All entries for September 2005

September 26, 2005

What Kind Of Audience Are You?

I was having a conversation with a friend, which ranged across economics and sociology and philosophy and eventually, as conversations with me invariably do, end up in film. And from the conversation I realised something that seems trivial, but is something that hasn't been thought about, as far as I know.

There are two kinds of audiences.

The kind that I belong to, are the escapists. We love Hollywood movies – they way Hollywood tell stories that are above us, in the skies, stories that can only exist in our imaginations, or in the historical past, or of people who are bigger than us, who did extraordinary things. When we watch the movies we join the characters. We are inside the screen.

I don't know whether I can generalise this – I probably can't so I'll just say this of myself. The reason why I enjoy such movies is because the world I live in, reality, is boring. My friend says I'm a nihilist. Anyways, I find that my life is mundane. Routine. Nothing eventful happens. Whenever something does – something that isn't exactly significant, like when Malaysia was plunged into a complete blackout due to the failings of one major electric grid a decade ago and the whole family had to sleep in the living room – it excites me tremendously. In movies, life is always eventful. Black Hawk Down. Apollo 13. Terminator 2. Collateral. And so on. Life in movies is much more interesting than life in reality.

Then, there's the other type of audience, the kind my friend belongs to. The kind Yasmin Ahmad belongs to. Many Asian films belong in this category, as do quite a lot of European productions. These are movies about the mundane. Everyday life. As my friend puts it, while we as men dream of building the tallest buildings or going to the moon, movies like these bring us down to the level of everyday life. We are reminded of everyday life, by the camera focussing on small details like the way we pick our nose when no one's watching, the sound water makes when we wash our hands which we think about at a subconscious level, that when we wake up from sleep our face form pillow-crease patterns, and so on.

To me, such films are boring. I'm already living in reality – why do I need to be reminded by it?

It then occurred to me – that what this means is that, my audience is effectively halved. (Assuming half the audiences of the world belong to one kind.) That whatever movies I choose to make, I don't need to bother with those who are not like me anymore.

That is an interesting thought.

September 25, 2005

The Advert


Iíve been wanting to film a story Iíve had in mind for the last two years. Titled The Lives of Jeremy Wakeham, the basic premise is about a uni student who wakes up to a different life each day. Contact me if you want to find out more.

Will it take up a lot of your time and effort? Definitely. So you will need to be (a) passionate (b) talented (c) ideally both.


  • To try to produce a film with a minimal budget and a minimally experienced cast and crew, and still end up with a film that looks professionally done.
  • To give everyone who has no track record a chance to gain experience and possibly use this as a calling card if they are interested in pursuing a career in filmmaking.
  • To get myself into film festivals (there are 600 around the world).


  • A Producer
  • A Writer

If youíre interested in any other roles, whether cinematography or scoring or acting, youíre welcome to come talk to me as well.

Contact me at 07761 765 120 or (e-mail & MSN).

PS Ė Iím not going to lie to you. I'm not going to tell you that this will be fun and exciting and easy. I can tell you it will be all of that when the film is done.

On Le Réalisateur, And Job Descriptions

I mentioned in a previous post that in a film production, the director is king. Everyone else, the cast and crew and so on, are there to serve the director's vision (a phrase that gets bandied about a lot). If that evokes images of minions running around to do the master's bidding, then you got the wrong idea.

This is the truth of the matter. How the movie turns out in the end depends on who the producer and director picked to do each job. Every actor is different, just as every cinematographer has different styles and methods, every score composer has different tastes, and so on. Thinking mathematically, how the movie looks like in the end (the result) is a sum of all the different personalities, tastes, styles and creative input of the cast and crew involved in any production. You change any variable, and the movie will be different somewhat. Of course, you'll never know how different.

So where does the director come in? How is he or she significant? The director's vision is essentially the underlying 'something' of the movie. Some directors will be tyrants, and will readily squeeze and prod his cast and crew to give something to him a certain way. Others might not really have a clue what they're doing and actually rely very heavily on his crew's inputs. As usual, balance is always good.

