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Things I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker

Things I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker

Articles - Cinematography

Find the location that tells the story.

There’s no underestimating the power of the
detail of real locations, whether you build it or go there. The
amount of subtle information
that people can absorb, from anything from the quality of light
to the detail in the background, has an incredibly powerful impact
on performance and on the audience.

Casting couldn’t be more important.

The root of what you sense in an actor is more
important than what kind of work they’ve done before. Charlize may not have played
a role like this before, but at the level of heart and soul, she
had what was necessary: she incredibly strong, she’s incredibly
romantic and incredibly heartfelt. That was more important than
merely looking the part; she had the heart and soul of somebody
who could play Aileen. And if someone doesn’t have those qualities,
it’s almost impossible to teach them.

Looks are secondary.

Looks and everything else is secondary. The qualities a person
may have in common with the character are very hard to teach.

Plan to make money.

You have to have something that will make people
money. You can talk about “should” be made or “could” be made until you are blue
in the face; if you have what other people see as a commodity,
and you own it, then it will get made. Insomuch as there is a massive
video market, I actually benefited from exactly what we ended up
not doing. But the phrase “lesbian serial killer” says you are
going to make $5 million back on that in Asia on video. And once
you get stars involved—Charlize Theron and Christina Ricci—playing
lesbians in a serial killer movie, it sounds financially viable.
It doesn’t sound like a good movie, but somebody can make money
selling it. Then it’s just a matter of keeping your costs below
what it can be sold for. Don’t make a $100 million character film
with no catch to it. It’s just about understanding where money
is made and how.

Understand the limitations of collaboration.

The limits of collaboration are that somebody
has to love and know what movie they are making—and it has to be one person, really.
If there is a tight team and they are partners, great. But the
more singular that vision the better. Because it’s like going through
a jungle on a speedboat: there’s no time to think most of the time.

But understand that you need collaborators.

Surrounding yourself with talented people couldn’t
be more important. Your power is knowing the film you want to

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