Your other most recent project was "Chasing Mavericks," about surfers in Northern California. You took that over from Curtis Hanson.
Yes, I came in about halfway through filming, but when it was clear Curtis wasn't going to return [for health reasons], I stayed throughout the rest of the movie, so I was on it for about a year.
What happened with the star, Gerard Butler? He was reported to have nearly drowned?
He did have an accident toward the end of the shooting. He hadn't done much surfing and we all got a bit overconfident because we hadn't had any accidents and we'd been shooting on and off for some months. It had all gone safely, considering it was incredibly dangerous, these vast waves. He fell off a wave and immediately got hit by a second wave, and he was underwater for about 40 seconds, which must be an eternity when you don't really know where you're going. But they yanked him out and he had to go to hospital. They kept him in for a little bit. It scared the ... out of us all.
You were head of the DGA during a period of great technological change. Did you accomplish what you set out to accomplish?
I did three terms and two negotiations, and the second negotiation really was about a brave new world — the world of new media, where nobody knew what was going on. It's still unclear, but in those early days it was very difficult to know how big it was, how important it was going to be, how quickly the world would change and how much we should hang on to the old world that we knew and how much we should in a sense begin to come to terms with the new world.
A lot of intimate dramas have moved to television.
That's definitely true. Things go in cycles. There was the independent film business for a bit and it got bought up by the majors and imploded, and now a good chunk of the American film industry is alive and well and living on cable.
Actually, the next thing I'm going to do is an episode of "Masters of Sex" for Showtime, which I start in about three weeks.