The point of saying all that, is to acknowledge the fact that – I am at the mercy of whoever decides to take part in this (very much foolhardy) endeavour.

To quote one of Hollywood's best editors, Walter Murch (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now Redux),

A talented director lays out opportunities that can be seized by other people – by other heads of departments, and by the actors, who are in effect heads of their own departments. This is the real function of the director, I believe. And then to protect that communal vision by accepting or rejecting certain contributions. The director is ultimately the immune system of the film.

[Note to myself: on directing ]

So, who do I need for this particular production?

PRODUCER – someone who can get the job done, and get whatever I ask for. This includes song rights, negotiating to get equipment, dealing with post-production houses, possibly getting location permits, and so on. A partner in discussing various technical, financial, creative and production issues.

WRITER – your job is mainly to assist me on painting the script. I've spent months developing the ideas and philosophies and themes lurking in the background of the story, as well as formulating drafts – in effect, it's like the pencil markings on the canvas is there. Your job is to take that and paint it. You have to impress me with your ideas – as a cinematic writer, not a poet or columnist or short story writer. You have essentially one month to deliver the final draft.

CASTING DIRECTOR - well, read this. And you have a very short time (possibly a fortnight) to organise auditions and help pick the best actors for the story. Keen, instinctive eye on picking out good performers. The most challenging part (more so than the average Hollywood commercial film) is to pick up to 6 actors to play the exact same character.

CINEMATOGRAPHER - sometimes called the Director of Photography (DP). You need to very quickly get yourself in tune with technical stuff such as depth of field, shutter speeds, and very importantly filters and lighting. You need to familiarise yourself with the camera really quickly. You have ONE TERM to learn all that. Then, you need to know your stuff well enough that you can just decide there and then on set what to do. And since I'm not that keen on angles and stuff, you will become the closest collaborator with me on set. [I'm considering getting people who are already pretty good in photography and who are interested in moving pictures to take this job.]

SCORE COMPOSER – the music for the movie is for the most part melancholic, alienating, slow and reflective. Also, you'll need to know that I hate electric guitars and cheesy synths. Basically I hope to have Thomas Newman-style scores – examples of tracks are Any Other Name in American Beauty, or Road To Perdition in said movie, or the incredible final minute of the End Title in In The Bedroom. All utilise piano with ethereal synths.

SOUND RECORDIST - it sounds like a boring job but your job is in a way more important than the DP. Indies always fail becoz the sound quality is bad or inaudible – audiences are more readily able to forgive bad images than bad sound. So, you also need to quickly learn the technical side of things (much less complicated than cinematography) and how to deliver good audio. And be very meticulous about it.

EDITOR – you will probably need to be familiar with Final Cut Pro HD. The way I expect we'll work is to edit the dailies at the end of the day of production, so when the film shoot is done basically the rough cut will already be available.

SOUND DESIGN – assist the editor in coming up with sound effects and foley and recording them. If you love playing around with sound and have spent hours just tweaking your music, for example, this might be it. You will not have much time to do the sound design and foley for the movie – possibly less than a week.

PUBLICIST – figure out a promotional (and possibly distributional, depending on how ambitious we get) strategy with the producer. Plan a strategy for submission to film festivals. Plan a strategy to hype up about the production within Warwick.

There will be other crew members that I'll need and I'll update this post as I think of them. As of yet I don't need special effects. As for the cast, well, I'll deal with those later. If any of you think that this might actually work and that it's something you want to take part in, let me know and I'll send you the script for your consideration … which isn't quite done yet but I'm almost there. If you think trying to make a film here in Warwick is the stupidest idea ever and is a bloody waste of time, well, let me know as well.

September 22, 2005

What Do You Go To Movies For?

Movie image
War Of The Worlds
5 out of 5 stars

Okay, this might be a tad unfair coz it's not entirely a review. I'll start with one anyway.

