ALWAYS AT THE CARLYLE, a documentary by Matthew Miele about the famed hotel on Madison Ave released in New York on May 11th and Los Angeles on May 18th with additional cities to follow.
Film Courage: What mistakes would you say you’ve made early on in your career with filmmaking whether it was with equipment, timing, whatever?
Matthew Miele, Filmmaker of Always at The Carlyle Documentary: The biggest mistake I ever made (and it was an inadvertent one), when I first was on set as a director, I didn’t spend time with the crew. And the reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want them to suspect and find out that I didn’t know much and I was inexperienced and I was doing this like total fish-out-of-water. I had no clue except for what I learned in school. But in school you do little videos and you’re not really directing a full on feature.
“I would always say (and I still today would say) if you are on set and you’re directing, you should spend time with your crew because it’s a true collaboration and without all those voices coming in and helping you to immerse yourselves in the story, you can’t think it’s this I’m The Only Voice In This. I’m The Only Storyteller. “
So when the crew would have lunch, I was always trying to separate myself because I didn’t want to let on that like “Oh, what have you worked on before?” Or any question like that, I had no idea how to answer it. But they saw it as (or at least my thinking. I had no idea, I had never asked them). But I always felt like they were a little standoffish because they were like “Oh, he doesn’t want to eat with us” or “He wants to spend time alone.” And I always felt like it was the wrong impression I had made obviously.
But again it was inadvertent because I was trying to protect myself from their more investigative questions maybe about if I had any background in this (which I didn’t).
So I would always say (and I still today would say) if you are on set and you’re directing, you should spend time with your crew because it’s a true collaboration and without all those voices coming in and helping you to immerse yourselves in the story, you can’t think it’s this I’m The Only Voice In This. I’m The Only Storyteller. It’s a variety of people who are going to help you along the way and they all have their own voice and creativity they are bringing to it.
So that’s the mutual respect across the board that I think is super important to make sure that I always keep that in the back of my mind. And I know on my next film I’ll always really engage more, but it’s so easy to get in your own head and to kind of just think and brood and try to figure our how you’re going to do a scene.
And you feel like you’re in it alone sometimes because the producers are only going to you when you are losing light and you are not making your day. But I feel now that I need to be a little more involved with how the crew is feeling and have lunch with them and bring the actors in on those conversations and everyone in it together rather than I think a rookie director’s mistake is to think you are in it alone and that it’s you against the world in a sense and you kind of feel like if this doesn’t go, I’ll fail. Which is true because it’s your name on it and if you don’t make your day and you go over-budget, you could get fired or what not.
But I do think the voices on the crew are super important to keep engaging and involve on an equal level as far as their creativity.
Film Courage: That’s an interesting take on perception. At what point did it click for you that this could have been one of the issues and then you self-corrected?
Matthew Miele: I never cured it. [Laughs]
Film Courage: Okay. [Laughs]
Matthew Miele: I just that way on that first set. And I tried to help it on the second set. But I’m a victim of my own thoughts when I get really intense about how I going to structure a scene. Because I don’t ever plan much, I always try to make decisions on the day of and I always try to react to what I’m given because things change all the time. If you plan too much you’re in for a rude awakening because you get to a location and things always change.
So I always try to wait until I’m there. And then when I’m there I make decisions off-the-cuff or a little more in a way that’s keeping it fresh and then I involve the actors in those decisions and the DP, etc.
But I would probably try to be a little more democratic in how I am reacting to things and my approach because I don’t have a shot list generally and I don’t have a lot of dialogue on how I’m doing certain things. So I want to make sure I communicate a little better. But as I said, it’s easy to get into your own head with these things.
Question: Can you relate to this mistake? Have you ever neglected your crew?
For the past 88 years, The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel has been the definition of class and a calling card for Manhattan’s elegant Upper East Side. But while it has housed some of the world’s most famous clientele, the stories within the walls of the hotel rarely leave the premises. Until now. In Always at The Carlyle, writer/director Matthew Miele (Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s, Harry Benson: Shoot First!) presents the untold stories and well-kept secrets of The Carlyle in a feature length documentary to be released worldwide in early 2018. In the works for more than three years, Always at The Carlyle offers an exclusive and provocative peek into the pop culture history of the renowned hotel, all from the mouths of The Carlyle’s own guests and employees. George Clooney, Anjelica Huston, Tommy Lee Jones, Vera Wang, Anthony Bourdain, Roger Federer, Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola, Jon Hamm, Lenny Kravitz, Naomi Campbell and Elaine Stritch join the more than 100 personalities sharing their favorite stories and unique insights in this exposé of New York City’s legendary hotel.
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