Filmmaker Jeff Nichols is a guy who sees his art with clear eyes.
“I write each of my films, I direct each of my films, and I have final cut over their edits,” Nichols told the audience during the WIRED by Design conference. “So if you happen to see one of my movies and you don’t like it, it is totally my fault.”
That’s an unusual level of creative control (and self-deprecation) for a Hollywood director. But having that latitude to express his point of view is what has taken Nichols from promising indie filmmaker to full blown auteur in just three movies. In the video above, Nichols talks about the cinematic specifics of that journey, from learning the power of stillness in Shotgun Stories to cribbing from Stanley Kubrick for the ominous tone of Take Shelter to evoking the movements of boyhood and the Mississippi River in Mud.
Then there’s Nichols’ new movie Midnight Special, for which he gave himself a challenge: “conquering light.” Writing a character that literally glows is a pretty gutsy way to take that leap, but from the looks of it, the results are masterful and utterly spellbinding.