tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg December 11, 2016 7:00am-8:01am EST
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: brian moynihan is here. he is chairman and ceo of bankamerica, the second-largest bank behind chase. second only to j.p. morgan chase. bankamerica has success continues to hinge largely on the fate of the u.s. economy. the incoming trump administration has signaled it will roll back some regulation and pursue a massive program of pro-growth. over the last month,
bankamerica's share prices have risen more than 30%. i am pleased to have brian moynihan back at this table. welcome. many things to talk about. so why have your stock prices moved up 30% since the election? brian: i like to take credit, but if you think about what the election has sparked, interest rates will go up, and they anticipate a better economy. the fed has been signaling it. we will see. it would be a surprise if it didn't, quite frankly, rates going up. but mostly, a view that maybe regulation, even if it doesn't go backwards, will go forwards. and you will have a more balanced discussion. that is good for a bank's ability to turn capital. and it's good for growth. at the end of the day, if capitalism succeeds, the economy grows, and banks facilitate that. that is good for banking and the u.s. will be particularly successful.
as a bank. america charlie: will rising interest rates create a dramatic increase in your revenue? brian: it's a significant amount of revenue increase. it has been a long time at low rates, and the business model does better at a little bit higher rate structure. from the consumer side, the rate structure is still very low and very accommodate of two economic -- and very accommodate up to activity. just because the fed funds may be 25 basis points, that's extremely low in historical context. charlie: is the marketplace, not just your stock, in response to the trump possibilities? ofan: talking to the ceo's both public and small companies, if you think about last year at this time, the statistics were not that different. the projections for growth were not that different. the interest rates were not that different, that there was almost a glass half empty mentality.
around business, just worried about people were going to support them to do the global work they needed to do. i think the election changed that. you see the different surveys of business owners and managers, small business owners and consumers. you don't have to guess. the facts are in front of you. even the bloomberg confidence index moved up again. everything that was going wrong is going right. i think that will lead to more activity. charlie: you know the secretary of treasury nominee. brian: i don't know him well personally. i have some teammates who know him better. i think mr. trump is pulling together his team and all of us in the industry and the cross industry are trying to interface and be helpful. charlie: what do you think of trump? brian: i don't know him personally. i think he believes we have to drive growth. and drive the company success. obviously, that played well in the election cycle.
and so what is our job as a company? last time i was here, you had to the fellow who plays hamilton. it reminds me of a story i tell. we have been around for a while. the election in 1800 was pretty tough, and we are still here. our job is to make the country successful and the president successful, and we are going to work to make it happen. and i think, you know, there is a lot of work to do. charlie: what would he do, do you think, that will stimulate growth? tax reform? changing -- creating jobs? trade? is it -- what? is it the stimulus package he might get congress to pass, which is a republican congress, both house and senate? brian: if you look at what people are pointing to in that enthusiasm, it's tax reform, which has two elements to it, lower rates and the repatriation of dollars from outside. that's one. the second element is regulatory balance, having a fair
interchange across all industry for the cost-benefit of regulation and smart, responsible regulation. and i would say the third is really, there is an enthusiasm in the idea that it is ok for a company to be successful because it is tied to workers and growing. that has not been talked about that much. charlie: do you think 4% growth in gdp as possible? -- is possible? brian: i said last year, let's get from 2%-3%. it's good to have a strong goal, but we have to make sure to
percent happens. last year we had a one point something high. the key is just to get there. this is a big economy. it is an $18 trillion economy, five or six times bigger than germany. if the engine turns from 2%-3%, that's a lot of activity. that's bigger than most economies in the world. i don't worry about what could be. i worry about not going backward, going forward. charlie: is the tpp a bad trade deal? brian: history will tell us that. it's interesting when you think that tpa went through. so the concept of the bilateral, there is a lot more power in the executive branch in tpa than there ever was in trade. this is a fascinating question. i think the debate on tpp -- i will let the experts have it. i think, i think the view -- charlie: republicans have been in favor of free trade. brian: absolutely. business roundtable, which i am part of, we are generally in favor of free trade. it gets lost in the job relocation question. in the derailed on that. charlie: is that wrong?
