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Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Lesson 7 of 10

Actor to Director with Neil LeBute


Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Lesson 7 of 10

Actor to Director with Neil LeBute


Lesson Info

Actor to Director with Neil LeBute

You know this idea of working with people our guests our first guest today once said that was once asked if you didn't work in film and theater because today is that guess s works ubiquitously hey in fact is in rehearsals right now as we speak to him hey was asked if if you didn't do this what else would you do professionally? He said I'd like to work in the mental health field well I have news for today's guest he does please welcome via skype writer director thinker big big brain mr neil labute everybody thing neil uh this is robert milazzo and illeana douglas hey man, how you doing again? You know suffice to say we know you're busy so thank you for being with us we're talking the topic of the moment is now director slash filmmaker and actor collaboration I'll start I'll put the the beach ball in the air a little bit when I look at your work I think of acting because you know your men of the theater as well this film how how have you learned this this weird say ounce of working with ...

actors is it just by experience I mean how much how much acting did you do in your lifetime before he became a filmmaker? Talk a little bit about your learning curve for working with actors well, I I love great quickly how important they are to process their um you know, they're the conduit there, the face that people connect with, they people may like the words, they may like the pretty pictures to go along with film or on stage, but the real connections of bill make with your work are are through those actors and that's huge, you know, those people put a face and a heart, two characters they say in the end they know them better than you do. You are beholding to actors and think of it, it's something else you think of them as I know I've known a few directors who I think casts better looking versions of themselves and then want to manipulate those those people into acting the way they would if they could act and that's a strange way to go about it, you know, for me, it's really a when it works best is a collaboration, you have an idea, you have a script it's a blue prints, those actors then fill in the all the gaps that you've left some willingly and some not so, and they asked the hard questions, and they're also your first audience, you know, they're there and they are all usually filmgoers, theater lovers, and they asked the same question that an audience will ask eventually and unfortunately the time when you can't go back and fix things so to you know, put up a wall ever is a bad thing in this process you have to be open, you could be guarded because you know you you have to protect yourself, you have to have some, you go, but you also have to be open, embrace the process and the same look, I'm here, I'm going to build this little tune for us will work within it, but I trust you have hired you because I know what you could do, I've seen when you could dio and and I think that actors in general have responded well to that from from me, and I think they would just into what anyone that you, when someone knows you respect what they do and that you consider it art, you know, I consider art what I can't do, not what I do, you know, the things that come to me easily or not, necessarily art, you know, but if I if I don't sing or fight, if I'm not a painter, I tend to look at those things as artistic things, I think and I think of acting is one of those things, and so I love what actors do I took acting classes in in college, I mean, certainly in high school, because it was the only opportunity available to me in the theater arts, but very with me, I tried to start writing my own monologues for myself and things that that I found I had more of a gift for, but I immersed myself in enacting trying to do it, and I could tell right away that I wasn't as gifted as some of the others and I think you can work on it, I think you can get better at it. I think all these things are or crafts that you can row at, but on it's all some sort of strange alchemy of challenge and luck and hard work, all these things that come together in a person's career, I don't believe anyone when they say, you know, I haven't been lucky, I've been terribly lucky and I think others have as well I've known a lot of people who who had huge talents who ultimately didn't stay the course or, you know, they started to lose faith and it became a matter of for me, it was always a matter of when, rather than a matter of if, you know, I tried to keep that positive sense of of I will do this, I just have to you know, I have to keep going until someone notices may you know, so many of us are those, you know, ten or twenty year overnight sensations, way worked a long time for anyone noticed us and and I was able to go back and work as much in theater these days as I have because of making a film something I you know never done previously a short film with commercial of music video anything like that, I made a film or out of frustration than anything else and and because of that so many theater doors about putting people were saying, oh, you have plays that you're like yeah, all the place that I sent to you and you rejected those air still available so feel great support is not limited yes e you know, I think that my love of of actors and what they do has helped me across the board in all the all the mediums that I've had a chance to work in now I think that like the same as if I was working at home depot if someone saw that I respected the work that they did, they tend set to work harder into you know and to adjust in and work with you well rather than against you. But what about let's? Look at the opposite ileana we'll start with you and just reflect bounce off meals, eloquent thoughts. What about the field general filmmakers use historical? We've talked a little bit of bad hitch I'm sure ford suffered no fools, I'm sure fellini suffered no fools you know if if if congeniality