Steven Soderbergh talking with Bill Simmons is a fascinating conversation


Tastes may vary when it comes to Bill Simmons and his podcast, but I don’t think he gets enough credit as an interviewer. Even if you don’t like his sports opinions, Simmons shows great taste in who he brings on his show, particularly with writers and directors.

The most recent example of this is his chat with director Steven Soderbergh, who was at the Sundance Film Festival to promote his new movie, High Flying Bird, and was probably the best guy Simmons could’ve talked to about the current state of filmmaking and how that content can find an audience.

But the interview is also an opportunity to talk about Soderbergh’s 30 years of filmmaking — which began with Sex, Lies and Videotape showing at Sundance — and everything he’s learned about the industry during that span. The conversation begins at the 28:45 mark:

Soderbergh is filming movies on iPhones now. But he’s worked with huge names like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow and Channing Tatum — to name just a handful of actors — in ensemble-driven ventures ranging from lighter to serious drama. He’s shepherded excellent films as a producer. And his willingness to experiment has resulted in notable television as well.

He also has some strong opinions on what studios more concerned with blockbuster tentpoles should do with movies that can’t find a wider audience in theaters. For instance, if something like Logan Lucky bombs opening weekend, why can’t Soderbergh take that to streaming right away for a viewership more willing to take a chance? The old model is broken.

On TV, we don’t have shows like Charlie Rose with in-depth conversations anymore. Most interviews are less than five minutes, intended to promote something or touch on a few general points. Podcasts (and certain radio shows) have picked up the slack and maybe that’s where this sort of content will be found from now on. Simmons’s show is one of the best places for it.

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