the job relocation question? are the people opposed to tpp right in saying that trade deals hampered jobs and the creation of job loss? brian: to think about trade -- to think about the globalization that has occurred, you can't hold that back. at the end of the day, we have to be competitive as america. and to find the jobs we can win on a daily basis. there are very defined places where we can win, and we have to get people into those jobs. that's a long time. i can read expert material that says it did not have job loss in manufacturing and expert material that says it did. i'm not sure which to believe. no matter what happens, you have to train people in jobs to be valuable at the price we want people to earn in the united states, which is higher than any place in the world. i think that's were a lot of training and thought process has
to go. how do we find competitive jobs in the united states that will survive in the global economy that will survive in a global workforce? charlie: how do we do that? brian: i think it's training. i think it is education. we are down to a 4% unemployment level. it is not likely have an unemployment crisis in this country. charlie: that happened during the obama administration, who was not perceived to be a friend of business. brian: the question will play out and be answered 20 years from now, could it have gone faster or slower? we will see that play out. the economy has been relatively solid in the united states and the unemployment level is low. if you ask people if the job quality is what they want, and
if we have the population going through responsible immigration policies and all of that, you can have the population growing faster. population growth has slowed by half, and that gets into the complexity of immigration, but the reality is, we need more people than we are producing because we can employ them. we just have to channel them to the right job. ♪
♪ charlie: one of the interesting things happening in the world is populism. brexit, for example. what impact does that have on decisions you have to make about bankamerica? employees you might have in london or wherever it might be. brian: there are technical issues when britain separates from the eu and we have to figure out how to operate as if they are two separate enterprises. that is technical. i would probably back a little bit off that and think -- there are two things to think about. when you run a big company, the uncertainty of an election cycle, the unpredictability, polls being wrong one after another, i think it's interesting. italy again this week, became clear it might not go through. if you watch the market reaction now, they are saying the unpredictable outcome is the predictable outcome. if you think about it, brexit a
couple days down -- then right back up. a few days after brexit, life will go on. u.s. election. the french first round. if you think about this, hopefully, what it will signal is that the government is going to do what is in the best interest of their people, and i think people have to believe that. the political rhetoric that says, the outcome is this wide -- it is usually much narrower. when you run a big company, you have to be prepared for the worst outcome. unfortunately, in some ways, the unstable outcome has been true in all of these, but not much has happened, that's the good interesting part. charlie: i just saw this in the wall street journal. "banks to donald trump -- don't kill dodd-frank." what kind of regulation hole back would banks advocate? upan: when you read , i thinkn like that
what we are saying is, be careful. if we don't have that in place, what we end up having is a dispersion of the industry, and then it is hard to keep track of where the issues are and get them taken care of. a lot of the principles of dodd-frank were geared to the right ways to address the issues at the time. the question, the hard question, is the insurance policy worth the price of growth? -- the potential growth. if you have more capital. i get asked this question a lot and try to explain it to a lot of people. if you think of our company -- and how we have to have capital levels. let's say you and i were running a shirt business and we had 10 factories. what the rules say in dodd-frank
about our shirt manufacturing company is that we can only operate seven shirt factories. three we have to leave idol so that very unusual time when there might be enough to men that facility, we never want a shortage of shirts. question is, what if there were two extra factories instead of three. we have to make sure we have enough for that time when there might be enough demand to fill it. the difference, to put it in numbers, would be $16 billion in capital. it doesn't mean you have no insurance. two out of nine or two out of seven. but think about that. three idle factories for that once-in-a-lifetime chance that i would have to produce enough shirts to meet that demand and that's $160 billion in loans. that would help growth. that is the debate. is the insurance policy right? and then there is the
