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Earlier this month, BAMcinématek in New York hosted a weeklong retrospective of the films of Michael Mann. As part of the celebration of the filmmaker and his work, Mann sat down with critic Bilge Ebiri to discuss his career.

Over the 77 minutes featured in the YouTube clip below, Mann reveals that the streets of Chicago inspired the “MTV aesthetic” of 1981’s Thief, he almost used a blues score for that film instead of Tangerine Dream, and it’s the amount of research he does that makes his characters feel so real.


The director also delves into shooting for 19 days in Folsom Prison for his first feature, The Jericho Mile, which was released to television in 1979. As he tells Ebiri, “Eddie Bunker, who was an old time Los Angeles bank robber, put us in contact with Black Gorilla, M.A., Bluebird, and was able to negotiate an agreement amongst these gangs that there would not be a race war [while shooting the film].”

Bunker appeared in Reservoir Dogs as Mr. Blue and became the basis for Jon Voight’s character in Mann’s Heat, and Mann also touches on the scriptwriting process for that 1995 opus. He also discusses why he decided to re-cut Blackhat for this retrospective. Sadly, judging by his reaction in this clip, Mann doesn’t seem too keen on revisiting 1983’s The Keep anytime soon.

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