It's a 10/10.

Review ends. Rambling begins.

Many people didn't like this movie. That vexes me a lot – when people don't like movies that I like, it really vexes me. That's insane, you say … and actually, I agree. Why should I worry about whether or not someone else likes a movie I like?

I don't really know how to answer that yet. I can say that one big reason why that is so is that many times people miss the point. As I have mentioned in a previous post – most, if not all film critics fall into this category.

Thing is, it takes a huge effort to make a film – it also takes a huge effort for the audience to understand that. I think it was Billy Wilder who said, "Audiences don't know somebody sits down and writes a picture. They think the actors make it up as they go along." The set is already there. The music – how difficult is it anyway? Special effects? Easy peasy – takes probably a couple of weeks.

Partly what that huge effort in making a film leads to is a LOT of time to think about how to structure the plot and pacing so that the audience pays full attention, how to manipulate the audience into a certain emotion here, how to make the audience understand this point there without making it too obvious and thereby insulting their intelligence. Plus, all 300 people involved in making the film need to agree on exactly what needs to be done, and be able and willing to do that.

So, what of that? In War Of The Worlds there were many criticisms about plotholes – the working camcorder, the only working car, the Ferriers are the only one who descend upon Ogilvy's house, and so on. Too lucky. And Robbie surviving and actually getting to Boston before Ray and Rachel. Spielberg's a pussy, they say. Wouldn't let a kid die. Forced happy ending. Completely nonsensical – how could he survive the wall of fire?

What people don't realise is that we are looking at the story of a family who survived. Three months down the road at the endpoint of the movie – let's say news networks and all have been brought back to basic working order. People are beginning to watch TV. And let's say that Oprah survived, and is determined to go on with her show. The Ferrier family would be THE family to be interviewed. They were the lucky few who survived intact. Completely intact. Many close calls – but they were fortunate. It's miraculous – but these things happen. Did they have a hard time? Did Ray have to see the consequences of him carrying the gun, and kill Ogilvy to protect Rachel and himself?

As for the very much abrupt ending – what would you have Spielberg do? Put yourself in the director's shoes. The movie has ended when the family reunites. What more are you going to tell, to show? Do you want to show a three months later sequence? That would be boring the hell out of an audience who wants to go back. Besides, it doesn't seem consistent to the decision to tell the story chronologically and in a in-the-moment manner. Also, peculiarly to Spielberg, he has been criticised many times for throwing in the 'fourth act'. (A.I., The Terminal, The Lost World, etc.)

The ending also reveals another aspect of the movie that makes it different from all other alien invasion movies that has come before. There are no longer scientists there to explain everything as if they immediately knew what's going on. No longer presidents and generals to make decisions to strike at the aliens. No longer heroes who are ordinary people called on to take on extraordinary missions to save the world. Those are still enjoyable films, really – Independence Day, to me, is still one of the best films of the 90's. Many of you would disagree. Anyways.

In War Of The Worlds, we follow the events that happened from one single family's POV. They do not understand what is happening. They probably guessed immediately that it's an alien invasion – if nothing else, coz Americans are paranoid and alien invasion's the first thing that comes to mind. (And terrorists of course, which is what the little girl thought of first.) They don't see everything that goes on. Maybe there was a city that was being destroyed by 10 tripods simultaneously – what an awesome sight that would have been seen from above! But nope, they don't see that. One tripod is terrifying enough – the human ashes and all.

More importantly – they don't know at the end that the tripods die due to disease. Why do the shields break down? Not sure. Is the tripod partially organic? We never know. Perhaps, three months down the road, when the world is back in order, scientists will announce their results on TV - tripods shut down due to virus. Findings reported in the newspapers. Suddenly everything makes sense. At the end of the movie, when the movie should end, the Ferrier family don't know that. Hence, the Morgan Freeman voice-over in the end to provide closure.