implementation, regulation, and work around. when you think about that analogy, you think about one other thing. it banks and the large banking system is responsible for each other under the insurance process. when a company fails, we all have to keep the fdic fund it. -- fdic insurance fund funded. we have a stark interest in making sure the places well regulated because it is our shareholders that pay if another bank goes down. and so the stability is important to the system. we are saying responsible regulation. that is why you are not hearing let's pull this out. a lot of this is right. we never disagreed with that, we run me companies that way. -- the companies that way. charlie: i think you can see that in terms of -- i talked to some banking executives who lobbied against dodd-frank, but only certain aspects. they were happy to have certain aspects of dodd-frank. brian: capital liquidity and stress tests are very valuable because what that says to
american society and the world is we can test every year, and then we test every quarter, whether these guys can survive a really bad outcome. if they can, that gives confidence to the system that they will be there in times of stress. the question is, ok, the pendulum swings. how do you bring it back? how is it implemented? how many of these rules that have to many interpretations are getting far away from what they need to stop? charlie: do you think there needs to be more regulation of shadow banks? brian: that is the question of the tent. one of the things we like about dodd-frank is it put everybody under the tent. jpmorgan, morgan stanley, bankamerica, we are all in the same regulatory scheme. there might be nuances. but shadow banking, by definition, is outside that. that can do two things. charlie: explain what shadow banking is. hedge funds --
brian: hedge funds, nonregulated lenders, hov's, things that tend to come and go. in times of stress, that causes disruption. if is very small, sort of who cares? if it's bigger, it can have a bigger impact. before the crisis in the mortgage market, most mortgage companies were not regulated. a big one being countrywide which we had to clean up. that ended up disrupting the whole business world. in the securities firm, same thing. we think there is too much going on outside and it needs to be brought back into the tent. that needs to be done carefully because some of the reason why it's out there is because the rules have to be amended to allow it to come back in. charlie: donald trump campaigned as a voice for people who did not have a voice. primarily. and he campaigned against the establishment. he did not campaign against wall street in the same way bernie sanders campaigned against wall street.
but what we see is as he puts his cabinet together, there are a lot of rich people, and a number of people from wall street, the treasury secretary, the commerce secretary nominee come from wall street. he seems to be appointing people he knows. brian: right. is that different from any other president we have elected? it is their choice. they got the mandate from the people. charlie: you say let him appoint the people he feels can get the job done he promised he would do. if that is wall street types, if those are the best people to help them accomplish what he promised his supporters he would deliver, then -- brian: then we have to hold him accountable to get the job done. charlie: you think this system will hold him accountable if he does not achieve his gold? brian: if you think back to the early days, at some point, they used to have the vice president
be the guy who finished second. that caused disruption in the government. you have had eight years of president obama and the administration. every time it switches, there is great handwringing. oh my god, who is coming through? it works. it works or we would not be here. charlie: yeah, but in 2008, when i would talk to tim geithner and people like that they would say the most important surprise to them was how fragile the system was, the u.s. economic system. how close it came to tottering. have we eliminated that through regulation? brian: tim was right, but it actually started in 2006. it took two years. that's what we have to remember. what went wrong in 2005 in 2006 and really started happening in 2006 that led to 2008. lehman brothers was kind of the end of the trail. it was pretty ugly there for a while. and you know, corporate america quick funding for a time.
what happened with the fixes is -- so the question is, can you test the hypothesis that the system isn't as fragile? that is what the stress tests do. you basically emulate a more show thatelement and the companies come through, in our company's case and others, we come through with as much capital as we started with before the crisis. so in general, we have twice or three times as much capital. now the question is, where do we stop and start going forward and have a better trade-off between the safety and soundness and the growth engine? charlie: these things have to do with politics and finance, which is climate. you had the president raise questions about climate change. then you had him say he thought there might be some connectivity between human activity and climate change.
