You’re always pushing forward with digital technology and use of cameras. Is there a camera or bit of digital technology for filmmaking that’s right on the cusp of coming that maybe you’ve seen or are excited to use? Or was there something you used on this that you couldn’t have done in any of your previous films?
MANN: I’m not that into technology, except when I’m about to shoot a film. Then I want to know everything about everything, and what’s innovative and what can we grab that’s in some R&D stage and make work that nobody has. We’ve done that in the past in various different stages. When I was shooting Insider, we were trying to find small cameras because of how I wanted to shoot it. When we were shooting Ali, we had to invent a camera that was too silly for words, which we did and it worked great. Because I wanted to be in there with something about the size of this usiness card and be in amongst Will and Michael Bentt who played Liston, for example, shooting right in the middle of these punches being thrown.
What we did was take two little $900 surveillance cameras, nicknamed lipstick cameras, which have lenses that are like ground down coke bottles or something, and stuck them like a card. One shot the left side of the frame, this one shot the right side of the frame, and we stitched the two together. We ran wires to my back where I had a transmitter that sent a signal to a Sony recorder that was above us. I could get in there with something this big and go like that. They were lipstick cameras, remember those?
I love the idea that Mann has the perfect Heideggerian relationship to technology: he doesn’t care, but when it doesn’t work for his needs, he fetishizes the breakage.