After several stints on various British television series, Simon Pegg achieved widespread acclaim for “Spaced,” the award-winning, 14-episode comedy series written by Pegg and his co-star Jessica Stevenson. The show enjoyed a two-series run and was directed by Edgar Wright, who Pegg had worked with before and would work with again on the breakthrough zombie romantic comedy Shaun of the Dead, as well as the buddy cop flick Hot Fuzz, both of which the duo co-wrote.
Recently, Pegg has landed roles in Hollywood films like Mission: Impossibe III, Run Fatboy Run and J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek. On October 3, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, adapted from the Toby Young memoir of the same name and starring Pegg, Kirsten Dunst and Jeff Bridges, will be released in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Here, Pegg shares with us the lessons he’s learned as a moviemaker.
1. There’s no difference between acting on a massive film and acting on a small film, there’s just better catering.
2. Acting isn’t something you think about, you just do it, you just do what you can and that’s it.
3. In terms of being a filmmaker you at some point just stick to your vision and never get into bed with anybody more concerned about money than they are about the film.
4. Surround yourself with people who are interested in the creative process and not necessarily thinking about the financial one.
5. Stick to your guns at all times and have faith in yourself and what you’re doing and not get pushed around and [let your] film get away from you.
6. If you’re shooting a comedy it really helps to have funny people in every facet of the creative process, to help you understand the dynamic of comedy. If you choose a very funny script with an unfunny director it is very possible that that will damage what is on the page.
7. It isn’t just about what’s on the page or how the performance goes; there’s no reason why the direction of the film can’t be funny, too. There are jokes in the way camera moves around or how it’s edited.
8. A lot of directing is instinct and the better instinct a director has, the better director that person is. Good direction is a combination of careful thought and instinct.
9. To make film you have to be true to yourself and find somebody that believes in you and shares your vision to help make your film. Otherwise, you’ll just end up being a journeyman—making films for other people that you have no real emotional investment in and that’s a pretty hollow life, I think. It’s very important to be single-minded.
10. Don’t take any shit… Be absolutely certain and sure of your own vision and stick to it.