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  • - It's the same way you choose this path of making movies.

  • If you're going to commit to doing something,

  • and if you have that fire, that large in your belly,

  • then you're going to, you're going to destroy everything

  • in its path to achieve the highest level all the time.

  • And I wasn't going to let a broken back stop me.

  • Hi, I'm Robert Richardson

  • and this is the timeline of my career.

  • It's a long career, so beware.

  • [music]

  • [gunshots]

  • - I'd gone to El Salvador on a documentary for Frontline

  • and when I returned,

  • the sound man that had been working with me

  • became the assistant director to Oliver Stone on Salvador.

  • Ramon made a recommendation to meet me.

  • I went in, met Oliver.

  • It was sweltering hot,

  • they didn't have any air conditioning.

  • And Oliver was wearing a leather jacket.

  • And he's pouring sweat.

  • To meet Oliver the first time,

  • my, you know, I was like...

  • I was shaking.

  • To be asked to shoot a feature when you're 28 years old,

  • And I remember the woman I was with at the time,

  • who became my future wife.

  • Uh, the two of us were like,

  • I can't believe this is already happening.

  • I felt comfortable because he wanted to attack it

  • form the perceptive of documentary.

  • I felt very comfortable with a camera on my shoulder

  • and instinctively reacting to whatever's taking place

  • in front of me.

  • And I always have,

  • I think that's something that's hidden within my work.

  • [explosions] [shouting]

  • [dramatic orchestral music]

  • [helicopter flying past]

  • - It was remarkable because at the end of Salvador,

  • Oliver said to me, you know it'd been tough.

  • It's a tough shoot.

  • And learning to work with the director,

  • you know, a very demanding man.

  • As you can well expect.

  • So for me, dealing with him was dealing with

  • something that I'd never had before.

  • Somebody so forceful,

  • who is also an extraordinarily brilliant writer,

  • and is an extremely precise director.

  • Then to say, at the end he goes,

  • I have a project I'm trying to get off the ground

  • and I'd like you to shoot it.

  • And it was Platoon.

  • And I read Platoon,

  • and I was shocked by Platoon.

  • It was a film that was very dear

  • to him because it's historic.

  • And then to consider how to shoot that movie

  • so it wouldn't feel like we were replicating Salvador.

  • There's a documentary element but there was a lot more

  • on dollies and long lenses, and counter moves.

  • Also we needed a level of improvisations

  • to have the shoulder in combination,

  • because there are sequences within the movie

  • where Oliver wasn't feeling like

  • "I'm getting the reaction I need out of the actors".

  • He would plant gasoline bombs around the action.

  • And in the middle of the performance,

  • he'd blow them up, without them knowing.

  • And of course you'd get this reaction,

  • cause no one's expecting it.

  • For the actors it suddenly became: this is real.

  • It's up in front of me.

  • And sometimes you get to hear

  • a lot of shots being fired.

  • Not live ammo but blanks, things like that

  • to throw them off.

  • [explosions]

  • - If you look back in retrospect,

  • you've got Johnny Depp, you probably don't even know

  • Johnny Depp was in the movie.

  • Forest Whitaker, you have so many actors that are

  • inside that that went on to find strong careers.

  • I mean, when you look back in retrospect.

  • But when I'm in the middle of it I'm not thinking about it.

  • I'm more in the zone of shooting a movie

  • and I'm thinking less about where it sits in the timeline.

  • When I got the nomination, I was...

  • You got to be kidding me.

  • And it was my first event.

  • And I had my first real suit, tie,

  • I was all dressed up.

  • I had also a tremendous level of fear about the event.

  • I have a huge phobia of being in this place,

  • but I had greater phobia of like,

  • having to walk up on a stage and deliver a speech.

  • I'm sitting next to people that I've admired

  • my entire life in terms of what they've created.

  • These people were a part of what brought me into

  • the world understanding how to shoot.

  • And I'm sitting next to them,

  • and I'm meeting people that I've held up as gods

  • for most of my life.

  • And so for me it was totally fresh, but when I got there,

  • I started to panic.

  • I started to yawn, I'm yawning,

  • and I'm yawning.

  • I can't stop yawning, cause like,

  • I'm not getting enough oxygen into my system,

  • so my body's trying to pull more.

  • And I feel like I'm going to pass out any second.

  • And the second, the second,

  • they said the winner was,

  • and it wasn't me.

  • [clapping] - Out

  • I just had to leave, I could not stay any longer.

  • And I swore never go back to another Academy Award

  • because my fear was so great.

  • Which is why I ended up missing, which will slip by,

  • but why I missed up, did not arrive at JFK.

  • Because I was so frightened of the first experience

  • that I didn't want to repeat.

  • [orchestral music]

  • - You really have me consorting

  • with a sorted cast of characters.

  • - Please answer the question.

  • - [Clay Shaw] Of course not.

  • Such a pity, that assassination.

  • In fact, I admired President Kennedy.

  • A man of true panache, wife of impeccable taste.

  • - Oliver and I formed a bond and,

  • he was shooting a film a year.

  • The only time I'd go away was when I could schedule

  • something that would fit.

  • And I'd always ask Oliver,

  • like you know, and he'd tell me,

  • like I'm going to be doing this.

  • And so, I would fit in films like you know

  • whether it'd be Rob Reiner's "A Few Good Men"

  • or was working with Errol Morris on, you know,

  • "Fast, Cheap & Out of Control".

  • I knew Oliver was what and who I wanted and,

  • I was working with Oliver.

  • So he had become a brother to me and

  • keenly responsible for a lot of my personality now.

  • I'm in love with Oliver, he's like,

  • we don't see a lot of each other anymore but,

  • he was a brother.

  • He made me very aware of the level of

  • concentration required,

  • that you have to come with 100% every single day.

  • He made me very aware of the quality of a word-man,

  • versus a bird-man.

  • Eye vs words, what are more important.

  • For me, when I watch a movie,

  • I don't evaluate it from the perspective of

  • what's it look like.

  • Aww, that was a great shot.

  • Unless the movie's bad, or unless I'm coming back

  • to watch and study it for why it's good,

  • then I think what was central to that particular film

  • was the recreation.

  • The 8 mm that was used to shoot, there's a perimeter film.

  • So we centered everything out on this 8 mm

  • which we shot in Super 8.

  • But we tried to move out from that circle to

  • all the way out to 35.

  • But if you wondered about selling visually like

  • Oswald in the cell, when he's burning out so heavy.

  • It's like, chwooo...

  • It's like 13 stops over-exposed or whatever it was.

  • And I remember I was doing A Few Good Men and Rob Reiner

  • had just seen the movie. [chuckling]

  • - And he goes

  • - [Bob impersonating Reiner] "Bob, uh,