maybe encourages artistry but does the filmmaker need to be loved what the actor does I mean bob altman loves actors but admitted I don't know what they do you know so what about a filmmaker who doesn't feel the effusive love of acting what's so funny I wonder with you would think about this too there's always this mythology around hitchcock oh he hated actors were cattle and but you're not going to get a performance I would jimmy stewart cary grant where they do film after film after film with him if he wasn't in some way involved in the process enjoying the process you know I wonder again if that was some of that is mythology I know again the best set I've ever been on is where you know the director creates an environment where you you feel you can try one you know where the director goes you know what let's try it sometimes again on another meal if you've ever felt this way you're on a set and an actor just doesn't feel it's lunch and lunches coming up and everyone's going like this and they're like everyone's going we got it we got it we got it and you see the actor's face and you just sense you know that they don't have it and sometimes the time and the discussion off like can we do this one more time if the director just goes you know what let's do it I can't imagine I can't tell you how many times I've never had a director go you know what you were that was awful, we shouldn't have done that, but you know what I mean, they always tend to go, damn it, you know what? That was a really good taste they were they were in the, you know, the bullet was in the gun, they knew they didn't do something and they got it, you know? But I'd love to hear your thoughts about that, too. Well, you've talked about one of the real source plots for me of of that process, and I mean in particular, like the filmmaking with television process, which is a strange one as you as you know, it's, a very schizophrenic talking about mental health, you know, is built entirely on economics. Yeah, not for for the artistry that you might bring to something, but how quickly you can do it and how inexpensively you could do it to create a product that we can therefore sell the most out. That's, not the way in which you build in the theater, you know, from beginning to end your your first day on the job on a on a show, a tv show a film is meant to be is good as your last day, yeah, right? And that that is that doesn't work with the idea of growth, you know, they don't they don't ever really go. Oh, I know it was a tough first week. We're gonna throw that out. We'll just started getting, you know, they expect you, but they also expect you to work like a trained chimp, you know, sit around by yourself, often in a trailer going mad, you know, somewhere that you don't live and then bring you out whenever they snap their fingers and then the clock starts, they light for four hours and then they bring you out and that's when they suddenly it seemed like time is passing faster than has ever passed people for everyone's doing gosh, we really have to hurry. Why didn't we hurry it all during that late? Why are ramping away, you know, hurry up and wait that's the expression it's camaron telling these fine folks were so talented that the audience I love so much, why are we rushing them along with go help? I don't know if we need another tape, you know, it's sort of like we'll work until we're done here. Now you did your work and will work, but strangely actors, I guess because you're so good at what you do, we begin to think you're maj. And that you can just really do it and it's like a light switch. You can do it whenever you want, tio so I kind of hate that I try to guard against that protective but the producers are hell bent on saving you no money by shooting on this day or your first day on the staff. They say I'm sorry we're going to get the crime scene or that bedroom scene but it's the only day we can get this location so apparently, you know, target store is far more important than you are because that's the only day we can get into target so we have to do it today, it's just a crazy waiting to try and make anything cool art but we do it it seems like democracy itself, you know crap. But if he is a craft that works it's pretty that's, one of those things that you using a lot of same words I used about crafted collaboration I had a you know, a big crying scene in the movie the classic, you know, it's working be at the end of the film, you know, and the director can be alleged in the head his hands because we only have the luna crane for one day and they really he wanted do that. Can we do the crying scene after lunch? Comes down to the lunar crazy yeah that's what it is happily I've never even heard of it yeah, but that's what it was like you know and we were really going to shave a lot of money if we don't have to bring back the crane I'm like ok, but it those points though you just you can't be you know you go is my director I want to move you know, but yes, you get put into an atmosphere that is not a craft and yet what I was talking about the first half is that those are all those things where all the movies you've seen all the directors you admire and all those things have to come into play and now you're the director and you're the actor and you've got to come through for the person I think it is true that's what you're you're asked to do and you know, you have a lot of trust that you have to have a place on the process and I admire you also that because you take this work and you put it into other people's hands often hands that you don't see until you know you you walk into a premier all dressed up and ready to see the movie and no idea that three of your scenes have been but on, you know, from an editor you've never met before so there's a lot of press that you guys take this this gift of a performance and hand over I think that's what so many people end up you know, somebody actors rather end up writing and directed and and being a producer so that they can be further into the process and have a saying because it's hard to take things like that I've done a little bit of directing now for television where the director is the person who moves in and out