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Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Lesson 5 of 10

The Roulette Wheel of Insanity


Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Lesson 5 of 10

The Roulette Wheel of Insanity


Lesson Info

The Roulette Wheel of Insanity

They said before we spent first segment talking about movies, getting a background of movies, romanticizing movies and now it's really fun we're gonna we're gonna deconstruct everything and and, uh talk about all the problems of film making all the all the things that could possibly go wrong from the from the inside. One of my favorite quotes about making a movie comes from robert altman and he describes movie making like this ah group of people get together and make a sand castle that's like the idea of the impossibility of making a movie and I personally when I go into a movie, people always ask me like, are you happy about the movie and like now I'm I'm just relieved I have a sense of, you know, relief that is that you're there every step of the way. It's ah it's a challenge and at another producer friend who described filmmaking as you know as of this is the filmmaker part of it it's like they drop you behind enemy lines and you have to somehow gather a group of evil and find your ...

way back uh that is, you know, again you will find yourself is a director you knows having to summon skills that you know you didn't know were there you got a guy, this group of people again you're gonna be you're gonna be building a sandcastle it's like it's great to think of these moments these war metaphors you know, dropping you behind enemy lines get your gathering a group of people they all have toe we all have to think alike and you know and get something done I made a stocking before I made a movie called, uh documentary about independent film making it was called everybody just stay calm because when you make movies in the low budget arena like I have done many times I made a movie called grief we made the movie in seven days seven days the man and never made another movie uh, you know, he I mean meeting it was his first, but he made many movies he actually made still alice last year with julianne moore, but his first mate movie made in seven days for about nineteen thousand dollars. But guess what? That movie got into sundance? Andi, it was one of the first gay films too, you know, come out of the independent film making a tw that time, which was the early nineties, you know, so it really put him on the map so it's like again, you never know with your film like where that film it's going to take you, but in the in the documentary everybody just just they come one of my favorite, uh again, directors alexandre rockwell described making movies as stress a little more stress, intense stress on you will find yourself on every film set either as an actor or as a director. You don't know what it is, it's like, he just you reached that point like it struck the beginning is stressful because you really don't know how much can you plan for what you don't? No is gonna happen, you know? Then you get there. You you suddenly remember oh, I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm the director, you know? So then you have that stress of, you know, getting into the days and kind of you knowing everybody's name and figuring that out, then you reach critical point, which is the worst part that's, where everybody loses their mind, gets why you're running out of time. Uh, you really thought sixteen days was going to be enough to shoot your men masterpiece and turns out, you know, that is not happening and you reach like a level that's when, like, tempers flare, that's, that's when all these things that I was talking about in the beginning, believe it or not, will seep through and you will remember, you know, like, get you get so dug in in the stress that you forget about those quiet days when you were writing the script when you were watching films when you had a story wanted to tell all that's going to go out the window, you know? So so that's, why it's so important you will have that sense of confidence, I swear to you, if you if you can think on your feet remember you know again what other some of what other people said, teo, you know, to give you confidence when you're on the set and to me, I came up with a little phrase, my own little phrase of what I called making movies. I call it my favorite phrase of all time. I call it the roulette wheel of insanity because the beauty of any film is that you absolutely never know what is going to go wrong on a film, and you can come up with a list of problems that you, you know, that you think could go wrong and then guess what? None of those problems happened. I remember, you know, going to shoot and and the way I mean what's great about you guys is like, I can tell you these things, but as an actor, you know, starting out, I didn't know that, you know, when I was going to go shoot a movie called alive that we were going to be flying helicon helicopter every day on going to a sad and shooting in the snow and guess what? The weather changed every twenty minutes and so all my wonderful ideas about acting and on this day I'll do this scene and that we had a call sheet that was six pages long it said under sunny did sunny days to be completed we never completed a scene because the weather would change and what was great about that experience was again I had to throw away all those ideas of like preciousness is my little movie and I'm going to shoot it this way and I'm going to act it this way it's like the sun is out everybody going you know? And it was amazing a feeling of like again, you talk about like feeling like you're in an army but you know, trying to make that movie under really extremely difficulty conditions with something I was unaware of then I go do another movie which again was, you know, called search and destroy supposedly very simple movie comedy and were shooting a scene in in an airport and it