With first time 'Gone,' Affleck out to try again

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Ben Affleck's first outing as a director has changed the way he looks at his career.

"It made me want to continue to direct," he says. "I really loved it. It's wonderful. I will (throw my focus) into directing, but it doesn't mean I won't act when the opportunity presents itself."

His directorial debut, Miramax's "Gone Baby Gone," is a complex thriller based on Dennis Lehane's best-selling novel about the case of a missing 4-year-old girl that is set in a Boston neighborhood. Affleck and Aaron Stockard co-wrote the script.

On selecting the material, Affleck says: "I found the underlying moral issues appealing. There was social criticism and complexity to it. But it didn't judge any of the characters.

"Functionally, I thought it was a story that I could execute because it was really performance-based. And it was set in an environment that I understood."

Affleck's brother Casey, Michelle Monaghan, Ed Harris and Morgan Freeman star in "Gone Baby Gone." The production team included director of photography John Toll, editor William Goldenberg and composer Harry Gregson-Williams. "I was very fortunate," the director says.

Affleck relates that he enjoyed everything from working with the actors to the photography to postproduction. Of post, he says: "That was really thrilling for me. In many ways, it was my favorite part.

"Editorial was really exciting. You can study and scrutinize in a wonderfully artistic way every image that you gathered.

"After that, I fell in love with the color correction and digital intermediate, where you can change the feel of the imagery," Affleck adds. He did this work at Modern VideoFilm, where his team included DI colorist Skip Kimball.

In making career decisions, how much influence does media attention play? He responds: "I think there was a time where I allowed that to affect those decisions and more. I found the less I allow that to affect the decisions I make, the better. Every time (perceptions) get in my head, I make a bad decision. The more I make decisions based on what I think is just good or works for me, the better."

Affleck has already been examining material and looking for his next directorial project. "I'm looking mostly for dramas that are complicated and surprise you," he says.

"My favorite movies are the ones that keep surprising you and are going to challenge you to examine the characters. You might ask yourself how you might be like that, or are they like people you know, that might cause you to re-examine your own life."
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