of the process you're there one weekend and you're somebody else's right behind you and it's very sober and I found it to be a lesson I gave me a greater sense of empathy for actors going oh that's what it feels like to do something very carefully and then turn it over and someone else says you know when this is going to be forty two minutes long it's not going to be one second longer because we're going to sell toyotas right now that's what we have to do with this and and so if you made it too long something's going to be cut out you know what movies and plays you forget how long's it feels you do it until it feels right in television you do it to be exactly this law and so that's you know that I think even that was an experience that you be in a greater sense of how actors are asked to work on dh yet produced this this wonderful thing that that an audience you know come back time and time again for so you know my hats are always off to you guys how are you doing in terms of when you talk about classic people who who sounded like they're less collaborative? I mean, I've heard those hitch back stories as well and who you know who really knows it cz longer and longer since he you know he worked and where most things are a pocketful stories now what I think was probably also maybe some of those people you're talking about like like james stewart or cary grant they grew up in a system that that foster those artur directors as well forced more important not your studio directors who had a kind of its autonomy and so they you know, something maybe became friends with john wayne was a friend of john ford but apparently john ford was was, you know, a tough son of a gun when we worked with john wayne yeah, yeah, yeah and rode him in a very difficult way but I think a person coming from a different temperament someone like paul newman never went back to the doctor and they they apparently had a very tough time and and so you know, I think it also comes down to just temperament in that kind of thing and you do know that you're taking a job you're going to do something but I think everyone is happy when they feels if they've been counted it doesn't mean your idea is right always and that you know it's the thing we should always do it's always wait if you could shoot what you meant to shoot and try that last tape here somebody else's ideas they just give us another one but while the director does have to steer the ship at some point I think it is it's so important to just believe that good ideas come from everywhere you know and to absorb them into the work and that's that's at least what I try to do with not just active but grew and you know whomever anthony of the late great I think anti michaela you talked about sydney pollack who was a michaela was one of his partners he said a filmmaker is an iron fist in a velvet glove that was really always a beautiful way to describe the filmmaking we'll talk a little bit more though about approachability for both of you you know there are if I always tell my students if the history of cinema was predicated on people getting along there would be no history of cinema you know? But I don't look it is people hating each other look it is what I would call tough collaboration started ileana wouldn't you're on the set and there's a form of tough collaboration like let's say you in the act, you in a co actor and not seeing I die were you in the film maker have different visions? How do you work with in that? You know, you were talking before about being someone who wants to contribute ideas and being in that environment, so yeah, let's say you're not, I would say, you're not in that environment. How do you continue working? How do you balance your away your humanity with your craft? Well to me, and I'd be curious to see again the hear what neil says, but to me, it's, it's, it's the tone, what is the tone of the film? You know, it doesn't matter so much, of course is an actor for me personally, I always like to try to build a report with an actor, but you don't always get that, you know, I was, you know, and sometimes, you know, you work with an actor it's funny, I'm just thinking of them because you've also worked with them to jason patric and jason is, I did a movie with jason patric and samantha morton, you know samantha morton and I are like, we're two clowns jason's first, very serious, you know, and you can, you know, that can throw you in terms of tone, when you're working with samantha morton and she's like this and I'm like this and jason's like this, you know, so I personally for me is an actor have to be careful, okay don't get in his rhythm, okay, her rhythm go I you know, step away remember what I wanted to do in the scene, but that's where again, where the director it's it's to me, it's not so much getting along but it's like are all the notes simpatico and that's? Where again, you have to look to the director? And sometimes again, the problem these days is the director's glued to the monitor he's with the mind he's with the dp they're filming another movie, you know, sometimes sometimes you're like, is he aware of the movie that I'm shooting right here with, you know, because they're going look at the shot, what can we put this mayor part of it? Part me kneel to interrupt your response, but I've seen young filmmakers, and what happens is when they do a take, instead of turning to the actor, they first turn to the crew. All right, that's a classic mistake in training. Quite frankly, I'm not saying it's all a referendum on training, but I always say the young filmmakers look when the take is over maybe touch base with the actor first but that's not the first response usually we glass we prioritize technical so much now phil well we go back and forth you know I recently worked with peter bogdanovich peters and again so it's the slap of going back to the old fashioned right peter sitting three feet away from you very good ileana that's good raise your arm a little bit can you you know again like every take you got a note and so you but you have to be adaptable to each two to each actor but I would be curious again like what do you think tone with dealing with different actors not so much getting