It’s been six years since Terrence Malick released his last film, and this summer’s The Tree of Life is only his sixth ever. FADER video producer Hanly Banks reflects on her Texas internship with the reclusive legend.
In the rolling landscape of Austin, Texas, in an office building of no distinction, one of America’s finest filmmakers is putting the finishing touches on his latest movie, The Tree of Life. He is most likely eating a breakfast taco and wearing a Hawaiian shirt over khaki pants—a casual pairing that serves as a matador-like distraction from the fact that underneath, Terrence Malick is as serious as it gets. But this is all assuming that things in Austin have remained the same since the summer of 2005, when I interned during post-production on The New World.
The fact that the mythologized director responsible for definitive films like Badlands, Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line was even making another film was exciting—the years of lag between each seemed always to make the next an uncertainty. But witnessing that process firsthand was monumental. To be truthful though, my experience was not really a lesson in filmmaking. A sophomore in college, I was having a bit of an existential crisis—totally perplexed about how to “make it” in the entertainment industry with no real idea of what that would mean anyway. Several months working for a director who was so anti-all-of-that became an education on how to live.