Whit Stillman on the Joys of Making an Amazon TV Pilot

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Filmmaker Whit Stillman (Metropolitan, The Last Days of Disco) tries his hand at television with an Amazon pilot called The Cosmopolitans, about a group of ex-patriots living in Paris.

Stillman talks to The New Republic about how he arrived at creating a pilot for Amazon instead of a more traditional television network. “After Last Days of Disco I really thought it would be good to work in TV. You spend so much time coming up with a fictional world, and then you’re over with it. It’s done, and you have to invent a new world and a new group of characters. After Last Days of Disco I thought, I’d really like to work in TV where I can just keep going with the same characters and not have to reinvent the wheel every couple of years,” he says. “So I was working with these big production companies to write scripts that they would then take to a network, but nothing ever comes of it. I once asked how these companies could afford to commission so many scripts they didn’t do much with, and they said, ‘One word: Seinfeld.’ But it was this crushing feeling, like you’re working in a void and by the time you turn a script in, no one’s paying attention.”

Stillman’s experience with Amazon has been different, thanks largely to the immediacy of the project. “It was different with Amazon because you really feel close to the printing press,” he explains. “It’s like being in a college newspaper, like the Harvard Crimson, where we had three printing presses downstairs. I already had a relationship with Amazon because one of the first things they had done was option Metropolitan for a remake. They wanted something in Paris, and I was really keen on it, and then we shot it very quickly.”

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