was, you know, the director was an artist david sally so he said I it's fantastic we're going to have all these planes behind you it's going to look beautiful and and we said to him, well they're the planes are going to be moving their rights could be sound he said no no no that's all taken care of world thiss just for background he's a private planes no one uses them gets why cut to the scene and literally all morning all day all afternoon and all night we had airplanes taking off and landing throughout our scene on duh I didn't plan for that you know on the roulette wheel of insanity so I want to give you an example of something that recently happened may um I got a lovely note from a director he wanted me to be in his movie first time director wants me to meet him in a coffee shop and we start telling me what a big fan of mine he is and and I said that's great I love fans I'm really excited he said fact there were you know I wrote this part for you I'm really you know thrilled that you're gonna be in movie I saw I'm throwing at me in the movie it's a really great part so I started asking him questions I said you know I'm a little confused about the character though I have I have some some questions here tio answer and he got suddenly got a little funny a little stiff and he said I was going to know where were you know you don't have to worry about that because we're going to have time on the set to answer all those questions I kind of freaked out a blink practically knocked over his coffee and I said wait a minute no no no we're not gonna have time on the set to and he says, oh no, I have it all worked out we're going to have a block of you know, rehearsal time and we're going to get there in the morning we'll be able to answer these questions and I said no no we we really have to be answered them now and so I you know, I got my pen out and then he said to me he said, you know what? Let me let me just think about it you got very, like put off and he said let me think about this and I will get I'll get back to you and uh he didn't get back to me and I realized like for me in my mind I said this is a problem my roulette wheel just went off it's like what? What happened to me is like over I find this again and again first time directors overconfidence oven in experience director when an actor asks you a question you can't take it is an attack it's not an attack and guess what? You may not know the answer and it's okay to say you know what? I don't have the answer of that but I think that we go into something with these you know that's why I used that word before collaboration you're you're collaborating and an actor may say something and it may get on your nerves like you're like what he stop irritating me stop asking me all these questions but you know there's a reason like he she said he was a big fan of mine and I'm right there in the flesh and I'm asking a question and so he doesn't you know he doesn't have the answer to that and I know in my mind that that's going to be that's going to be a problem so what I wanted to say wass that let's take a little like for fun let's take this little example of ah you're going to do a movie and you're an actor and you have some questions about the script about something that you were going to dio but the director you know he kind of says here that's your job I really know one answer those questions I wantto you know I just wanted direct so I'm going to give you an imaginary scenario and you can add in any of your own but in this imaginary scenario with that let's take something like rain the sickout rain my story at the beginning and how rain is going to ruin this guy's movie believe it or not ok remember remember the beginning ileana had some questions the director didn't want to answer the questions now she goes to shoot so guess what we're going to shoot and there's seventy percent chance of rain in l a but we know it never rains in l a right seventy percent it's nothing really out of sees this but she doesn't say anything because she was told you know, made the director gets edgy when she asked questions so she's going to let it go she wants to say uh oh, I wonder if they have a cover set but no, I'm gonna stick are going to sit back she sees the first a d the gamble they do not have a cover set and guess what? First they work it rains but this scene is in a park and they hadn't planned on it raining and they don't have a cover set and the gamble for the second time they go you know what? Second rain all day come on sell it doesn't rain so everybody goes to the park now that we're already in mode like, you know what I mean? The train has left the station when your director and especially when you're working in the low budget just remember money money is being spent now we're in our cars were pegged for breakfast, the crew, the trailers, everyone is on route, you are already, you know, spending money, so now you're in the park it's raining, he decided to wait the rain out our one hour to after two hours you go you know what this is is not working? We have to change our location it's frustrating because you've already spent how much on permits you probably if you're working in a park in in california gets what you have to pay for a permit you probably needed a ranger, which you're laughing about. You're like a park ranger at fire forest fire it's raining so you're desperate now, it's two you have an eight hour day and you've lost two hours with this situation so it's time to move locations you have no money to move locations but the producer you make a secondary decision, the producer decides that his house is nearby. So you go great. We're gonna go to the producer's house. We're going to set up our next location. Guess what is traffic traffic in l a see hadn't planned for that takes a little bit like you're getting it all those trailers guess what? You have to clean up the park something you never even thought of you earlier you're tearing your hair you like? Why did I let all these people eat