Things I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator. Photo: Miramax Films.

The first assembly is a first draft.

When you first put an assembly together, you put in everything the director shot. You don’t try to give it too much shape yet. Then, you attack it in the second cut. So, it’s like a first draft of someone’s writing.

They’ll take the film away from you if they can.

You have to oversee the DVD transfer. Because, boy, will they take it away from you. When you’re a filmmaker, they take it away from you when you go in the lab, when you mix it, when you make the prints for release—you have to be on top of it all the time. Terrible things go on.

Every actor requires a different approach.

Every actor requires a different approach, depending on their style. An actress like Cate Blanchett sometimes hits it on take one. That’s it—done. But there are other actors that Marty likes to work with by building a performance with the two of them together. So then you might have six or seven or eight takes. That takes a lot of care, to make sure you use the right part. There are certain people who improvise beautifully, and certain people who don’t.

Filmography for Thelma Schoonmaker

The Aviator (2004)
Gangs of New York (2002)
Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
My Voyage to Italy (USA)
Kundun (1997)
Grace of My Heart (1996)
Casino (1995)
The Age of Innocence (1993)
Cape Fear (1991)
Goodfellas (1990)
Made in Milan (1990)
New York Stories (1989)
The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
The Color of Money (1986)
After Hours (1985)
The King of Comedy (1983)
Rockshow (1980)
Raging Bull (1980)
Street Scenes (1970)
Woodstock (1970)
The Virgin President (1968)
Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967)
Finnegan’s Wake (1966)

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