TCM Presents AFI's Master Class – The Art of Collaboration: Robert Zemeckis and Don Burgess

Turner Classic Movies, the best cinema based channel on US cable television, has so far remained one of the go to channels for rare and wonderful classic films that cineastes can explore, and while they have yet to really sully their reputation in exchange for original programming, they are being wise to include original shows that explore film in the spirit of the channel. Celebrating his newest live action film “Flight,” director Rober Zemeckis and frequent collaborator cinematographer Don Burgess sit down to discuss their filmmaking careers and the techniques used through some of their films that they found most notable and entertaining. The discussion never quite touches on Zemeckis’ motion capture animated films, and there isn’t so much explanation as to why he chose motion capture as a medium upon which to tell stories.

In either case, Zemeckis has amassed an amazing career of varied genre films, and he along with Don Burgess, explore the various techniques behind shots in “Forrest Gump,” and “What Lies Beneath,” as well as their inspirations in classic cinema. Burges fawns over the car chase in “French Connection,” while Zemeckis reels at the big meeting in “The Godfather.” Before long, the pair are recalling their times working on various hit movies and what the experience was like, especially when it came to compromising on certain sweeping shots Zemeckis had planned but couldn’t pull off. As predicted, there is a moment where Zemeckis and Burgess discuss working on the 2012 “Flight,” with emphases on a scene where Washington has to pilot a crashing plane with the help from passengers. The audience is mainly filled with film students and fellows, all of whom grant insight from Zemeckis and Burgess. A trifle self indulgent at times, “AFI’s Master Class” is a definite interesting original show from Turner Classic Movies, and I hope we learn more from cinematic masters and don’t resort to pandering for ratings with people like Brett Ratner, or McG.

Following this episode Turner Classic Movies will air Zemeckis’ “What Lies Beneath.” Visit Turner Classic Movies.

Premieres January 14th on Turner Classic Movies, 8pm Eastern.