along right there's always disagree feel do you feel like you have to get everyone buying in you know to use a kind of weird cloak lee will is um well I think that you know it's for myself actually because I'm someone who who often I don't feel like I overshoot you know I'm very careful about how much issued I like you know two shots with active where you could see them both working together you get a chance is as an audience to watch them act and react if you're not going to a lot of coverage and that sort of thing you would have two people in there you know everyone has just a different process they have a different time you can read about frank capra dealing with you know a barbara stanwyck and gary cooper and saying one just get started after a couple of takes many other ones done after a couple of taste so how could I ever have them in the same scene you know, to get the same shot rather sometimes you'll run into that kind of thing on dh so how do you balance that you suddenly say I'm going to switch this up I'm gonna have to make sure any more coverage because I can't just have that two shot you know there's nothing just don't seem to be simpatico with you say that's not about two people who don't like each other right? We don't want to work together but it's just that my system needs a couple of go's of this in front of the camera which is a very strange thing to have staring at you and group of people really are just yes you say want to go to lunch? You you you build that little cocoon as I say as best you can but in the end you have you have to try and accommodate all these people and get what you want as well and so you do have to kind of ride that wave very carefully I think to go to pick up again like if we work together we haven't worked together really honored to say you know, I've seen your work but you know if you know for me it's as much rehearsal as you could get and it's a rare thing film on tv these days but if you can start to rehearse not because your words seemed like a play but just to get a sense of how people play together you know this one doesn't like that much rehearsal this one is you know likes did not be solid on the lines and get them in the moment you know I wanted I want to try this blocking but I also want to be free and have to get up if I want to if you can get by yourself sometimes sometimes it is buying it saying you know what I'll give up a day of shooting to have a day of rehearsal with these people because what I shoot we'll be someone better having rehearsed with them teo I think they are really important as we wind down a little bit I just want to jump in as if there are no actors listening to this from a filmmaker though do you ever feel neil like why am I always the designated driver I mean in the sense of we look at the tennis match of psychology is on a set do you feel like the filmmaker is the kind of or maybe do you feel in your work you need to stay sober I mean bad bed metaphors aside I mean who is you were who keeps you balanced as a filmmaker on a set with all these different little guys er's going off who keeps you by I have to keep myself I have to I have to be responsible for better or worse you do need a cap there has to be whatever muddled metaphors we want to go through drunken and ships now you know I don't even want to put up a table on drunken sea captains are worked pretty well together one someone has to stay at the help you know someone does have to say for better rewards I'm going to pick the shots I you know I think this I've been either picked or I have picked this project and this cast and we're creating this thing together but my name will go under that particular credit is the director and I don't think it is it is your job as the director to listen to as many people as possible but ultimately you end up making almost all of those choices you know in terms of this is what we're going to dio and again it might be we're going to do what so and so said ileana had a great idea there oh actually tom proves it calling that one you know but um well in that case probably use calling everything but I but I know again is this best possible world I think you are you are responsible for the for the entire the entire piece ofwork ultimately but you are from my point of view you hired well you've cast well that's so much of the job let those people doing their work you know, do the job that they loved to do and you know, I think you'll find yourself removed by their creativity old time it's kind of a gift to work with the filmmaker who really cares absolutely I was going to say like one of the worst things that can happen and I'm I mean again I'm very old school, you know, uh I was still a story, you know, because I love to improvise and I wanted to change something and alive and the script writer was john patrick shanley the director said gonna have talked to john about that I called johnny goes I don't want to comment at a place like okay, you know, like the word has come down you know, you know how those playwrights are right now knowledge of I do I know there are some of those that are out there and I certainly am not one of the itself by, you know, it's ah it's it's a script it's not scripture as far as I'm concerned, you know, if you can if you have a better idea proving you know yeah, that sorry more you were hurt in the morning where hurts the script the more revealed itself to be good or bad and you know directors you talked about people getting technical sometimes people are are so technical sometimes because they love it and sometimes they're masking the failures of the scene itself you know, they dance around all kinds of shots to hide the fact that they don't actually have a good scene that two people can actually play mom and so for me it's it's you know the truth will out ultimately the more you rehearse those things for you you you you do takes you go oh yeah this is this is a good scene or it needs help and we'll fix it here or shooting again we'll do whatever we have to but the person who thinks that you know it comes out of their perfect first time is it a strange creature as far as I think, I just I've never found it that way things get better