And why do the tripods die? That doesn't make sense. These beings are supposed to be buried millions of years- wait, who told you that? Ogilvy? Why do you assume what he says to be the truth in the film? Still, the point is, these beings are powerful and knowledgeable. They built these machines, man! How could they die from something so insignificant as viruses and bacteria?

Remember when the probe went down into the basement to look for Ogilvy and Ray and Rachel? It noticed a rat, observes – then ignores it. It's primary preoccupation is to exterminate humans. Even if they did detect microorganisms, it is not likely to have garnered much of their attention. If that doesn't make sense, try this - what did we look for when we sent probes to Mars? Did we miss the point? From our point of view, no - coz water is everthing to us. But in Mars, our points of view don't count.

And then there's the explanation about immunity. Aliens have none – they haven't been living here. Wouldn't take more than influenza to knock them dead. (This explanation would lead to the possible afterstory that some of the tripods do survive the germs and the human race is eventually exterminated anyway, though to a far greater cost to the aliens than expected.)

I could keep giving reasons to support the 'plotholes' to the film – and you'd say, but you're only defending the film coz you like it. Now we get to the crux of the matter.

Why did you go and watch a film for, if you're not there to try your best to enjoy it? Some movies appeal naturally to us – we just sit there and we completely enjoy it. If not, well, the director can't please everyone – and since you paid for your ticket, look for what the cast and crew were attempting to do. Look for things they put up on the screen for you, the audience's sake. If there is nothing at all – fair enough, you don't like the film. That's fair game.

Watching a film is about immersing oneself in the story. Are you inside the screen or outside? Ideally the kind of attitude that audiences should bring to the cinema is one of trying to understand what the director is trying to portray – not what you think about this and that. There's always time for debates after the film. Again, if you really can't do that – it's not your sort of film.

Watching War Of The Worlds was one of the most intense experiences I've had. I went home carrying that sense of having been through the most frightening and sickening of experiences. I really liked what Spielberg did. I was utterly surprised that many, probably more than half of the people who went in walked out completely unhappy, screaming that cheesy lament 'I want my two hours back'.

Perhaps I'll understand why that is so some day.

Next stop for Spielberg – Munich.

September 20, 2005

I Hate Artsy–Fartsy

With days left before the new academic year begins, I shall now begin talking about the film I'm planning to do, and why I want it to be more Hollywood-style.

(Before you get turned off by that, just read on about what I mean by 'Hollywood-style'. It does not mean 'hyped-up movies with bombs and sex and cheesiness'.)

Titled The Lives Of Jeremy Wakeham, the story tells of a jaded university student who wakes up to different lives every day. He doesn't know why or how it happens, but as he slowly begins to accept his strange new existence, he finds himself slowly liberated from his jadedness – for a while.

I hope to go into the filmmaking business one day. The question is, if I do go in, what kind of movies would I be doing?

I love Hollywood movies. Grew up with them. I only really began to watch arthouse, independent and foreign movies when I came to the UK, partly because when I took over as Films and Admin Officer for the Student Cinema I made it a point to watch independent films and select them so that I could bring more diversity to the screening schedule.

At the end of the day, though, I always come back to Hollywood films. From what I observed, Brits generally don't respect Hollywood films – some may enjoy it, some may not; many think of it as trashy or popcorn. I think of Hollywood films as replenishment and adventure. Uplifting, positive films, or romantic comedies – they make our day and keep us happy and hopeful. On top of the world. Epics and historical films transport us to a time and place we will never reach. For a couple of hours, we get to experience how it is like to be in ancient Rome or Mogadishu in Oct 1993.

Europeans, I feel, have a tendency to watch films without that crucial suspension of disbelief. They look at plotholes. They analyse. They think that character should not have done that – suddenly whatever else is happening to the rest of the movie isn't paid attention to. Critics, wherever they are from, are very much like that. They always miss the point.