then he invited al gore to come in and see him and his daughter. then he appointed someone who was a huge opponent of epa to run epa. mr. trump isuy -- going to be a little harder for us to figure out. but let's step back. if you think about corporate america, whether it was cop 21, a crowning thing, a lot of work -- we all have -- charlie: this is the paris agreement. brian: we have a program with $125 billion in environmental initiatives. it is part of our sustainable platform we call it, which has a lot more. from 125,000,002 150. we call it green bonds. it's how we have reduced our -- we are financing new energies to
help the cycle change from old energy sources to new energy sources. we cannot stop this from day one. we believe in science at bankamerica. we are pushing it. charlie: you believe in science. brian: we believe climate change is happening and we have to get off fossil fuels, but you need time. we can't turn off all the lights in the building. or you and i would be talking in the dark. charlie: google just announced that in 2017 they will be able to use alternative sources of energy. brian: 2020. charlie: you made a decision. doesn't that show that in corporate america you believe that climate change is real and that everybody has to be involved? if you go across corporate america, that is my point. we have all made those decisions. we all have initiatives. question is, what is the
length of that arc? some believe that arc is tomorrow morning. some people believe they have to get off tomorrow. our view is we have to help finance it. there is a trillion dollar a year financing demand to bring us from where we are to where we want to be. the question for us as american society is, we can't be -- i don't know if the right word is arrogant or selfish. as well as others saying, hey, we got here this way and you in africa are not going to get a hour grid because we don't believe you can do it. we don't change how we run bankamerica through election cycles. our environmental program goes back to my predecessors predecessor. look at, we do not change how we run bank of america through election cycles. it has been made, doubled, redoubled, and now three and a half times is i guess what the math would be. i am different from a lot of
-- but i do not think i am different from a lot of ceo's. it is the difference between being told how to do it or figuring out how to help. we like to figure out how to help. that's why we worked with the u.n. to figure out the financing needs to accomplish this purpose. to spend a lot of time to figure it out, because it is huge. it is going to take the world to do this. charlie: you have to make a decision to go forward. could what happened at wells fargo have happened at bank of america? brian: we run the business to get depth of wallet in balance and we don't sell it. we have 10% less checking accounts they and we did eight or nine years ago. they are more important. more primary. it's a different model. we have been asked this question a lot and we have had to do a lot of work. regulators are looking at all the banks.
all of the banks, actually. but it comes back to the way we serve our purpose. we don't sell to sell. we focus on the depth of the relationship. a lot of people say that, but that is what we focus on and measure. we don't just try to get market share. we really want charlie rose's basic checking account where all of the money goes through. his credit card, his auto loan, and we just keep working, working, working. we don't have sales goals just to sell. we have sales goals to integrate the relationship. we balance them with customer satisfaction and other things. we have not found anything. charlie: if you look at the high-tech world, there is apple, amazon, facebook, google, microsoft. you look at big banks, there is jpmorgan, wells fargo, bank of america. how are they different? brian: the weighting of the business models is different. we are probably between -- jp
morgan is more the institutional side of the house and wells fargo is more weighted to the retail side of the house. what makes us different is we have the largest retail platform in the united states and the largest wealth management business. that is what makes our business model unique. we go to war with those guys every day. it's extremely competitive. at the end of the day, we admire them as competitors, but we go to war to win against them. our business model is more of a hybrid between capital markets, trading, and wealth management, and retail. each of those is weighted a little differently. when bank of america bought fleet in 2003 and 2004, we pushed a 10% deposit share in the united states. there was a law passed that said you cannot acquire if you are above 10%. when the bank of america bought fleet, that was the bank that passed.
organically and we are up to about 14% or something like that. but you cannot acquire. and so one of the nice things i have in my life is i cannot make any acquisitions of anyone who has a deposit franchise in the united states. my competitors have to think about what is next. i have to think about how i do a great job for the shareholders, customers, and community. frankly it saves us a lot of , energy. charlie: what is your five-year plan? brian: on the consumer side, to drive the digital world -- whatever name you want to use -- we have to drive that and keep -- just drive the transformation of how people live from physical to digital. on the wealth management side, you hear about artificial intelligence. robot drivers, things like that.
