Charlie Kaufman: "It Has Gotten Considerably Harder for Me" to Get Projects Made

Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images
Charlie Kaufman

"I need to earn a salary. I am doing what I can to make a living, but hoping to do what I would like to do," the writer and director says.

Charlie Kaufman said Friday that making independent films in the U.S. has been getting more and more difficult for him. 

The writer and director admitted to taking jobs to pay the bills as he struggles to get his own projects made, such as animated feature Anomalisa.

He spoke to media at the 51st edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, where he is due to get the honorary President’s Crystal Globe award at its closing ceremony Saturday night.

“I’ve just written a script for Paramount that I would like to have made,” Kaufman told journalists, without providing details. “I am basically trying to keep my head above water ... at this point in the film business I am taking assignments when I get them; I need to earn a salary. I am doing what I can to make a living, but hoping to do what I would like to do.”

Kaufman made his name after writing the script for Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 2004. He launched his career as a director in 2008 after working with both Gondry and Spike Jonze. 

“It has gotten considerably harder for me to get things made," he explained on Friday. "The early movies I made in collaboration with established directors, but since 2008 I have been working to direct my own movies.”

Kaufman’s first film as a director, Synedoche, New York was not a commercial success despite a cast that includes Philip Seymour Hoffman and Samantha Morton. “That hurt my chances,” Kaufman said.

His latest film with Duke Johnson, animated feature Anomalisa, about a telephone call center manager who is tasked with motivating his co-workers, was nominated at the Golden Globes and Oscars this year. The film screened out of competition at Karlovy Vary.

Although known for working well outside the mainstream, Kaufman says he would not rule out directing a superhero movie — provided he was given freedom to do it his own way.

"I’d love to make an animated horror movie,” he added. “Something that is really frightening. I think this form [animation] would lend itself to some really nightmarish stuff.”