(This is what I think. Critics are a scourge. They should all be shot. In fact, Roger Ebert constantly misses the point.)

Instead, European films have a different culture to it. Most of the independent and arthouse films come from Europe. I rarely enjoy them. Most of the time I think, 'this is pretentious and boring'. Especially when they include 4 minute shots of a chair trying to make a point (and ultimately not making it at all), or some fancy editing style … In such films, the emphasis is with creating a film as art.

I don't think so. For me, the primary function of a film is to tell a story. Once your film IS a story, then you can sculpt out whatever artistic expression you like. But first and foremost the movie must tell a story. Zhang Yimou's Hero is a good example. Even though it was remembered for its use of colours and breathtaking scenes, when I saw the movie the thing that affected me most was its story.

Hence, I don't care about a movie being some artistic expression or whatever. I don't care. It bores the hell out of me.

Hollywood films generally tell stories. All the best directors of recent times like Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Edward Zwick, James Cameron, Gore Verbinski and so on tell stories. Every decision made before, during and after production are made to make the film feel like one seamless piece of composition. If Ron Howard is being manipulative, he tries his best to hide it – his sincere purpose is to move you to tears, or allow you to share the joy with the characters. If Steven Spielberg uses special effects, his primary concern is to not have you think 'oh, what a cool special effect'. If Ed Zwick wants to tell an epic tale, he is preoccupied with making you FEEL the story, not watch it as a person outside the screen.

Also, the best films in Hollywood generally have a message, or themes, or social commentary. They don't trumpet it around by having the characters spell it out to the audience. But, more significantly, they don't bury it under layers and layers of symbolism so that it is not clear anymore.

I know this is long-winded … but it's my blog and I really want to get this all out coz I have endured enough of people saying Hollywood films suck all the time (not that some Hollywood films don't suck), that they would much rather watch 2046.

The Lives Of Jeremy Wakeham will be a completely British production with a mostly British cast and crew (I expect). Except for me doing an Ang Lee. (Ang Lee directed Sense and Sensibility, and even though he didn't speak much English at the time the film was very much British in its sentiments … yet there is a trace of difference from other English period dramas.)

What I mean by it being 'Hollywood-style' is that I will not be doing cinema verite here. I will not imbue it with meaningless symbolisms unless it reflects the characters or the themes. It will be a straight narrative – it will be a story, and one which hopefully entertains as well as provoking thoughts. And the ending will not be dark and twisted just for the sake of it.

More to be said later.

September 19, 2005

A Punch At The Heart

Movie image
Cinderella Man
5 out of 5 stars

I don't know how Ron Howard does it. There is no longer any doubt. He is the best and most consistent director when it comes to affecting the audience emotionally and just generally telling a good story, a good story when we need it.

And I cried at a movie for the first time in a long time.

That is a significantly unusual outcome. Cinderella Man is a weird title for a movie – at the very least, laughable. Plus, I make it a point to avoid boxing movies. I haven't seen any. I don't care. I avoided Million Dollar Baby, even though it was a good movie, because half of that film was about boxing.

But then reviews streamed through – apparently audiences deemed the movie fit enough to enter the Oscar race for Best Picture next year, though we all know it will in all likelihood not win it. Point is, people said the film was beautiful. And so I went.

And this is what Ron Howard as a director has done time and time again. We know the outcome of the movie. Heroes always win. That's how movies should be like, most of the time. Some audiences (which, from my observations, includes a large proportion Brits) prefer to have dark endings. Cliched, that's what they called happy endings. Cheesy. Lame. Such a wuss – the film doesn't have the guts.

Wrong. Movies should inspire and show us the way most of the time. Let the movie (i.e. the director) decide the best course, the best ending. In the case of Cinderella Man, we know it ends in an uplifting mood.

But with Ron Howard, we enter the boxing matches with that expectation in mind, yet we're still constantly afraid of Jim Braddock falling down, or being given the murderous punch and be left half dying there. There are countless sports movies, or basically any movie with a high suspense level with scenes like these. But no one does it like Howard – you forget that the possibility of the hero winning is quite high.