we have to lower the cost of investing. on the institutional side, it's to maintain our position as a top-tier player in capital markets. quite frankly, we don't try to just grow for its own sake. it really interfaces well with the business by if you say what will people remember about bank of america if we get it right over the next five years, it is the progress we have made with the consumer and the wealth management side, which is pretty great already. it is pretty amazing what we have done over the last five years. or six or seven years in consumer banking. charlie: who has the largest footprint? brian: the largest footprint, citi's u.s. retail presence is smaller. i think jp is the biggest around the world. we are overseas, we are probably , third or fourth, which is fine. in a given category. and then we are trying to grow. charlie: if you look at the global economy, where are we?
we have fluctuating oil prices. energy became a factor. we had a slowdown in china. that became a factor. we have the rise of populism. that became a factor. what is driving the global economy? brian: you just laid out an interesting year. since the last time i talk to you, all that happened. none of us really predicted. so, you start from two basic things. one is, we have a tremendous research team that is just tremendous, number one rated five or six years in a row. that is a dynasty when you compare it to a basketball program. the duke basketball program. so they took a little over 3% gdp growth for next year around the world. you always have to start with the united states because it is so big. charlie: what about china? 6% or 7%? brian: they are probably in the
sixes, but think about china. china is always hard to figure out. china is going to be ok. they have ebbs and flows. they are in a massive transformation. it's hard to imagine outside. but they think it is ok. and india gets a little -- we had people backing off on india. last year when i was here, i think we talked about india being a place that people were going to. and they are backing off. they are still trying to make a change and sometimes disrupt economic growth. but you know, i think there are great prospects in india. it continues to develop and i think he is a leader that is very dedicated to where they're going to go, and he keeps driving the country. serve you say, what are the worries in the world? they are the same worry says last year. with all the different things, with the italy situation last week, i think with china the impact -- china on the u.s. is not as much of an issue as it is on other economies. europe's more connected to china. the reality is, yes, we send them stuff, but not as much.
europe is much more dependent on exports to china. and the rest of asia, obviously, plays off of china. our experts -- if you think about the u.s., what we are seeing in the u.s. is spending is accelerating this year. if you think about 2014-2016, the rate of spending went up, and we are seeing it accelerate again. that's good news. if you see that play out in the world, when you have one big economy pushing the right direction, that is a good anchor for the rest of the world. last year, the u.s. did not grow as much as we would all want, but because it kept growing, the parade of interesting out there kept going. it did not knock anybody of
course because they u.s. played along. and that is a testimony to the capitalism of the u.s. plus, policies have been very accommodative. charlie: how would you assess barack obama's management of the economy? brian: i think he came in at the most difficult of times. the tail end of the bush administration was no cup of tea. they had to make decisions. they had to do unprecedented things. they had to solve the problems they had to solve. and i think at the end of the day, they created a stimulus which people will argue about the measure that it worked. but you just need to do stuff to show you are going to try. and by the way, relative to the , rest of the world, think of where we are today. think of the banking system here and the banking system in italy. it's 10 years later, guys. what going on? i think they made the right choices. they forced recapitalization.
and frankly, we are lucky we had management teams in enterprises that said hey, we have to hunker down and get ourselves in shape fast, under pressure from shareholder regimes. i woke up one day and we kept talking about capital. isaac guys, remember, we don't have to this capital until 2019. it's 2014. i think they did the right thing in the obama administration, put us on the right course and pushed us along. i think when we look back, could we have grown faster, that's a great debate. it played out a little bit in the election. not mr. obama, he was finished, but in terms of his term.
somebody will tell that story in 10 years. but the reality is, given those tough times, they did a marvelous job of getting the country settled back down, getting the economy settled back down, and providing the kind of leadership it took. the question now is what policy do we need for this different time? and that is the debate going on. charlie: thank you for coming. brian: it's good to be here again. charlie: brian moynihan, bank of america. back in a moment. stay with us. ♪
♪ charlie: kenneth lonergan is here. his newest film is "manchester his newest film is "manchester by the sea," stars casey affleck and lee hedges, about a man who returns to his home town to look after his nephew after the death of his older brother. it has been named best film of the year by the national board of review. here is a look. [video clip] >> i don't understand. >> which part are you having trouble with? >> i can't be his guardian. >> well. uh. >> i mean. i can't. >> well, naturally, i assumed joe had discussed all this with you. >> no, he didn't. no.
