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Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Lesson 1 of 10

Background & Inspiration


Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Lesson 1 of 10

Background & Inspiration


Lesson Info

Background & Inspiration

Welcome welcome to the next generation of film education the creative live film channel thrilled to have you with us at home so honored and humbled to have incredible list of students with us people who are coming back for more and more classes with us welcome today's class is a real treat as I was saying a moment ago if I wasn't here I'd be there like this is a good one not only do we have a world class instructor, we have some world class guest with us without any further ado let's invite to the stage today's instructor she literally is part of film history on a genetic level and also on a cinematic level she's worked with some of the great filmmakers as their star as their collaborator she's a writer director, a thinker and entrepreneur and later this year a book author were so honored and excited to have with us ileana douglas I'll be out of the way quickly but it's always my question for the instructor why teach when I reached out to you about doing this? What made you say yeah, I...

'd like to teach I have something to say well, I think the important thing I mean I love films on film lover and my you know what I always try to impart on people I've been doing this for a very long time is like is a love of film and part of this is a you know, the reason I call it filmmaking from the inside out is that I like to think of myself as a is not only an actress but as a collaborator and I think that giving ah a broad range of knowledge about film is really, really important I had so many mentors in my life people you know martin scorsese and brian de palma john frankenheimer packs all of by the way yeah, people loved film history like riding mcdowell who just imparted on me you know, something is simple is keeping a journal how important it was to note things down when I wrote my book I can tell you many times I went back and you know you think you're going to remember something but you don't and sometimes even something you jot down you know, ten years later you may kind of look at it and understand the place of that and I think that we're so used tio typing now that you know we're not we're getting away from writing and sometimes writing is that you using a different part of your brain you know more more thoughtful and reflective and hopefully in terms of my teaching and also my work that I do it t c m talking about overlook films you know, hopefully it's I think it's important I think it's important to talk about film history film preservation actors I mean those air all of some of the things that we're going to be talking about teo ah love of acting how you can learn about older actors and you know bring that into some of the newer actors maybe talk about at different styles of acting basically super relax and enjoy this is going to be a feast we're also going to recall skype cast with us yes he'll butte anesta pecos bill pankow covering filmmaking editing and cinematography by now I'm excited I'm excited about that till hope you've got some good questions absolutely here I'm gonna be back later ok have some fun with our guest before are you guys excited this's not pandering I genuinely been excited you know you have a huge brain and a huge film yes it's you know I don't mean literally I hope tonight distracted no it'll be incredible you guys injury so have a great class thanks things thanks guys into like let's you know as they said I'm a big believer in collaboration so if a thought occurs to you you know please feel free to raise your hand ask me chris something I'm saying is not making sense you know? Sure tryto yeah please so the first thing I wanted to start with a little bit is just a little bit about about me and you know why I called myself you know a filmmaker from the inside out and uh I am the perfect woman about me a little bit about me basically my start a lot of people know that I'm in and actress probably seen my face or see my face get bitten off by robert in your own cape fear but my grandfather was an actor's name was melvyn douglas he was part of the studio system worked you know for many years at mgm is two time academy award uh uh actor from film called being there another film called hood won a tony emi so he's got a long illustrious career and when I was about fourteen years old he invited me on his first the film said that I was ever on which was called being there and what was so fascinating for me about this experience was that I really wanted to be an actor and I was very excited about meeting peter sellers that was like he was like for me you know, I I wanted to be a comic actor somebody like peter sellers and yet when I got on the set you know they sat me because it was very young lee sat me next to the director and I was fascinated by that because in the dark you know all the actors air out there in the light and the dark I was learning so much about how many people it actually took to make the film you know people are coming up to him and ask him questions about the lighting and the sound in the makeup and it was then it dawned on me you know that how many people it actually took to make a film and the other thing that I found was interesting was again while the actor's role acting he's making comments he's asking the you know the script supervisor teo make notes about a performance and it was there that I started to gain this interesting set of ideas of that it's almost just is exciting to be on that side of the line then being an actor and I always and I found myself as I grew in my own career feeling just that same comfort of it was almost as fun to sit next to the director and help him out and really feel like I was a you know, a collaborator that I was helping the film that it wasn't just an actor so it's like it's I think that that's one of the things I want to apart upon use the often times we think of just ourselves is our little one role but I think that if you're a director or you're a writer or you're an actor thinking it of it more as a collaborative process on and you know I don't want to want to be pollyannish about this but literally from the minute you get to the set this idea of you know the crew, the sound people, the caterers it it all creates an environment I think of for you that can help you isn't as an actor can help you as a director of feeling inclusive and that was something that I felt as a child accidentally but oh, I as I grew older, I've always I feel in my mind trying to