One Hour Photo

One Hour Photo

Be Flexible

You must have a clear vision of the film—every frame,
every rhythm, every nuance, every sound. However, you must also
remain "open." You must be ready to embrace surprising
opportunities, [the] happy (or unhappy) accidents and be extremely
collaborative. If that sounds like a bit of a contradiction, it
is. Sometimes, you must "bend like a reed in the wind"
or you’ll snap. Sometimes when something appears to be going "wrong,"
it’s actually going "right" and you don’t know it. Have
a strong vision, but be sensitive to the flow of events. It may
be pointing you in the right direction.

Rehearsal = Experimentation

Rehearsing is vital. In many ways, it’s a craft unto
itself. Some actors may not like it, but the set is no place to
mull things over and experiment. It’s too costly and there’s often
no time. You can’t rehearse under pressure. Rehearsal needs to be
a period of freedom, discussion, fun and exploration. You’ll generate
some great new ideas here, and—hopefully—have time to incorporate
them intelligently into the film. Also, do a table reading. It’s
the last time you’ll see the film in continuity.

Don’t Forget Your Inspiration

Keep things around that remind you of the idea or
feeling that originally sparked your excitement about making the
film: a photo, a sentence, an object, etc. As the difficulties and
near constant crisis management of production wear on, often these
original sparks of inspiration can become lost in a miasma of compromise
and fatigue. It’s easy to forget why you wanted to subject yourself
to this nightmare in the first place.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

I think Steven Spielberg suggested to Sam Mendes that
he "wear comfortable shoes." Guess what? He’s right. If
you find a type of shoe that works for you, buy three pairs. You’ll
be on your feet for about six months straight.

Require People to Take Notes

Have tons of pens and pads of paper available for
the crew at all times, especially in pre-production. Make people
write down your notes, requests, suggestions and decisions. Weeks
later, people might have subjective recollections of these conversations.
If someone asks you whether you want 19 or 90 extras for a scene,
and you want 90, make sure they write down "90".

Listen to your Intuition

Always listen to your intuition—that inner voice that’s
telling you what to do. Sometimes you have to be the "enemy
of the people" and do what you know in your heart is right,
even when all those around you are telling you you’re mistaken.
That said, never act rashly.

Don’t Take the Easy Way Out

Filmmaking is hard. Sometimes things seem so difficult
that you want to take the easy way out. Don’t. Often the labor-intensive
way is the best way. It’s nice to be nice, but you’re not there
to make friends and be social. You’re there to try and do something
original and interesting. You can sleep when you’re dead.

The Road to Hackville

This one won’t be popular amongst producers, but here
goes: It’s not the director’s job to make the line producer’s job
easier. It’s the other way around. If the answers to all of his
or her questions is, "Yes, I can do that faster, cheaper, with
fewer extras, a smaller set, etc." then you’ve made their job
easier, but you’ve become a hack.

Assuage Your Conscience

If you get an idea in the editing room, no matter
how weird or odd, try it. The AVID makes it very quick and easy
to make these ideas real. Even if it doesn’t work, it may a) lead
to something you hadn’t thought of, or b) assuage your conscience
that you’ve explored every possible variation.

Ask for Advice

Seek the advice of those who know more than you.

Say Enough

I think it was Mike Nichols who said something to
the effect that "If it’s not saying something about what it
means to be a human being, then it’s not saying enough." This
is a good thing to keep in mind if you start feeling that nagging
sense that what you’re doing might be utter crap.

Preview People are a Different Species

Previews are sort of good for getting a general sense
of when you might be boring people—a sense of the group’s connection
to the story—but don’t pay attention to cards and numbers. People
like to write mean, inflammatory, erroneous (and often creatively
spelled) things on those cards. People that agree to go to movie
previews are a different species from you and me. Follow the energy
of the crowd, but ignore their rants, both positive and negative.
(One Hour Photo previewed horribly, but when it was released
in its final version, did marvelously well with most critics and


Don’t forget to breathe. Meditate during your lunch
break. Tell people to leave you alone for at least 10 uninterrupted
minutes a day.

Be Even Tempered

Work for the work’s sake only. Do not work for
the fruits of your labor. Be even-tempered in success and failure,
for this evenness of temper is what is known as Yoga.
– Bhagavad