>> uh, i -- i -- i have to say, i am somewhat taken about. -- taken aback. joe has provided for him. >> i can't commute from boston every day until he turns 18. >> i think the idea was that you would relocate. >> relocate? to where? here? >> as you can see, your brother worked it out extremely carefully. charlie: i am pleased to have kenneth lonergan back at this table. when you watch that, what you see? what do your eyes see? kenneth: casey and how lost he is, all the turmoil inside him. and also josh hamilton. he plays the scene with him and has been in many of my plays. i just love actors. just all the little things that are happening moment to moment. josh is totally thrown, because
he thought it was going to be fairly routine. and that is the kind of thing that makes scenes work for me. the costume designer who is a very good friend of mine who saw the film early on said, i just keep seeing casey's eyes. this was the first day of shooting, and i felt like we were really -- charlie: on your way. kenneth: off to a good start. charlie: every good director i know loves actors. can you be a good director and not love actors? kenneth: i think so. it depends on what your interest is. hitchcock famously said he didn't. it's a little unclear whether he did or not. charley: he was a dam good director, yes. kenneth stanley kubrick, i : think, was a little less interested in acting and delving into the depth of the performance, but very interested in human beings. i think it just depends. but i think most directors are
interested in actors, primarily. charlie: is it different directing stage versus film? kenneth: no, it's the same process with different tools. you want to get the actors to a place where they are comfortable, where they are spontaneous within artificial guidelines. on a set, you have multiple takes, changing the angles of the camera, and a big crew looking at you. in a play, you have to do the same thing over and over again, but do it the same way. charlie: do they become part of a different set every day in the theater because they are different? kenneth: yes, i once saw christopher walken interviewed and he said at the bottom of every cast list it should say "the audience." because they are there. you don't want to play just to them, but you would be false if you ignore the fact that there are 200-500 people in the room. it's a little hard to quantify. you take them in in some way.
their energy in their different responses in form that night's -- in forms that night performance, and it's always different, because the audience is always different. charlie: if you are a good stage actor, should you be a good film actor? kenneth: i think it's easier to go from stage to film than film to stage. i do not think that used to be the case when film was newer but now there are so many actors that are comfortable in front of a camera and can act in a quieter, smaller level. it is a little hard sometimes to control a whole performance throughout a two-hour play. your voice has to be louder. you have to be turned outward. you have to not feel false doing that. and then doing the same thing every night by keeping it fresh between yourself, the other actors, and the audience. charlie: how do they do that? kenneth: i don't know. [laughter] kenneth: they work very hard. charlie: you never thought about acting? kenneth: only for fun.
i have such a narrow range. i used to act in high school and i am in each of my films in a very small part. i can either do it or i can't do it depending on the part. i mean, even if i help a friend with his or her addition, if i am reading the other part, sometimes i don't know how to read and sometimes i do. charlie: do the best actors have a technique to get them where they need to go? kenneth: they read the part and see if they have a way or if they don't. charlie: how about casey affleck? kenneth: i think he related to the part right away but had a lot of questions. that was one of the fun things about working with him, he had a lot of questions. charlie: you said he is like a relentless detective. he wants to know everything he possibly could so that he can build a foundation from which to build the scene.
