Things I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker: Marc Forster

With All I See is You, director Marc Forster consciously pivots back toward the ambiguous feature, the once prevalent film that straddles various genres leaving viewers in potential disagreement with how the narrative threads tie together.

For a moviemaker equally at home on blockbusters like World War Z (2013) and more intimate features like Finding Neverland (2004) or Stranger than Fiction (2006), Forster has impressively maintained a unique visual style that is identifiably his own. All I See is full of his trademark warm impressionistic hues along with more experimental visual effects than one is typically accustomed to viewing in a feature of this scale. Jason Clarke and Blake Lively star in this genre bending psycho-sexual drama as a couple whose marriage is thrown out of balance when a new surgery allows Lively’s character the ability to regain her eyesight. We spoke with Forster to uncover his golden rules of moviemaking.

As told to Caleb Hammond

1. If it doesn’t work on the page, It doesn’t work on-screen either. As a director, the first day on set you’re working sometimes with a crew you know and sometimes there are people you haven’t worked with before. There’s always this nervousness because you’re starting a journey. It’s strange and uncertain. If you feel certain things instinctively don’t feel right, you have to nip it in the bud right then and there. If you sit on it, it will never get better.

2. With your lead actors, state your vision and then connect with your vision, that that’s the movie you want to make, and then support your vision. If you have a feeling that your actor or the lead you’re casting doesn’t understand your vision or doesn’t share your vision, it’s not worth going down that journey, because it will be riddled with conflict throughout. Ultimately you really want a partner.

Marc Forster directing Blake Lively in All I See Is You

3. All of the heavy lifting gets done in pre-production. I’m a director who likes to prepare a lot. Lots of the movie gets done in pre-production on my end. Once you start shooting, it’s really about the actors, finding that juice in them and that story and being able to create that magic happen. All the technical details, whether it’s storyboards or pre-visuals and obviously location scouting (every location has a story in itself), is absolutely crucial to work in pre-production. The process of shooting and execution is more about finding that story with the actors.

4. As one prepares a movie, choosing the right producer, the right line producers to production managers, key crew, the head of the departments, all of those choices ultimately affect the journey. If even one of those choices doesn’t feel right early on, one has to change it. It’s never personal; it’s just what fits into the team in the right. It’s important to push the director’s vision through, but it’s important to be respectful to other people around you. I come from a place where you always want to treat people how you would want to be treated myself. That hopefully also begins with choices about people.

5. Editing is starting from a page one rewrite of the script, and sometimes you must change the structure in the editorial process. I usually try to cut in my head while I’m shooting and I cut a lot myself when I was making student films obviously editing is you’re re-writing the script again. Editing for me is finding the tone. The choice of editor is crucially important because you want to find someone who understands your vision but also understands performance, rhythm, sound, music, lighting: all of these elements. They are not just cutting purely for performance.

Sometimes you can cut one scene and the scene plays out great, when you see that scene on its own, but when you see the scene strung together with the whole movie suddenly the scene feels ultra long or feels incomplete or you feel like you don’t want that emotional payoff at that point of the film. The storytelling may be tonally it may be too light, too dark, too funny. Whatever it is, once you string the film together the tonal application shifts and is being formed in the editing. MM

All I See is You opened in theaters on October 27, 2017, courtesy of Open Road Films. All images courtesy of Open Road Films.

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