Project Management Starts with Laying Good Ground Rules

(gentle music) – I see it all very clearly as I’m writing it, so that when I go in, I can see very clearly what I want. Then it’s a matter of not imposing that vision, but seeing what the best way is to bring that vision to life. If we create this space, we know we have the space, we have these two people, this is the arc of the scene. I have an idea that some guy starts seated, some guy starts standing, and this is maybe going to happen. They’re going to end up here, close in frame at the end like that. Let’s try that, let’s see if we can get there. If that works, great, and the actors are comfortable, and it really works, great. If it doesn’t, then we make adjustments. If it’s not working, you have to sit there with yourself or your team and go, okay this is not working, what do we do? How do we make this work? Why isn’t it working? How do we make it work? What is it that we need from this? What does this need to say? So, that’s the overall thing, but getting to that is where then the sort of intimacy and the knowledge of the actor and how to get them to get to those places. If those are indeed the right places to get to. (gentle music) The most crucial part of filmmaking is that it’s a collaboration. And the actors and the director and the designers and the DOP, everybody has to be on the same page. And they have to be able to communicate. They have to be able to give feedback to one another, accept that feedback, throw out more feedback, so on and so forth. It has to be a give and take. Of course, the films I make are very small, which helps because I can take these, I can have everybody basically in a few rooms in a production office, and we can go from the DOP’s office, to my office, to the costume shop, to the production design office, and we can just keep going back and forth. And we can look at swatches of color, we can look at designs, we can look at where we can hide a light in some element of the design, and everybody’s on the same page. And literally within this very close proximity. I like that. What that does is that begins the dialogue, and it begins a dialogue that is instantly collaborative, so that we don’t suddenly get on the set and the walls are pink and you’re wearing a pink sweater. That’s not good. Unless that is a conscious choice that we’ve made. So, that’s where it begins. It has to begin there. Then as the actors come in they have to be a part of that process. (gentle music) There are two ways I go about it. One is we’ve finished a take, I go great, okay that’s great. Now let’s do one, blah blah blah blah blah, like this with a little more of the thing. I love when you did the thing like this. I need this in this moment, blah blah blah. That’s one way. The other way is, do it again. Do it again and make it funnier. Do it again and do it faster. Do it again, count to three before you say it, it becomes very technical. As an actor, I like the same thing. One of the best directions I was ever given was okay, do it better. Now a lot of people would be insulted by that. But I wasn’t insulted by it, and I was younger actor too. I wasn’t insulted by it, I knew exactly what the director meant. And he was an old-time director, he was a very mean director too, but I loved when he said it to me. He smiled and he said okay, do it better. And he was right! It was good, it just needed to be better. Everything was there, it just needed to be better. I’m also a big fan of not cutting unless I really feel it’s necessary. And forging ahead and having somebody repeat lines and having somebody, I’ll say okay now go back to the beginning of that monologue and just do it again. Do it again and just do the whole thing with your eyes closed or whatever. Just keep the camera rolling. Otherwise what happens is people start to think too much, and thought can be the absolute death of creativity. And then everybody else on the set starts doing this, they start grabbing the thing and they start adjusting it, and the guy comes in with the makeup and the thing comes in with the hair and the (mumbles). And that’s 10 minutes, and all the energy is gone. And the actor’s concentration is gone and we’ve lost time. So I’m a big one to just forge ahead. And for the most part, actors like that. (gentle music)

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