Sometimes A Great Notion was Newman’s second time out as a director. He was a last minute replacement.
Ted Mahar recalls being on set:
On a lovely summer afternoon in 1970 inside the house the film company built on the Siletz River, I watched Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, Lee Remick, Michael Sarrazin and Richard Jaeckel converse tensely at a dinner table as Richard Colla’s camera glided around at head level. Each spoke as his or her face came into lens view.
The tricky shot required intricate planning and rehearsal of actors, sound and lighting technicians, the camera crew and stagehands to pull back a wall so the camera could orbit the table in one smooth take. It turned out to be exactly what Newman and co-producer John Foreman did not want.
The next morning Colla was not even in Oregon anymore. Newman-Foreman hoped to keep Colla’s firing from Hollywood as long as possible to avoid distracting publicity.
Paul Newman initiated this production, serving as co-executive producer, as well as director and star.