with more you work well, you know again, when you're an actor for lungevity, I thought, you know my person you know, I just like, you know no, we choose your you know, you pick your battles but I was one of the hardest things is is a weak director because what happens with a weak director is becomes like a disaster movie with everybody reaching and grabbing and that's when you get like again conflicts you know, personality problems because suddenly you're like why is the production person in here moving lamps were trying todo you don't have it yeah you like you've got an abandoned ship? Yeah, because doggedly with this ship metaphor so it does seem like that and then the people begin to feel like I've got it yeah, you get, you know, you get people coming out of the woodwork and then you know the whole and once you know, once a director is lost control, you can't get it back. That's what? Just again, one of those weird, sad disaster movie rules like, once you're out, everybody is reaching and grabbing and that's when all the to me that's when all the problems, if a director like, sets a tone, you know, from the beginning of the set, you know again like we start on time, we rehearse, you know, it's amazing like those little things like he is, you know, I think he's the captain of the ship to god the good news is if he's to ever work together, they know a little bit more about each other. Now. The bad news is we have to say a deal, mr tribute, because on all toot his horn he's in a rehearsal for a new play, his new play and he's also in new york representing his film at the tribeca film festival so congratulations, man. I think you're on to me one of the one of the living breathing examples of writer director art so thank you and it was really nice setup I wish I could do more so congratulations on this have a great time and hope to see you guys against him. It's good lack, be careful what you wish for. Take care be well, that was let's not ask us let's throw you all thoughts about not only questions, but I'd love to hear what you thought about this the triangulation with neil and I mean, we're just getting started there's so much more to talk about with nothing on it but just wanted to you guys yeah, I thought it worked really well. And is it ok to ask a question that oh, yeah, I mean, like in general you how did that all feel in any question? Very natural? Um, almost eerie. I think I think it's the wave of the future I think our homes will have that said ok, what did you think about bases like on subject matter? Anything questions? Yeah, so my question and I wish he was here is, well, a question to you is a great as it drucker's, how do you broach if it ever becomes a necessary line readings with actors, what's the etiquette, how do you sort of set the stage in advance? To maybe I mean, again, every actor is different, I've, you know, like, sometimes I will say that I'll just go tell me how you are going to say it, like, you know, because if it's so if it's a comedy line or something like that, like, you know, but it should be in the script, you know, if it's in the script at the stage directions are accurate, you know, it should be it should be there, um, that's my philosophy what's, interesting turnabout, hitch and not defending him, but my favorite hitch anecdote is he was working on psycho with generally, and they were arguing about a moment because it's something very real, you said sometimes what the filmmaker you're dealing with, you're working with actors who comes out of come out of different traditions. Yeah, so they were arguing about a point, and she wanted to know, well, I want to know why I walk over there. Why do you walk over there? And she said, what's my motivation, he said, your motivation is your salary. You know, in the sense that it can be you know, there is this thing about line readings and work and giving notes some actors do want to hear to want a faster just tell me right now what's the best practice for filmmaker how should a filmmaker approaching actor yeah, but the thing is you're again you're you know you can't say that because when I was again when I'm doing easy to assemble and I'm working with different actors and some actors do like out of the gate they just threw insecure they need reassurance they want how did that feel was that okay? And you can't you can't say you know you can't you can't you can't lose that I mean because you've cast that actor and you have faith in him and you wanted to give a good warnings and you know, some people need extra work some people don't need any work at all, you know? But I think it's a good idea to kind of like, you know, check in with with people this is person seem happy that this is a person okay? And I love how you express to to that oh, this person needs less takes this person needs more takes on what he also said this so all adjust my coverage I'll adjust my coverage versus, like, throttling the actor and say, gosh, darn it do it this way that's classic I mean, I always tell people I always go if possible I like to shoot their side first and you know and then you know, because I like to kind of have the words almost not knowing the words and then I but so I tend to prefer to go second if that's possible, right? Right that's just my own like personal thing you know again like I can tend to tell people that what some people again they want to be boom they want to be first so that's we'll put the classic example is brando on the waterfront was always his close ups were shot before rod steiger right? And it was you, charlie yeah, well, it was a different reason he had to be this therapist four p m every day yeah, so he worked it out with kazan that he had to be shooed his close ups? Yeah, I'm not that's apocryphal or not, but you see rod steiger brenda's not off camera, right? Which is kind of but as you suggest, I think what filmmakers young filmmakers don't know yet is and I'll use the word politely there's almost a political scheme to have close ups or shot who get shot who's shooting first whose off camera for the other and there isn't again that's set in stone yeah, yeah interesting with robert de niro right? You're going to be last you're going to