replicate like that feeling that it was this temple of art where, you know, we all went and did something very special the next set that hey invented invited me to was a movie he was in cold ghost story and it was just a hard, you know, the horror movie and with fred astaire and it again a lot of, like, larger than life people, but what was interesting about that film set was that it was a very where being there was just this temple of art go story was somewhat of a problematic, you know, set and I was very young, so I'm just but I'm picking up on, you know, attention rewrites, there were some problems they're dealing with four older gentlemen who had all had a unique set of, you know, health issues, they were shooting in the snow, they had very difficult the conditions the director was sometimes not quite in sync with them, and at night my grandfather would get, you know, the first time I ever saw this yellow pages with like meaning he'd have to, you know, learn entirely new scenes and there's another actress in the film named patricia neal and you know they were beside themselves they're in their eighties having to learn, you know, new dialogue and new actions and you know, it was very, very stressful from their point and I saw again what I learned from that point was this actor sense of not feeling safe in the environment and I'm sure that the director in his hotel room had no idea he's he's got his own set of worries maybe his location moved you know, maybe maybe you know, he's maybe the studio is pressuring him, you know? You don't know, but what I learned about that again was this idea that things were happening behind the scenes we're going to affect the film probably in a negative way and I noticed again on that film that there was a when ideas of slightly of separateness from the director to the actor and that that I do made it not like a you know, a cohesive environment for them and I think that it is probably ultimately affected you know, the out the outcome of the film of having these older actors in a very stressful you know, situation, this is an example and we're going to talk more about this later you know of problematic like you hire for people do a movie and they're in their eighties and they can't quite move is well so you know, that was something you didn't take into consideration of course I started making movies myself and then I my first movie was called the perfect woman and what's interesting about that film was that I used money I did a movie called alive and I tried took the money I made I used to joke that some, you know, people took their money and made it gotta bought a car, I made a movie and I was very excited to you know, I was like, I was like, you guys like, I just I just went in there and I got a sixteen millimeter camera heard it once belonged to john kasich betty's I'm like I'm a filmmaker and we shot this thing over two days and it was, you know, it was just kind of a mass we I didn't really know what I was doing it was, you know, thirty we've used thirty five women over over two days I didn't get paperwork and anybody you know, like I just like, you know, like I'm a filmmaker, I want to make movies, one of the first biggest errors that happened was, you know, we now we have digital we don't have to worry about this, but I didn't clean the gate I don't even know there was a game on camera even know what that wass so I make my my movie, you know, my my product of my own comic genius, of course, and it turns out because I didn't clean the gate where there were all these cats that we're in the apartment, and they told me at the lab like, we have a little problem we have for cat rug on the bottom of your film, I was like in a frame, they were like no in every frame in everything you shot. Yeah, so that was a problem. And it turns out, lo and behold, this movie that, like, I didn't worry about any of the technical problems. It ended up like it took off. It was in like it was in the sundance and I got picked for opening night of the new york film festival. It was in scotland, it was in paris is in france. I had to spend every time we showed this movie because it was on sixteen millimeter eventually had enough money to blow it up and erase my mistake, but I had to go around to the projectionist of every single every time we showed the movie, I'd have to go up, I have to explain to them. Ok, I know this sounds a little crazy but when the movie comes on you're going to see this black fur rug at the time and then you're gonna have to reframe it you know I had to explain this thing like twenty times so you know let me tell you the next time I I it was you know I remembered tio to clean my to clean my gate after that after when I made my next movie so what was great about that was it gave me an opportunity to to write and directs amore films which I did I shot a number of short so I did a documentary called everybody just stay calm which was again about because I've always been fascinated again some of the behind the scenes of what's happening when you see a movie it's like I always make a joke that it's like you know this scene's going to need subtitles because nobody knows that like we're standing in water or we only had an hour to shoot it or you know any any of this problem tmz that can you know that can come up the I did a short then called ileana rama which was sort of comedically based on my life I started to develop like my own sort of comic persona that was some one of the things I started out doing was stand up uh you know, just because it was something I you know wanted to also be able to express and I found myself as an actress having again a hard time I felt like at a voice but it wasn't you know it was like show up on sat do your part but yet you know, some of my things that I wanted to do is a filmmaker I didn't feel like we're being expressed in a so I made a movie called ileana rama that that took off and went again to you know, these air hopefully again all the things that will that you'll be able to do get a movie and a festival you meet great people there. So when I was at the the festival I met people like, you know, allison anders got spins in I mean film festivals are just a fantastic way again to be to meet someone so that maybe again and I'm going to talk in the end about goals but like it you know, get getting in a film festival is just amazing way to meet other filmmakers and learn from other filmmakers that's one of the things about you know about my background so much of what I've been able to accomplish has been about not just I auditioned for it I got it it's because you were in the right place at the right time meeting of filmmaker and you just also which