Arthur Penn: Let's Start A Revolution

Arthur Penn at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, as captured by Eric Robert.

In Conversation
New York City

It stopped being fun a long time ago. I'm talking about making films, producing and directing plays, doing anything in the arts. I suppose it's still enjoyable and fulfilling to sit at home and write, but then who's going to publish it and how little will they pay you? 

Everyone now is expected to accept a poverty of wages and a poverty of spirit and be grateful for it.

This is not my old age speaking: I hear this from almost everyone working today, and many of them are young and are not getting the lift-off their talents deserve. The ludicrous safety and the inordinate steps that must be taken to get anything done today kills everything. If anything is to be good at all--certainly unique--there must be some sense of imagination, experimentation, anarchy involved. Well, they killed all of that, or they are always trying to.

I understand the need for supervision. We all need it. But let us do what we do. There are so many incredible talents out there today--unique, radical--but I keep seeing the same people over and over again. The easy, agreeable people.

Everyone talks about the revolution we need regarding our government. Well, I agree, we have a corrupt, inept government--but we also have a corrupt, inept artistic community. Let's start a revolution there. 

I'm not saying I know how to go about doing it, but I'm interested and I'm investigating, and as old as I am, count me in.

© 2013 James Grissom


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