“Becoming Iconic,” is a documentary highlighting the uphill battle of directing for the first time.
Jonathan Baker, the director, put together a star-studded lineup of directors to interview. The information collected was not only to inspire up and coming directors but, for Jonathan himself. Baker began filming this documentary a year before his first major motion picture. In the filming of Inconceivable, Jonathan faced major obstacles and backlash set before him by the studio. Throughout these obstacles, the documentary served as a form of escape and time to regenerate himself. In listening to these accomplished directors reminisce about their first time and how they changed methods and certain things as they progressed and moved onto other films, it provided Jonathan with insight to take what he knew has worked for others and mesh it with his own ideas in order to finish Inconceivable.
We attended a special screening at Soho House. Check out highlights from the post-screening talk.
Q: How exciting is it to be sitting here with a packed house and, finally showcasing this?
Jonathan Baker: This is the end of a world tour; we’ve been at all the film festivals for the last year and so this the last screening. Now it’s merging with online and the public being able to go out and see it themselves. Every time I see an audience it makes this journey so interesting.
Q: How long did the whole process take to create this film?
Jonathan Baker: We created this film a year before ‘Inconceivable’ was in pre-production. A year before pre-production we started the documentary because I was curious, I was just curious what the process was from other point of views of people that had done it. Who really had an eye on their own journey and, I thought it’d be really interesting if I merged my world with their world. Warren Beatty kept telling me that a monkey could direct. In this industry, he’s called the President; Jack Nicolson, Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, and Jodie they always defer to him. He’s only done so many films and yet he’s some of the highest royalty of actor/producer/director and there’s only a couple of them and I’ve always been enamored by their ability to do everything.
Q: How did you book people of that caliber?
Jonathan Baker: You know, everyone wants to talk about their first time. It doesn’t make a difference what it is and if you ask and they have the time. I have learned that people will step into themselves and, there’s a narcissistic part in all of us that want to share what it is that we had taken on. Whether it’s the being of the process or the end.
Q: So watching your journey, it felt like there were moments when you wanted to quit or give up. How do you come out of it?
Jonathan Baker: I never would give up, when you commit, you commit. When you commit you protect the entity of what you’re doing at all costs, just like a child you protect it. You make sure that your journey has a direction and you have an idea of what the end result looks like.
Q: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Is it directing?
Jonathan Baker: Directing. Directing by far, very interesting journey. It’s not that I wouldn’t do it again, it’s like Jodie says the first time you’re like “oh my god,” the second time you’re like “okay let me focus on what’s really important on this second go around.”
Q: I like how honest you were about having to compromise and to have to be a team player.
Jonathan Baker: I am not a team player. I am never a team player; I’m a team player when it comes to information. Warren told me upfront, it is not a democracy. It is the one thing that scared me to my core because I thought it was a democracy. I thought you do work with everyone, what you do is you hire everybody. In my case, I was given that crew. Which was the guiding crew unfortunately and, when I took them the studio had already schooled them. I couldn’t pick my team like Taylor Hackford was saying to pick your team. In being a team player, give everybody your dream, be directive and let them go. Once they’re on board you just have to make sure they have enough information to do what you want them to do.
Q: What do you want to be remembered for?
Jonathan Baker: I want to be remembered for telling stories, being creative and having style and sophistication on screen. I try really hard, so the people that follow me whether they stay at the hotel, or they watch a movie or they buy products. It’s all a creative journey, like I said in the movie I want to be Tom Ford in reverse. I just want to create, whether it’s a product or designing a shirt or a movie and if it’s not a movie then it’s the hotel. And I get to do it with my wife, we’re truly opposites of the same coin so everything we do is an amazing journey. And I’m so lucky to have a journey because some people can’t even find a journey.