Connect with us

Things I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker

Things I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker

Articles - Directing

Actor Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin in The Cooler

Prepare as thoroughly as you can.

I storyboard extensively; it helps me to learn
my film. Sometimes the boards don’t work on the set and that’s fine, but it’s something
to start with—a blueprint that can be deviated from, if necessary.

Don’t let the DP decide.

I don’t think a director should let his DP decide shots for him.
Of course, DPs have great ideas, and many times their ideas are
better than yours—or can be effectively merged with yours—but you’ve
got to bring that strong visualization to the table. Just be prepared
to expand on it.

Don’t keep the movie in your head.

It’s important not to keep the movie just in
your head. Share it.

Hire the best focus pullers in the world.

These guys are gods! If you skimp in that department,
your film is going to suffer for it. I’m a stickler for good focus, and I
move the camera a lot, so it’s challenging. In indie films, when
you don’t have time for a lot of takes, you need an amazing focus
puller. They’re worth their weight in gold.

There’s always an ingenious solution, so don’t
compromise vision

When time is kicking your ass, you need to
be able to make quick decisions on how to make your day. Sometimes
it’s by dropping a
scene that you ultimately don’t need, or cutting a lot of dialogue
or opting for one smart camera move in place of five or six shots.
But don’t just give up on the scene because the clock is ticking.
There’s always an ingenious solution.

Always cast the best actors you can for day players.

Avoid casting friends and family because they’re cheap. You’ll
ruin your entire film and sell out all your good performances.
You pay for what you get. Even if the guy has only one line, a
stiff non-actor is going to pull the audience out of the scene.
Get the best actors you can for even the smallest of roles.

Try to maximize your locations and reduce company moves.

Time is coverage! And time saved is time you put on the screen.
A smart and seasoned line producer is key.

A, B, C: Always be communicating

Make yourself heard… and understood… and
be open to ideas and suggestions. You can never be too clear
about what you’re trying
to achieve. Directors internalize a lot of things and no one knows
the script like you, but you can’t expect everyone to see it the
way you do. They need to know what your vision is, and you need
to impart it upon them freely. Tell everyone your movie. Believe
me, it will rub off.

Treat your crew with respect.

These guys are busting their asses for you—and will continue to
do so if they respect you. Talk to the grips and the electricians
about your vision for the film. Don’t look down upon them. Make
them feel included. Show them your storyboards. Talk about other
movies with them. Acknowledge them and greet them in the mornings.
Thank them after wrap. It’s the small things that earn you big
dividends.

Never stop loving movies…

…or watching them. There’s always somebody who’s doing something
interesting and groundbreaking. Keep learning. Pay tribute to those
with talent; don’t bash them. We need better movies.

Don’t shoot actresses making love with their
bras on.

That’s a pet peeve of mine. It feels fake. No one believes it…
and the whole time the audience is thinking that the actress didn’t
want to get naked, rather than being focused on the scene.

Don’t overscore your movie.

Music is essential. It’s also essential to know when you don’t
need it. You don’t need the music to tell you something we already
know in the scene. It needs to complement the scene, not be redundant.
Too often in horror films and thrillers, the music is foreshadowing
the action and scares to come. The same with romantic comedies
and dramas. I like to hear music in film; I just don’t want to
be beaten over the head by it.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Articles - Directing

  • Articles - Acting

    Editor’s Weekend Pick: Short Term 12

    By

    MovieMaker‘s pick of the films out in theaters this week is the award-winning, heart-pumping Short Term...

  • Articles - Acting

    Fictionalizing Truth: Lee Daniel’s The Butler & More

    By

    We’ve all seen those stately biopics (usually with Oscar aspirations), in which renowned actors portray real-life...

  • Articles

    MovieMaker Editor’s Pick: Prince Avalanche
    by MovieMaker Editors

    By

    MovieMaker’s Editor’s Weekend Pick is director-writer-producer David Gordon Green’s Prince Avalanche, starring Paul Rudd and Emile...

  • Articles

    Thor Freudenthal Sets Sail with Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
    by Kyle Rupprecht

    By

    German-born moviemaker Thor Freudenthal started his career in visual effects and animation, working on such films...

  • Articles - Cinematography

    Best Of: The Most Bodacious Surfing Movies

    By

    Much like an ocean wave, the surfing movie subgenre has seen its share of peaks and...

  • Articles

    Tattoo Nation: Director Eric Schwartz (Part 2)

    By

    In Part One (of this interview, we talked to Colorado-based Tattoo Nation director Eric Schwartz about...

  • Articles - Directing

    Things I’ve Learned As a Moviemaker: Kevin Smith

    By

    Director, screenwriter, sometimes actor, and all-around major geek Kevin Smith has deep roots in independent moviemaking,...

  • Articles - Acting

    Perfectly Paranormal: Ghostbusting in Film

    By

    Where would the world be without the paranormal investigators of cinema? Overrun with evil spirits, demons...

  • Articles

    MovieMaker Editor’s Weekend Pick: Storm Surfers 3D
    by Rory Owen Delaney

    By

    Storm Surfers 3D delivers big wave-riding experience for moviegoers!  This week’s MovieMaker Editor’s Weekend Pick is...

  • Articles

    Laurence Anyways: MovieMaker’s Weekend Pick
    by Kelly Leow

    By

    In recognition of the Supreme Court’s landmark dismissal of California’s Proposition 8 and its striking down...

  • Articles - Directing

    Things I’ve Learned: Neil Jordan’s 12 Golden Rules of Moviemaking

    By

    In the last few years, Neil Jordan, whose career spans three decades, has written and directed...

  • Articles - Directing

    Re-Vamping: Ten Unique Takes on Vampire Mythology

    By

    In celebration of the release of “Byzantium” this Friday, we’ve come up with a selection of...

  • Articles - Directing

    Things I’ve Learned: Gus Van Sant’s Six Golden Rules of Moviemaking

    By

    Gus Van Sant is one of America’s most heralded, iconic independent auteurs.  Based in Portland, Oregon,...

  • Articles - Acting

    Sloppy Seconds: The Best (and Worst) Horror Remakes

    By

    Horror movie remakes are a dime a dozen these days, with retreads of such genre classics...

  • To Top