in the party? You know? So you were already all these things you're losing your losing time, getting to that to the to the next location, which is the producer's house the stampede comes in everybody's setting up but it's great we understand were in the war in a new location now let's make it happen we were in a park now we're on the porch art department is furious because now they're job is this is where we get into again collaboration patients temper the art department this is where you're going to see the art department flip out because now their job they don't have it they weren't dressing a porch they were in a park they've got umbrellas picnic things but they're doing the best they can they're setting up the part the grips start to dio gripping electric they're getting an art department's way gets what the actors got all wet from the rain so they're in the back bedroom now make up is setting up hair and makeup is setting up there harris to be dried group in electric is setting up gripping electorate gets what they never been in the location boom they blow a fuse now a hair and makeup is like there now they're freaking out they come out screaming our departments like what do you work? I'm trying I have to dress a porch you're concerned about actors here so that now there and now there's this tension and then the actors so grouping electric they get it they get it set up but again delays mohr delays so they're working on the hair gripping electric is setting up the deep remember the dp and the director there in the they're in the car over the dp is driving and the director is like quickly now trying to put together a completely new shot list he had all sorts of wonderful things planned you know because they were gonna park maybe he's gonna have fireworks you know but now they're now they're on a porch but it's okay it's all right all these problems get settled down we lost a lot of time but we're in here we're going to make this movie we're down to like five hours but we're going to shoot this thing actors come out start to shoot guess what neighbor has a dog a neighbor has a dog everybody I love when you're on a movie set and people always a dog starts barking and everybody actually they've never heard a dog barking so which what is happening? What is that I'm hearing a dog very a dog but he's like yes we live in a world where the people have dogs so gets what when you go to your location first thing before you do group in electric made you know scout all this area everybody's there we got to go find out about the dog producer says it's ok I know the guy let me run over there the guy the neighbor goes oh shooting a movie remember we don't have a permit let's already throw that one into the mix we had a permit to shoot on the part we don't have a permit to shoot here this is we're sneaking this in. So guess what? We have to be nice for the neighbor. The neighbor says, you know you have a permit to shoot oh, I want five hundred dollars you negotiate with him, you'll be times I've been on a movie where the producer is like, I need five hundred bucks, you know, as a bit that and these are the things that are you know they're going to be happening to you he pays the neighbor off, they shoot the dog, they take him away, no animals when they think they take the animal away, but guess what now you down to four hours to shoot so you're looking at your shot list, you only have four hours you losing the light you like? Well, ok, I'm going to have to start cutting the scene it's a nine page scene so you start cutting on the spot and they have the actors of pissed because they had all these wonderful things on pissed I had all these great things I wanted d'oh I'm seeing around, but I'm you know, but I'm here we're going to shoot the scene and director goes to watch the monitor and he's watching eliana shoot the scene and suddenly he looks at her and he goes what the hell is she doing? What is that? Where is that an accent like what is that a limp like what is she doing with the character? And it dawns on you with only three hours left to shoot you know what it comes I come to think of it I never answered early on his question that day when we were in the coffee shop because I got so caught up with my shots and my location and all this thing and now you realize like the cheese up they're you know, stinking up your movie and it's you know, like there is no way you're going to go up to her now and go hey, you know, I know you had some questions can we? Maybe can I pull you aside? No that's not gonna happen could you down to bound in three hours to shoot so you just shoot the scene, you just you're so frustrated that time you've had such a horrible day you go you know what, let you shoot the scene let's just get it over with all fix it in the editing room how many times I've been in a movie? The two things I hear the most on the movie are number one who was supposed to take care of that who is who was supposed to take care and if they look around like there's an imaginary person that we can believe who is who is going to take care of that, you know, telling us that a plane was overhead, who is who is take her at the director, not the actors, not everybody when you're wearing that director sign, especially when you're an independent director until you get to the place where you have a massive army, you know, that can take care of all these things it's, like you're the one who's got to take care of, you know, got to take care of that. Now we get our we got our she you know, we get our scene, and like I said, the guy says so right, we'll fix it in the editing room, we'll fix it in the editing room. I've got two hours to shoot, I'll fix it in the editing room guess what you're in the adding room, the editor is like this she is horrible, my advice. Listen, nothing matches there's no light ileana has an accent in some scenes she doesn't have another scene. I don't know their hair is well where some of its wet, sometimes wet something's, right, he turns