be last year he's going for yes and then it's how the are their stars in this coverage how big it's but it's all politely done it but again for me I see I love that because I love that's the director in maybe because I always go how do I fit in this scene as opposed to me acting and your director's dream I mean two may he would be a director's dream other questions yeah just on that we'll get to the seventh room so I was just wondering if you're a writer how do you pitch to an actor that I have a script as a writer but but also like to direct it and like woody allen just write it directed and acted in it when you you're not woody allen status you're well obviously the best example is, you know, good material I get sent a lot of material but there's a web series that I'm producing right now which is called the skinny and the girl sent it to me you know, the player mom and it's, a comedy about a girl who has anorexia on I read it and I was a you know, this isn't great but it's audacious and she has something to say during content and so I thought let me meet with her because there was enough elements of it that were really, really intriguing you know she had some that she had a couple videos that she did that were online so I was able to see that that help quite a bit so I would say that would be mean tohave this tool of the internet where you could possibly show someone on example of something you've written I think would you know are directed you know what is your point of view I think that that's the most important thing says something maybe a little to make it a question but so so this writer this young lady how did she get you the material somewhere over these days it's so easy that you know yeah I mean she has contacted me well, you know what's so funny and we met through a mutual acquaintance but it's it's so funny you know, I managed to meet a lot of it and people said how did you connect with that person were in the new narcissism the people will tell you who they worked within a heartbeat right? You go on any website he I worked with the bill bubba bubba bubba but instead of finding this person you find the person who were you know what I'm saying is now more than ever we can do this I mean that's probably different course for a different day but but I also think it's like know your target audience so this girl you know is that she's a comedian you know and you know, there there would be potentially and she loved easy to assemble and you know, it felt it was in the same wheel house you know, when somebody sends me oh, I've written this sci fi thriller about vampires I'm like why are they sending it? I mean, you know, like that doesn't really make any sense so in that sense that's a lot harder and I get those too and I don't read them because I'm like the chances of me liking us life I thing and I'm a vampire are going to be really, really slight so those probably go in the garbage if someone said I wrote this for you with that baby creepy or bb flattering well again, like depending on you know this girl she reaches that I'm a comedian I wrote this thing it's called the skinny it's it's a it's a comedy about a girl dealing with their anorexia and immediately run a bell with me I was like oh right okay this is either going to be horrible for this might actually be really I want to read a comedy about anorexia and I read it and I thought, you know what this is really this is interesting this is this has got something it's it's funny it's got some things that I like, you know, talking about women's issues in body issues and stuff like that, I thought this was interesting, I could sink my, you know, my teeth in it way, certainly. And then we've all done favors, sure, but that, you know, suggested some old fashioned virtue of good material. Yeah, you know, there's yeah, it's the same thing going backto like look att movies of, you know, whatever your script is and whatever the story is, try to find people that seemed like they would line up with that story as opposed to, you know, I'm going to try get this person because they're famous that that's probably going to be a lot harder and transparent. Uh, another question from the side of room. Yeah, first of all, I would like to think creative live in indiana for all their wonderful information you're giving to us and every topic you touch our takes me back to the same question I've been saving for this time and it's, whether you draw the line with an actor, if you're directing, you don't want to lose control of you and you're so how do you manage to where's that line? I think that it's going on the set every day with a set of goals and understanding what you need to accomplish and you're not going to be, you know you can't get involved with someone because they don't like their hair style or something like that you could give it a little bit of time but in a certain amount of time you know you got to go because you gotto make your day and so I would say that that's probably like what are you gonna accomplish every day? It's another reason I suggest having a shot list not so much because you don't know what you're going to shoot but it gank is your road map if you get in trouble you know you like you can always go back to like what I want to do today when I was sitting there dreaming with my dp about what did I want this scene to be you know you've got that shot list you know you you wantto accomplish those you know those shots but I guess and also it you know, in meeting people understanding you know it's good to have a cup of coffee with people and kind of figure out who they are and what they what they need like is this person going to be really difficult to work with? You know you may not it may not be worth it you know, if you've got three days and someone who's going to be really a challenge, you know I may not be worth it you know, neal was talking about rehearsal don't underestimate the power of a cup of coffee offi that's rehearsal. Yeah, you know, that's, that's, that's rehearsal rehearsals, not just pieces of tape on the floor, on big tables. It could be this. Yeah, you know, who am I going to be on the set with four weeks? Yeah, the rehearsal of the person itself.

