Some pictures play wonderfully to a room of eight people. I don’t go for that. I go for the masses. I go for the end effect.
I love to shoot elegantly and I pride myself that it’s not whacked together by a dilettante. But I despise doing fancy schmancy shots. I cannot stand it. If anybody in the middle of a picture suddenly grabs his partner’s knee and says, ‘Oooooh, look at that setup!’ then the picture is dead to me because he knows that there was a setup. He knows there was a camera, he knows there were people on the dolly pushing backward, forward. I try to involve the audience and make them part of what is happening on that two-dimensional screen. The key is just make it effective, but don’t make it obvious. Make it clear to them, but don’t spell it out like the audience are just a bunch of idiots. Just aim it slightly above their station and they’re going to get it.—Billy Wilder