races directory because you know what, I think we should cut the entire scene better yet let's reshoot it. Well, there's a problem with that? Ileana in the director no longer speaking, you know, they hate each other and his scene is he doesn't have enough, might it? Teo teo, you know, to reshoot and, uh, you know, and the movie is ruing and that is a little thing that's a little thing that's something is small is how rain can ruin, you know, you ruin your movie and the important part of, like, this imaginary story, which is not so imaginary because it's happened to me and, you know, in spades, I cannot tell you how many times it sounds like a cliche have a cover set, it's, like, look at the weather, be a weatherman do not trust your first a d who you've known for four weeks to be the weather man, you know, in your gut, because it's your if you think it's going to rain, he haven't have a backup plan have a backup plan because I can't tell you how many movies that I have been on. I was shooting a movie and again first day of the movie the movie was called alchemy and low budget film. First they were shooting in an apartment gives why the guide comes in, you have no right to shoot here and we're like we're all like, you know, some guy comes in we literally were thrown out on the street we were on the street finding a new location of a really really important scene and we scrambled and it was the same thing we we had to find a new look location and which you know with somebody's house and all of those problems that I talk about are going to arise fuses garbage dog barking, parking you know and when a director so it's like I go back to the coffee shop you try to plan you know, and I like to actually think of this because it's funny but it's also riel is that in your war room when you're making your movie or in your notebook during your notes or whatever you know, try to imagine all the things that can that can go wrong because if you have a visual I think of it it makes it more riel does that make sense? Like so it's sort of like we never really want to believe that the camera's going to malfunction but guess what? How many times have I been on his sat when the cameraman is like she's a state you know, because that's the way to fix a you know, twenty thousand dollars camera, right? You just hit its rental equipment? Who cares? But you know and you're waiting there and you're sitting there and you're waiting and one of things I do is like when you're waiting because it does happen you know try to think of something else you can do can you get a wild line can you can you do something so that you're not just paralyzed with fear and dread you know while you're movie goes down the dream um but I like to make a wheel and you know you can make it funny you could make it like nuclear threat colors you could do orange but you know if you think of it is a visual like have we done all these things have we gotten releases and permits how good do we feel about our equipment our rental house if you want a way or another one I just thought of off the top of my head the only times attire yeah you know, because we get the cheapest truck right way get the cheapest u haul truck and guess what? I get a call going this thing is we got that you know, we got some gigantic truck and it doesn't fit at the location or the tire or the thing breaks down if something is little as like what do you mean we're waiting on the truck were literally here at the location actors ready waiting for a truck look for things you know t take out traffic take into consideration where your location is going to be, um obviously los angeles is a is a prime example, but communication with an actor you know is ah you know call them how many times again have I tried to call in a d telling him I'm lost or and I can't get anyone on the phone you know, make that somebody's responsibility because you want to get those actors it's like, oh my god, the clock is soon as you wake up in the morning the clock is ticking and it's a disaster everything is set up against you you know, cover set your location ask about your location about what is in the vicinity take a look at the vote at the location you know before um just because you see a location in the morning doesn't mean when you go back there three weeks later and you're shooting there at night it could be a completely different thing you know, the really unglamorous part of movies is this but this to me is it is more important than anything because when you're down to, like I said before two hours now to shoot a scene you know and all these things killed you all these things that could have been, you know, prevented and nothing I want to talk about nobody does this anymore I actually did it in my web series every single year ten percent contingency fund to try to scrape it together it's it's too risky to go I'm not going to have a problem because you're gonna have a problem you know and you don't know what it is but like I said you may need that five hundred dollars uh you know to go ah, pay off someone for you know, for his for his dog or the actor wants something or you get some brilliant idea and you know you want fresh flowers in the scene you can run and, you know, get somebody for that um the o continue the fund is usually about ten percent of the script of the budget, so if like budget is ten thousand, the other thousand dollars budget is one hundred thousand you have ten thousand and boy you always it is a great feeling to know that you have you know that that contingency fund another thing that directors don't do enough is to actually again sit down with your line producer and understand where the money is going because you know, that is one of the great things with easy to assemble was understanding you know where the money where the money was was spent and also script again if it's a problem you know, on the script it's just going to keep it's just going to keep getting worse and so that's one of the things so it does anyone have any like