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Things I’ve Learned: Ed Zwick

Things I’ve Learned: Ed Zwick

Things Learned

There are 10 simple rules to great moviemaking. Unfortunately, I never learned them. These are the best I could come up with on short notice…

1. Remember to breathe. You’ve probably worked for two years to get to this moment, and there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get to do it again. You might as well enjoy it.

2. The camera is a Buddha. It sees the world as it is. It doesn’t photograph your expectations or your fantasies. Try to see as the camera sees.

3. No plan survives contact with the enemy. Over-prepare and then be ready to throw it all away when the actor feels his character wouldn’t do it that way.

4. A good idea can come from anywhere. You might as well listen to what others have to say because you’re going to get the credit (and blame) anyway. The key grip has made six times as many movies as you have.

5. Life is messy. It doesn’t stop while you’re talking on the telephone. If it feels too comfortable, it’s probably wrong; if it feels right it’s probably too slow.

6. No movie can ever be funny enough. Surgeons, cops and priests need to laugh, too.

7. An audience’s attention span is even shorter than yours. Fill every moment, stick to the story and try not to shoot the parts you’re going to cut.

8. The actors move the camera, the camera doesn’t move the actors. Unless you have a style, don’t act as if you do.

9. Make your movie for one person at a time. Imagine your fourth grade teacher sitting alone in the dark.

10. Where there is no solution there is no problem. At some point in every production, the director loses faith in the movie and the crew loses faith in the director. Somehow it all works out.

From Glory and Legends of the Fall to The Last Samurai and Blood Diamond, Ed Zwick is a master of epic moviemaking. As a producer, he has lent his talents to such groundbreaking television shows as “thirtysomething” and “My So-Called Life” and won a Best Picture Oscar for John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love. He was also nominated for Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic. Zwick’s latest movie, the World War II epic Defiance, which he wrote, directed and produced, starring Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell, opened December 2008.


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