you know he is bringing everything he has to it by being you know he's bringing everything i can think waso help him when i pretending to be the guy when i was writing it. so i think i have at least one version of the character that is useful for the actor to hear about. it at some point i step back and he has to become the person. and there is a gang of other andgs that are casey's casey's alone. that really is about an actor's craft, right there. kenneth: absolutely. and you know, when i try to act, my own voice in my own self kind of gets in the way. for really good actors, when they are trying to act in a part, it is not like that. they are able to use themselves to become the other character. i can do that in my imagination, but if i am not speaking, talking, or being looked at, it's a lot easier for me. charlie: what do you like about
"manchester by the sea" as a movie? kenneth: i like the tremendous effort the characters are making to do the right thing by each other even though they are carrying this tremendous emotional burden. casey is stricken by what happened. he is still every step of the way, he doesn't want to just take care of his nephew, but to take care of him properly. he starts out not wanting to have a personal relationship with him. he just wants to get him set up. the premise of the movie is that dies and casey is given guardianship of his nephew, which he doesn't want. that's the obvious part of the story. what is not so obvious is how he refuses to send the kid away. he could send him to relatives in minnesota. he could send him to his mother, who is very troubled and problematic. he is sticking it out as best he can despite the fact that he is under terrible to rest. charlie: let's take a look at this. >> i can take care of it as far as general maintenance is concerned, but the motor is
going to go at some point. >> there is no allotment for a new motor. unless you know someone who wants to buy it. >> wait a second. i not selling it. >> we are going to be in boston anyway. >> what? since when are we supposed to be in boston? >> take it easy. >> he can always stay with us if he wants to come up weekends. >> do you want to be his guardian? >> well -- >> he doesn't want to be my guardian. [talking over each other] >> jesus christ. >> george, george, george. >> you are welcome anytime. >> i understand. i know. thank you. clip]ideo charlie: so, when he left manchester, what was his state of mind? kenneth: devastated.
he has left town because of the unspeakable tragedy, and his life is essentially destroyed. i think if it were up to him, he would just go. but his brother is not well. he has congestive heart failure, which is chronic, deteriorating condition. he needs help. taking care of his kid and just generally help. so he just generally needs help. so he goes about an hour and a half away so he can be on hand if he is needed. and he goes into a kind of monastic existence in quincy, which is a town south of boston. charlie: and then he gets to come back. kenneth: and it's implied in the story and the screenplay that he comes back periodically when joe has to be hospitalized. he discusses, he comes back to take care of the kid when there is no one else to do it. so he has been in touch but he is detached himself completely from his family and the town he grew up in. charlie: what kind of stories do you like to tell? kenneth: stories about people who are dealing with things that are too big for them. grief. the weight of other people's requirements.
the fact that the world never does what you want it to do. death. other people. institutional difficulties. difficulties with lawyers. difficulties with doctors. difficulties with the law. difficulties just getting through life. charlie: it sounds like you want your characters to be in trouble. kenneth: well, that makes for drama and comedy. [laughter] kenneth: it's hard to imagine a movie where you watch people sitting around happily for an hour and half. charlie: it's 2015. your last film was in 2005. you have been working in the theater in between. my last"margaret," film, wasn't really completed until 2012 because of difficulties, procedural problems with editing and the studio, all of that. but i wrote and directed a play in 2009 called "the starry messenger," that matthew broderick did. last year, i wrote a play called
"hold on to me, darling." at the atlantic theater company. so, i have been pretty busy in the theater. charlie: is it your goal to simply go back and forth between film and theater? kenneth: i don't see why not. i like both quite a bit. they are very different. they are very challenging, very rewarding. when it goes well, it is exciting and gratifying. it's exciting to sit with an audience and watch everyone kind of participating. charlie: is it different for you to watch it alone in a screening room versus watching it with an audience? kenneth: yes, it's completely different. charlie: you can feel their -- kenneth: you feel with the audience -- you immediately pretend you are in the audience and you have all these criticisms year didn't have before.
when it is going well, you can feel it going well. you just see it from other people's point of view the minute you walk in the room. charlie: what is the most satisfying thing about directing? kenneth: i guess when you more or less feel you have successfully put all the elements together. the shots came out the way you want. there are so many things to do. there's the filming, editing, production, sound design, music, cast. whenever any of those elements come together in a scene and makes it saying, that is a good feeling. charlie: and when it doesn't? kenneth: it's very upsetting. it's a nagging feeling that you've got to fix it, and it doesn't ever quite go away. there are 10 minutes worth of little fixes i would still like to make in this movie, but at some point -- charlie: you have to let it go. kenneth: you have to let it go, because at some point your improvements stop it being improvements and you lose the thread. you have to stop. charlie: meaning you can overdo it? kenneth: that shots too long. that's the wrong take.