Class Description

Where exactly does a filmmaker’s responsibility end and an actor’s begin? Filmmaking requires an abundance of creative collaboration and parsing out who is responsible what is a surprisingly complicated endeavor. In Filmmaking from the Inside-Out, Illeana Douglas will share strategies and insights that improve communication for those working on both sides of the camera.

Illeana has a unique vantage point. Her grandfather is the OSCAR® award-winning actor, Melvyn Douglas and she has worked extensively as an actor, director, and producer alongside some of the giants in the industry, including: filmmakers Martin Scorsese, Gus Van Sant and Robert Redford; and actors Robert De Niro, Ralph Fiennes, and Nicole Kidman. In this class, Illeana will help both actors and filmmakers develop a better understanding of their own unique roles and how they can work together to capture the best-possible performance, in-camera. You’ll learn:

  • The precise definition of “filmmaker” and what they are responsible for
  • What the actor is expected to bring to a production
  • Customizable approaches for improving communication on set
  • Techniques for capturing performance on camera

Nearly every filmmaker and actor grapples with some level of insecurity and wants to feel more confident about their work. In this class, you’ll learn strategies for improving your craft and communicating about your unique contributions with your fellow creative collaborators.

Whether you are a filmmaker or actor, you’ll learn tangible and craft-based approaches to making constructive decisions and capturing the best work on set and in the camera.

Special Guests:

  • Anastas Michos, Cinematographer 
  • Bill Pankow, Editor 
  • Neil LaBute, Writer/Director



A great insight from a veteran of Hollywood on her perspective, thoughts, ideas and genuine feeling of what each individual can gain from simply believing in yourself and your abilities. Ms. Douglas and special guests took time to give us as much useful information as possible in a very tough business of film making. Hope to have such courses again.

Laura Latimer

A great class with perfect insights. Thank you.

a Creativelive Student

This was a fascinating and useful course. Ms. Douglas' views on the craft of filmmaking helped me better understand it.