July 27, 2022
-How to be a better director? In this video, we'll talk about that. So, Tom, how can I be a better director?
-Hmm. Study acting. How about better director? How about how to be a director, just to be a director. -Out there. -Folks, If you do not have the language of the actor, the actor knows like a dog and the dog part from about 20 yards, they can tell. I'm of the era where you really wouldn't have thought of being a director without studying acting all my favorite directors.
Well, let's start with Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, I mean silent film. These guys were incredible actors who went on to direct. So then as we move up through the years, Erich Von Stroheim, Silent Film director. Take a look at him as the one taking care of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. Right, but incredible director, incredible actor has the weight of the actor, because he studied it. Sydney Pollack.
So it's The Way We Were, Out of Africa, Three Days of the Condor, a favorite film of mine. Sidney Lumet, child actor at five actor on broadway at eight, right. directed Network, 12 Angry Men before that, The Verdict a lot of really, really great films very much in New York filmmaker, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon. He has incredible films. He was acting when he was five.
So if you ever talked to anyone who worked with him, they said, oh, my God, it's just such good, because he was helpful. And then last, but certainly not least, the one that comes to mind is Mike Nichols. [Inaudible] with the group theater, so all these guys folks, they put their time in.
You know, otherwise, you know, we're always fighting in the arts and in life imposter syndrome, where I feel like I'm an imposter. Well, if you feel like an imposter, you haven't trained enough that you'll hit a place where you go, wow, I really feel that I've earned a place here because I actually know something and things. I know something that can make a contribution to other people.
So Mike Nichols virtually created improvisation with Paul Sills and with Elaine May on Broadway, they sell out evenings of theater, not knowing what they're gonna do. That's a particular skill, you know, oh, fell into directing. Suddenly, he's directing the odd couple out of town in summer stock, and he's directing barefoot on the park and broadway. But everybody said, wow.
And again, those two productions were wildly successful, because he really understood what it was. So those of you that aspire to be a director, and we have many of them in our Saturday class, there's no shortcut. Know that you found the way because anybody can teach you how to move a camera. You can learn that in an afternoon. I mean, really? Isn't that tricky? The language of the actor takes time to cultivate.
-Yeah, and I think that's so interesting, because we often have, as you said, we have directors in our class, we have producers, we have actors, but when you're coaching, directors, writers versus actors, you work with them the same way, right?
That... -Pretty much. -Because it's all about if I'm the actor, I'm being my own best self director, how do I speak to myself? And I'm, if I'm watching it as a director, it's how do I speak to actors? How do I language what I want from the actor so that I get it efficiently, and I get what I want. And, and so it's the same language, but it's just you're looking at it from different perspectives.
-Well, and sadly, what I need to say to a lot of actors, when they call me and go, I'm working with someone who clearly doesn't know anything about acting, but his chair says he's the director, avoid at all costs. Do not solicit opinions because he's going to say things or she that will confuse you and not be helpful, because he's feeling like he has to do something, to be the director. So he's going to say really ridiculous things to you that ultimately aren't acceptable. So, if you're an aspiring director, I implore you to make a contribution to the rest of the world and really learn the craft of acting. I mean, you're going to talk to actors. That's really what it is.
Yeah, what I love about really, I've had very, very accomplished directors come and sit my class, and they're going wow, you know, and I remember one of them coming up to me and goes, it all comes back to the script, doesn't it? It's really about the script and going great. Let's go back to 20 films like he's learning he's here tonight. Doesn't have to be here. It's busy. He wants to grow. Remember folks, growth happens only through the faithful use of tools. See only way yeah, it's not a weekend workshop once and now you'll have a career.
Yeah. I don't understand how people think that way. If you sow seeds, fertilize seeds, irrigate seeds, pray for sun, there will be a harvest. But I don't throw a handful of seeds out and think I'm gonna have, you know, acres of produce. It's effortful, but it's joyful work, raise your joy tolerance. So, you want to learn more about directing, subscribe. It's never been easier to be a director.
Because when I was starting out, you had to make a deal with Panavision or Aeroflex. You had to make a deal with Kodak or Fuji Film. Fuji, usually majors better deal because they were more competitive. They didn't have as big a share of the market. Boy, look what happened to both of those? Then you had to figure out lab costs, who's going to do it? Is it going to be deluxe? Is it going to be photo cam, who's you know. You really had to invest and you really had to work hard to raise money.
-Exactly. In our school, the number of great films we look at that are shot on iPhones. It's breathtaking. It's really incredible. So, the technology is accessible to anyone know, but you've got to learn the language of the actor because the language of the actor is the language of the storyteller and it's the same thing in developing a script. And Nick Pileggi and Martin Scorsese wrote GoodFellas based on the former's book.
They then did the same thing again, with casino except Mr. Scorsese said, no, no, no, I don't want to wait for the book. We'll do the opposite. Let's write the screenplay and then you can write the book. I want to make this movie because he just pitched it to him and then based on it's all true stuff, based on true stuff.
So, you know, it's all about story and that's what you learn as the director who studies the life of the actor. But I'm also leaving out talking about Mike Nichols talked about Barefoot in the Park and the odd couple, his first film was Virginia Woolf. Right with Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, etc. To graduate, Carnal Knowledge, a favorite film of mine. If you don't know Carnal Knowledge streaming immediately. You will be knocked out by Ann Margaret. You will be knocked out by Art Garfunkel, right. Candice Bergen and of course, Jack Nicholson usually knocks us out when we expect that. -Well, those the actors or the directors that all the actors want to work with are the ones who can speak the actor's language. -Well, and they're gonna give a better performance.
-Yeah, right. Yeah. Well, cos it's all trust, you trust each other, if you share that language?
-Well, you know, one of the things I learned in my sojourn in the West, which is continuing is that people work with each other over and over again, because it works. It's not out of some nepotism.It's like if this works, and we have a good working relationship, why would I replace it?
When the odds are, it's not going to work any better? And it might not work as well. Right? So that's why you'll see certain filmmakers that you know, they've had the same crew for 10-20 films, because this is my family. And we have a shorthand, we have a language. But in all of your endeavors, aspire to be a partner. Never project. Projects we talk about a lot. I like it, then you know what that guy did? Can you believe that? He did that you too? Oh, Mike, right? partners, we tend to go wow, she's great. Isn't she? Oh man, how much do we love her? So what do you want to eat? Right? I mean, that's the way it goes. So be a partner, be a contributor, make a contribution. Notice that contribution and consciousness and confidence all begin with the same setup.
-Yep. And that's really I was you were just making me think about how are the actors in our studio often talk about how once they start working together and on projects, how they just, they get a bit spoiled because they do have a shorthand because there is a language and a technique that you learn when you're working in the studio, and that way, they just get so much more done. It's so much more fun. Right? Because they have that shorthand.
-And whenever they need an actor outside of that world, they're going oh, it's so much work. We really say things to them 14 different ways to get something out of it. Whereas I could just say this and then he could do it. Let's see we got oh, yeah, of course...
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