and at some point, you stop hearing -- if it's a symphony, it's like trying to hear it note by note instead of the full sound. charlie: here is another scene. this one with michelle williams as well. [video clip] >> i don't have anything else to say. >> that's ok. >> i know you have been around. >> he's getting settled in. >> it seems like he's doing pretty good. considering. >> i think he is, yeah. >> i guess you don't know this, but i really kept in touch with joe. >> no, i knew that. >> ok. i didn't know. >> you can see him if you want. >> could we ever have lunch? >> you mean us? you and me? >> yeah.
[end video clip] kenneth: i love them. i don't know how they do it. there's incredible feeling, and incredibly emotional life. it looks like two people having a really difficult discussion. charlie: what goes into your head when you are cutting that scene? two people in conversation. kenneth: it's so complicated, that you have to do it by instinct, and away. 45 takes on either side. five takes four or on either side. you have two cameras going at the same time. there are no performance issues. sometimes, you just start with a take you like and go from there. once you have that in place, you somewhat have to feel your way through. my editor and i -- this was not that hard of a scene to edit because the performances were so
good in all the takes, but we wanted the editing to be up to the level of performance. you just follow the path of what is happening in the situation as best you can. for instance, we can see her say do you want to have lunch or not, and i think it's important to see it. because you see her make that decision. her head turns up and you see her blurt it out. and then you must see his reaction. because he has this beautiful reaction. so, those are two shots you want. you put them in the machine, and you are off and running. where you put the camera changes the conversation. it's amazing what you can do and how many ways you can do it. you have to follow some instinct. the other funny thing about editing is, you're in the editing room, and you will put together a few shots, and then you will think, we held on them for too long there. and you have no idea why, but everyone in the room will agree with that. i don't know if it's a musical
sense mentally. charlie: i think it is probably music and experience, too. i mean, i don't think you are born with it, necessarily, but there are people who you just knew their instinctive sense was so strong. kenneth: yeah, it's so important. i guess it's also where -- what -- you know, if you could go back and say ok, this is the story of a girl who builds up the courage to ask her ex-husband out to lunch. and then after that happens, it becomes the story of a man who can't bear it and has to get out of the conversation. and the next shot it becomes a different -- there must be a narrative in the editing that you don't think of intellectually, but you understand as you are following the conversation. charlie: he is so damaged that he cannot think of reconciliation.
kenneth: he can't talk to her. it's too painful. he's lost her. he's lost everything. he's barely getting through the day just talking to other people, and she's at the center of his distress, and she's not -- they still care for each other, but the relationship is over. charlie: do you want to make a comedy? kenneth: yeah, i would like to make a comedy. this movie, believe it or not, has a lot of laughs. [laughter] kenneth: i like humor just as much as anything else. i like to put humor in everything i do. that scene we just saw is pretty melancholy, but there is quite a lot of humor in the movie. casey is pretty funny. lucas is funny. cj wilson is wonderful. he was in the boat with them. he is a wonderful actor also. charlie: i read that you never write without some humor. casey said -- kenneth: i think so, i hope so.
my goal is to have it be real. if it is real, it is going to feel real, it is going to have some humor in it. charlie: it has humor. kenneth: it does in very strange places. there are no joke zones, and they are pretty grim. but i find in ordinary life, any way, they don't last as long. you and i might be in a no-joke zone, but backstage, they are not in the same zone. charlie: i will ask a stupid question. our use of by the response to the film? kenneth: i am a little. it's a film about grief. it's also a film about how much people care about each other through grief. in that way, i am gratified that people like it. but i am a little surprised. charlie: i wish much success to you. thank you so much for being here. "manchester by the sea" is the film.