steven soderbergh smartless

Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh is a prolific American filmmaker known for his versatile and innovative approach to cinema. Born on January 14, 1963, in Atlanta, Georgia, Soderbergh rose to fame with his debut film "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" (1989), which won him the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. This early success marked him as a leading figure in the independent film movement. Throughout his career, Soderbergh has shown a remarkable ability to move between genres, directing everything from acclaimed dramas like "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic" (both released in 2000) to experimental works and blockbuster Ocean's series. His work is characterized by innovative storytelling, technical proficiency, and a unique directorial style. Soderbergh's dedication to pushing cinematic boundaries while maintaining a prolific output has secured his place as one of the most influential and respected filmmakers of his generation.

Exploring the Genius of Steven Soderbergh: A Dive into the “SmartLess” Podcast

In a recent episode of the “SmartLess” podcast, hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes engage in a captivating conversation with the illustrious filmmaker Steven Soderbergh. Known for his cinematic versatility and innovative storytelling, Soderbergh delves into various aspects of his career, offering insights into his creative process and the film industry.

The Genesis of a Filmmaker

The episode kicks off with light banter among the hosts before transitioning into a profound discussion about Soderbergh’s career. He reflects on the early influences that shaped his path, notably the impact of Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” and the allure of the directorial role. Soderbergh’s journey is marked by an insatiable curiosity and a dedication to craft, stemming from his youth and experiences with cinema.

The Craft of Storytelling

Soderbergh dissects the art of storytelling, emphasizing the balance between commercial appeal and artistic expression. He reminisces about the American New Wave, which perfectly fused engaging narratives with an artful approach, a blend he aspires to in his works. His films, ranging from “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” to “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Magic Mike,” demonstrate his adaptability and commitment to both entertainment and substance.

Collaboration and Innovation

A recurring theme is Soderbergh’s collaborative spirit and his desire to foster creativity. He values the unexpected moments that arise during filmmaking, often leading to the most memorable scenes. Soderbergh also discusses his role as a cinematographer under the pseudonym Peter Andrews, explaining how this allows for a more intimate and immediate connection with the actors and the narrative.

Facing the Future: AI and New Projects

As the conversation shifts to contemporary topics, Soderbergh shares his thoughts on artificial intelligence in creative industries. He sees AI as an iterative tool rather than a replacement for human experience and emotion, crucial components in storytelling. The discussion also touches on Soderbergh’s upcoming project, “Full Circle,” highlighting his continuous pursuit of challenging and intriguing narratives.

The Varied Palette of a Master Filmmaker

In the middle third of the “SmartLess” podcast, hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes continue their deep dive into the creative world of Steven Soderbergh. This segment unveils the vast spectrum of Soderbergh’s interests and expertise, from his thoughts on independent cinema to his approach to collaboration and innovation.

Independent Cinema and Its Impact

Soderbergh reflects on the significance of independent films, particularly how they shaped the cinema landscape in the 90s. He credits “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” as a pivotal point in independent filmmaking, discussing its role in fostering a new era of creativity and diversity in storytelling. His approach blends commercial viability with artistic depth, striving to maintain an independent spirit within the constraints of the studio system.

The Synthesist’s Approach

Describing himself as a “synthesist” rather than an original, Soderbergh highlights his process of absorbing various influences and ideas to create something unique. This method allows him to work across different genres and styles, demonstrating his versatility as a director. From science fiction to dramatic thrillers, his ability to synthesize different elements into cohesive narratives is evident.

Collaboration and Creativity

Soderbergh values the unexpected moments in filmmaking, which often lead to the most memorable scenes. He discusses his role as a cinematographer under the pseudonym Peter Andrews, explaining how this allows for a more intimate and immediate connection with the narrative and actors. His collaborative nature and open-mindedness create an environment where creativity can flourish.

Confronting the Future: AI and Beyond

Addressing contemporary concerns, Soderbergh shares his views on the role of artificial intelligence in the creative industry. He sees AI as an iterative tool, not a replacement for human experience and emotion, which are crucial in storytelling. He also gives a sneak peek into his upcoming project, “Full Circle,” showcasing his continuous pursuit of challenging narratives.

A Tapestry of Creative Pursuits

In the final segment of the “SmartLess” podcast, hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes continue their exploratory conversation with Steven Soderbergh. This section unravels the deeper layers of Soderbergh’s philosophy, touching on the broader spectrum of the film industry, his unique approach to cinematography, and the future of artificial intelligence in creativity.

The Synthesist’s Vision: Embracing Versatility

Soderbergh delves into his identity as a “synthesist,” highlighting his process of amalgamating diverse influences into his unique cinematic vision. He discusses his ability to adapt and innovate across genres, reflecting on the distinctiveness of each project. From thrillers to comedies, Soderbergh’s eclectic filmography is a testament to his wide-ranging talents and relentless curiosity.

Cinematography and Intimacy

The conversation shifts to Soderbergh’s dual role as a director and cinematographer, often under the pseudonym Peter Andrews. He explains the trade-offs between his personal style and the expertise of other cinematographers, emphasizing the intimacy and immediacy he achieves by being behind the camera himself. This approach facilitates a closer connection with his actors and the narrative, fostering a unique creative environment.

The Role of Surprise and AI in Creativity

Soderbergh shares his love for the unexpected surprises that arise in the filmmaking process, often leading to the most memorable and impactful moments. He also addresses the topic of artificial intelligence, viewing it as an iterative tool rather than a replacement for human creativity. For Soderbergh, the essence of storytelling comes from human experience and emotion, elements that AI cannot replicate.

Full Circle and the Future

The hosts discuss Soderbergh’s upcoming project, “Full Circle,” delving into its themes and narrative structure. Soderbergh describes it as a New York-based drama centered around a kidnapping gone wrong, exploring the idea that buried secrets never stay hidden. This project reflects his ongoing pursuit of complex, layered stories that engage and challenge audiences.


The podcast ends with a reflection on Soderbergh’s career, his prolific nature, and his continuous evolution as a filmmaker. His conversation with the hosts of “SmartLess” provides a comprehensive look into the mind of one of cinema’s most versatile and innovative directors. Soderbergh’s insights into filmmaking, collaboration, and the future of creativity offer valuable lessons and inspiration for artists and audiences alike.