is what I'm going to talk about next week film influences and stop you know you're not only at the film festival meeting john schlessinger but you also know quite a lot about john schlessinger then there is a big difference you know when we were talking in the beginning about why is it important to teach and I and I really think that what I have to offer is that we've somehow again we've gotten away from the idea of well you know our references or the life last you know, five films that come out but you're going to find yourself in a position where you're meeting a bill a big film director and you happen to know some like really interesting thing about them that you've read that could be the turning point from you know hello it's nice to meet you I'm a big fan of yours too you know where these they see that you're interested in them and it leads to some sort of work opportunity which I think is that's what we're all we want organic you know, we want an organic ability to get a job I think I mean I think that's what we all want or do we just want to be rich and famous? I don't know and have people you know bring you lot tastes like this but anyway so that was what I was talking about film festivals the but that's where again I've all of my collaborations were usually with people that because I was directing my own films meeting people at film festivals another thing I want to talk about just a little bit is his web siri's because we're all getting into web series I did a web series called easy to assemble it was sponsored by a kia again it came out of a short film that I did I did a short film oh I turned it into a television pilot the pilot didn't go I got a suggestion from ah filmmaker you may have heard of movements name is brian de palma back in two thousand five he said me you know there's this thing called the internet it's really exploding view have you thought about putting you know on again here you have a filmmaker with this amazing body of work and yet he's thinking about new ideas how do I get my work scene you know which again is this next thing like way all we're going to be spending a lot of money making movies but like you've got to get your work scene so I think you need to be flexible about where it's where it seems I'm pretty open you know everything I mean I do is show now called the living room show it's like I go do your all go do a show in your living room you know for a glass of wine and a free meal you know it's like if you're an actor you gotto act if you're a filmmaker, you gotta shoot stuff and again I'm going to talk about that a little bit later to this idea of like being in a work mode you know, not just, uh, waiting for the phone to ring you know, being putting yourself the state where you're you're educated, you knowledgable you're open new ideas so thiss web series that I did was I had a pilot, which I mentioned before called ileana rama and um and it didn't go and so we put it on the internet and I keep ended up liking it we turn the whole idea, you know what if I were go work and I kia and so that's what the show became and what was amazing about this was that the first year again because the stakes were relatively low and this one was two thousand five in the internet was just starting they literally just basically gave me a budget to do whatever I wanted I did not squander that opportunity again like I didn't play it safe that first year and say, well, you know, they gave me this little bit of money, you know? I'll just give him what I'll give him no, I like I threw every celebrity, you know, I've got jeff gold bloom I got friends to show up we with a small and on a budget that I had and this was again something interesting I want to point out with friends mind that that they said to me why I don't understand why you don't do the show for like a dollar ninety eight and like keep all the money for yourself and I felt that I said well you know I know this is my work like this is my body of work I wanted to look good I put you know I reduced my salary so that we could have great you know talent in it and great production design and that's something that again is a personal decision that you have to think about I mean for me personally I want everything toe look of quality that's my own personal thing other people you know it's fine if that's your signature you know I'm just going to be looking in the camera and talking to people but um that's something that I really think is important to think about in terms of what is my personal what is my vision what I want it's going out there is that is that enough is you know do I want nice music so I want nice production design do I want a celebrity being it you know often times again when we're doing web siri's I have to explain to people that you know it's not the easiest thing in the world to get somebody to just to show up for free on a sunday you know, there there has to be some sort of incentive in it, and if the incentive isn't going to be money, I think the incentives should be quality but that's my own personal philosophy, I want like everybody to remember it that's what I feel like it's not, you know, I don't want to be like, you know, she said you needed one hundred thousand dollars to make your movie it's just that my personal philosophy is and I can tell you from my own experience is that if somebody gives me the opportunity to work on something, you know, that's for free or student film, if there's a level of quality in it, if the script is good, if there's another actor in it that's good if they get equality dp than everybody likes to work, you know, for free if you you know, so I would say that again thinking about those things as you as you go into your, um as you go into your projects, so in summing up, I just want to say that you know, again, I'm I'm an actress, but I'm also a filmmaker. I'm also a writer, I'm also per producer and I like to think of myself again as I used this word a lot as a collaborator because there's a collaborator you invest in the films you invest in the person you're working with, it's, not just like they're the director. They don't understand me where the actors were over here, hair and make up for that. You know, we we're all in this together, and all of those ideas are going toe, you know, are going to help make a better a product. And I like to think of myself is not only being in the movies, but I'm a fan of the movie and you'll get excited. Hopefully, you know, we're going to talk next about, you know, films and film influences and stuff, but I like to think of myself as being a fan of, of of the films, you know, that I'm that I'm making.

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.