Celebrate Billy Wilder, Born On This Day in 1906, with this Extended 1995 Interview

Billy Wilder with Austrian Pickelhaube helmet and Oscars

Here's a long form interview with the still very agile minded Billy Wilder conducted in 1995. As this video was created by the Writer's Guild, there is a lot about story - very few have ever mastered movie storytelling as well as Wilder, after all - but there are a lot of other gems too. None of us, whether we be directors, writers, technical personnel, or merely film fans, can or should disregard the lessons laid down here by Wilder. This kind of advice has no expiration date, and the filmmakers of today who heed it will have the advantage over those who ignore it.

On tricky camera set-ups:

"I don't indulge in camera tricks. I don't want - you know, one director says to another, "did you see the set up that the guy has? Terrific what he did with the camera." No, I just photograph it as simply as possible, but as elegantly as possible. You will never see a surprising shot from the point of view of Santa Claus, shooting through the fireplace. Who is there?! Santa Claus maybe."

On changes in the movie business:

"The studios are now copying more successful pictures. If you bring them a picture that's totally original they say, "this is very interesting but I've never seen it before." "That's why I want to make it!"

On keeping audience interest:

"You have to get the hook, the big hook, that keeps them there. And don't let go. Because they are fickle. Very fickle. Keep working on that throat. Keep getting tighter and tighter."