Howard did it perfectly in Apollo 13. He has done it again here. Howard pulled off the emotional aspects of A Beautiful Mind. Tricked the audience into believing that John Nash's delusions in the first half of the picture was real. And then tricked us again even after we were shown the entire first half was delusional. And never once did we feel like we were manipulated. An indication of a truly masterful storyteller.

You don't need to know whether the acting or cinematography or score or whatnots are great.

Just go see the movie.


Writing A Better Screenplay …

… is about taking your cheesy, obvious and very much on-the-surface script and burying it under layers and layers of subtlety, metaphors, symbolisms, indirect revelations, and somehow still make what you want to say obvious and make the audience enjoy the film.

Near impossible.

September 16, 2005

Oscar 2006 – For Your Consideration

Turns out pundits have already begun predicting Oscar contenders for next year. As much as I hoped Spielberg's War of the Worlds would be one of them, well … it wasn't that popular a film, and, even the very much deserving Spider-Man 2 didn't get it last year simply coz it was a Hollywood blockbuster. Even though characterisation, plotline, social issues and messages addressed and so on were right up there. Anyways.

Obviously the list might be far off from this one – in which case this post will be swiftly deleted – but, it looks like it could be:

Munich – Steven Spielberg
Tale of the aftermath of the Munich Olympic Games terrorist attack, when Israeli Mossad agents are sent to track down and kill the terrorists. And yes, it stars Eric Bana.

Memoirs Of A Geisha – Rob Marshall
The director's last job was the ingenious Chicago. The actresses are some of the biggest Asian stars at this point – Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, and Michelle Yeoh (who comes from Malaysia). Expecting great visuals, scenes, emotions. The lot.

Jarhead – Sam Mendes
Gulf war pic starring Jake Gyllenhaal, from the director of American Beauty and Road To Perdition.

Brokeback Mountain – Ang Lee
Sigh, this is going to be so different from Hulk. The premise made people laugh – story about two gay cowboys. Then the reviews came out and everyone was silenced. Stars (again) Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. And, apparently, unlike Alexander, Lee is not shying away from including homosexual sex scenes.

Cinderella Man – Ron Howard
Weird, silly-sounding title, which has nevertheless garnered critical praise. Nothing groundbreaking, just another example of great filmmaking. I dunno how Howard does it but he manages to squeeze out the emotions he wants from the audiences, and not feel manipulated.

If the list looks like this next year – I'm definitely watching, coz the selection looks very promising. Unlike this year's contenders. Lame.

September 11, 2005

To Derive

During an interview with Spielberg and Cruise while promoting one of this summer's biggest blockbusters, Spielberg had this to say to aspiring filmmakers: it is okay to be derivative in the beginning of your career.

Now, you can have whatever definition of derivative you want. If it makes you feel better, I suppose you can derive plot elements or ideas from other movies, if it helps you make a better movie. For me, as much as possible I'd prefer to avoid that. For me, to derive means to watch movies, many many movies, and try and figure out how they created that tone, that atmosphere, that feeling, that release of emotions in the audience, and see whether I can apply it myself.

Over the course of figuring out the themes and tones of the Jeremy Wakeham story, I came up with a list of movies with elements which I hope to be able to emulate. (If you're interested in helping me draft the screenplay, take note here …)

Snow Falling On Cedars – sensual, focuses on visuals and music

The Return – slow and symbolic/metaphorical, brooding and ominous realism

Chicago – musical structure, fantasy sequences weaving in and out stealthily

Empire Of The Sun – yearning, losing the past

Anywhere But Here – scenes of complete silence which still demands audience attention

Gattaca – frugality of information to audience, not everything is tied up nicely

Solaris – getting into the mind of the protagonist, and staying there throughout the whole movie; no obvious protagonist – but there is conflict

Hitch – every aspect of filmmaking is for the sake of making movie interesting to audience, no flashy stuff

September 08, 2005

Quotes To Keep In Mind

For an example of a demotivational quote, see this.

