Director Paul Thomas Anderson’s first film since the acclaimed There Will Be Blood in 2007, The Master combines controversy – the movie was inspired by the early days of Scientology – and acting pedigree in the form of Hoffman and Phoenix.
A charismatic intellectual (Hoffman) launches a religious organization following World War II. A drifter (Phoenix) becomes his right-hand man but as the faith begins to gain a fervent following, the drifter finds himself questioning the belief system and his mentor.
The GoldDerby website, which previews showbusiness honours, has made The Master a favorite for the best picture Oscar, Anderson is frontrunner for best director and Hoffman and Phoenix are in the top five for best actor.
The Master is scheduled for release on September 14, 2012 by The Weinstein Company in the United States and Canada.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy called it “a bold, challenging, brilliantly acted drama that is a must for serious audiences”.
Filming was to begin in August 2010 with Renner starring opposite Hoffman, but was postponed indefinitely in September 2010. In May 2011, after securing financing, the film was given the green-light and filming began in early June 2011 in Vallejo and Sacramento. Shooting took place on Mare Island for a month using the wing of an old hospital and an empty admiral’s mansion for some scenes. In late June 2011 filming took place at Hillside Elementary School in Berkeley.
The film was shot on 65mm film being the first fictional film to be shot in 65mm since Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet in 1996.Mihai Malaimare Jr. served as cinematographer, making The Master Anderson’s first film without cinematographer Robert Elswit.
Adams stated that Anderson would have her appear on set for scenes she was not scheduled to appear in to make her presence felt and at times she had no clue as to whether or not the camera was on her. Anderson compared Phoenix’s commitment to that of Daniel Day-Lewis for his level of concentration stating that Phoenix got into character and stayed there for three months.