's character).
5. Meanwhile, drop pseudo intellectual references to Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Chekov, (who you'll often steal from), and Tolstoy into your films without any knowledge of how ironic this looks.
6. Wear your anxieties about death, sex, Judaism and women proudly as a badge! In doing so you'll create a brand new genre of comedy: the self-aware, neurotic New Yorker. Inspire such classics as When Harry Met Sally. Inspire a raft of comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David to create the greatest sitcom of all time - Seinfeld. Few will acknowledge this but you are the spiritual Godfather of Louis CK, (which is maybe why you'll cast him in your next project.)
7. Remember point 2? Well, here's where that division turns into an obsession - with prostitutes! Make sure you have at least one in every movie! And don't forget your most recent, To Rome with Love!
8. But let's back up a bit: first you have to write and direct the most groundbreaking romantic comedy of all time, Annie Hall - the sort of movie that shows sophisticated urbanites not just how they are but how they'd like to be. Use your own relationship with Diane Keaton as inspiration and show what a real relationship looks like, from the infatuation period right through until the breakup. Make it funny and poignant and heartbreaking and true. Make a star out of Diane Keaton.
9. If you have a couple of flops after that don't worry, just make sure you wow audiences again with Manhattan and again with Hannah and her Sisters. And then proceed to cruise on your reputation for decades to come.
10. If you ever get writer's block keep in mind that if the muse - or Muore - in your movies becomes too demanding, the protagonist can always kill her. See: Crimes and Misdemeanors, Match Point.
11. Eventually branch out of New York and, when you're in your autumn years, mythologise European cities such as Barcelona, Paris, Rome and even London in your films. Fill your xenophobic scripts full of stereotypes, and subsequently earn the adoration of a pack of dumb old white American men who will throw awards at you for your efforts.
12. Finally, make it appear as if your wildest, most dysfunctional beliefs about women have bled into your personal life - leave your partner of 12 years, Mia Farrow, for a younger muse - your de facto step-daughter, Soon Yi Previn, (aged 20 at the time of your affair). Act like the whole thing is utterly normal and fine.
And there you go! You've made it, kid! With thanks to this documentary for providing the facts on Allen's early life.