Moving on, I do think quotes are helpful at encouraging us, keeping us optimistic in the face of near-inevitable defeat, giving us foolish hope that even as everything seems to be falling apart we can still get there. In the event that we do get there, we'll know that hope isn't as foolish as we thought it was – and there's nothing more euphoric than to have been through hell and find out that you've been proven right.

Sometimes though, quotes are good at shooting us down and helping us see a more truthful picture. Like this first one from me:

Filmmaking isn't a democracy. It's more like a dictatorship.

Let me get this straight – I mean it. Film studies students might want to bring in jargon such as 'the auteur theory' but that's not the point. I think the director is king – all the cast and crew are there to serve his vision, and his vision only. If other people cut in, the film will likely end up incoherent. (We know how that worked out for Hollywood when studio execs enter the picture.) The last thing a director with his hands full of decisions to make needs is a crew or cast member throwing tantrums coz the director wouldn't accept their ideas, or decides not to use their contribution.

That does not, however, mean the director doesn't listen to what people have to say, or thinks he can do everything. Adam Smith's division of labour applies very much in filmmaking.

This next one by Malaysian filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad is what motivated me to finally begin the project, and I hope you think about it too.

I'm constantly approached by aspiring young filmmakers. … They come in various shapes, sizes and colours, of course, but I generally place them in one of two categories: those who genuinely love film, and those who love the IDEA of being into film. And I can tell which category they fall in, just by asking one simple question: "Have you shot anything yet?" If their answer is no, then I instantly know that they fall in the second category.

She also quoted this Thai director, Khun Nang, who, when asked what separates a good director from a regular one, replied,

Anyone can direct a film. If you gave her a good cinematographer, even your mother can direct a film. Just point the camera at some people and tell them to act and say something. But to be a good director, you have to do TWO things. ONE, sort out the script. Work and work at it, change it and rearrange it, until you are quite confident that the way you tell the story will move people in the end, and long after the film is over. TWO, choose the right actors. Once you have got these two things right, my dear Yasmin, the film will direct itself. End of lesson.

Let me emphasise that. Great script + Talented actors = Easy Directing Job.

I've also collected a series of quotes and advice from people involved in the industry – unfortunately, for some of them, I've forgotten who quoted what. But I think they're important to keep in mind. Here goes:

When I think about moments in movies that I have loved, itís always about an actor revealing himself or herself. Collaboration between actors and a director can be as exciting and rewarding as creative filmmaking gets. … All filmmaking interaction must remain fluid, open to discovery and surprise, if a film is to come alive.

– by Anthony Minghella, director of The English Patient & Cold Mountain

Whenever you hire somebody, thereís always a fear that theyíre not going to really see what you see. You might as well be on a lifeboat, because if that person is not understanding what youíre seeing, youíre dead, you know? You are relying on them, no matter how domineering you may be. They bring you back stuff they can do that you canít do.

– by Kimberley Peirce, the director of Boys Don't Cry

Itís not about being arbitrarily interesting. Itís not, oh, does that look good? Is that an attractive colour or shot? None of that matters. Itís, is it right?

Bear in mind, the director is the boss and who I listen to. Heís the storyteller.

The one thing you really have to develop is the ability to let go of things.

Iíve learned a long time ago that I cannot talk somebody into liking something. I save myself a lot of trouble and just figure out why they donít like it, and try it again.

– by James Newton Howard, film score composer of Batman Begins, Collateral, and all M. Night Shyamalan films

Music can express what the storyís characters are not willing to express, or are unable to express. Music can supply an emotional rail, so to speak, for the film. Do not reiterate what is already on the screen.

– by James Newton Howard

ĎHow did you get these great people here?í ĎOh, itís easy, I just try to hire people smarter than myself.í

September 2005

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