thoughts or questions just about like now just about problems and I'm gonna movinto problems of acting but a little bit of problems of filmmaking yeah speaking about that emergency that happened in particular the rain I've had that happen as well but we shot through it so where does flexibility play into the planning of the day you've got your shot list why didn't they just shoot through it whether that is shoot and a ranting park? Well because again that's that's up to the director that's like a director's call if you have a scene where you have that flexibility that you could do it but again if you have a scene where you know rain you don't want the girl's hair I mean I'm curious how you were able to do that because I've got seeds like that where they go what we're just going to go ahead judith and gets what I look horrible I'm like I'm I'm all wet I'm raining you know it's I found I find it very hard to be trying to act in the rain I mean I've done that people say oh, you know you can't notice it but I have noticed that I've did is you know a scene again where where you know it the whole sky changes you know because of the rain so but I like the idea that you can be flexible you know but if but did it did you feel that it lessened well you know I think I think you bring up a really interesting point that I had for gotten it was mos so ok so get out of this way had to fix a lot of the sky and post and there was that will fix it in post thing um but there wasn't time to waste five hours on getting too an alternate said there was not you know so yeah I mean I hear what you're saying but there's also that doesn't there have to be some flexibility? Of course I mean of course there does but but that's why but I think that if you think about it so that then when the rain happens you do have that confidence and go I can handle this maybe we don't have tio but what often fought happens I find is that people are just paralyzed is like this horrible thing has happened and let's just wait it out you know that that's what's going on just a quick clarification in the chat room people were wondering could you define what m o s is? I heard that come up in her that's a fantastic question we have people of all different ability levels in the chat room so well this is going to be really fun and we're going to talk a little bit about film history do you know what mos mete out sound now? Emma last means without sound and it's so fantastic. The reason we call it mos is from a film director named ernest loopy rich and he used to say, now we do one meet up sound on so it's still called mos I love this this funnel encyclopedia film knowledge in your head. This is good. So people in the chat room keep coming with those questions. If there any terms that you need explained, we've got the expert here to do it. Yeah, great. Thanks. Anyone else? Sure, yeah, if you've seen any good techniques of regrouping the whole cast and something a situation like that, like how do you get everyone's morale back on track? I'll give you one personal one. When I was doing my web siri's easy to assemble, we were in our third season and our budgets had had gone up quite a bit and we were doing the film and we were doing in l a and guess what I had ever thought of this releases in permits, we got flipped by the union, we were in the I'm union show and what I could not believe was happening because we're just a bunch of kids doing a web series here guess what, really, guys came down from biopsy and said, we're shutting you down, and they did. We were and I was like I got fred willard and patricia heaton like we can't show what do you mean shutting down we can't shut down and I found myself with executives for my kia with actors staring at me I mean you know and I thought that went through my head of john f kennedy believe it or not grace under pressure I just thought I was like grace under pressure you're going to have to assure and so I said let let's take a you know way went into the war room I remember we all like droving cars over to one like you were like it was surreal I was like this is even a movie I don't want it and I keep dealing with that key executives and actors and we got the line producer and I gathered everybody together and we literally discussed what we were going to dio at that moment contingency find money et cetera because the union was going to shut us down that day we were going to lose a day we only had five days to shoot I was like that cannot happen so I actually surprised the union by coming back on and we estimate we went to the war room we estimated what it was going to cost you know and it was about like, you know, double our contingency fund it was I made the decision like literally on the spot I'm going to forgo my salary because in that moment I decided it was if we went down that day we were not coming back first of all, I didn't have fred willard like the next day I was not going to go up to fred willard and even tell him what happened and so I think that like I took everybody's point of view everybody was afraid everybody was said, you know let's just take the day off, which is again you'll see you'll hear this is let's just go it's not their movie it's my mother you know it's my thing so I said no we're you know we do not shut down we make the move so we went back out we told the union when I said we're union show I had no idea what that meant or how I was going to get out of it but uh I knew that on that today it was more important just to continue shooting and maybe it was for my own benefit male confidence is just to show we overcome difficulties we don't just stop shooting and everybody's respect for me you know, just just doubled and because they were like, you know, grace under pressure she and I were talking about the rain again with a guy like everybody tends to scramble but maybe again sometimes the best thing to do is just, you know take five minutes, ten minutes or whatever and it was pretty heated discussions from everybody about what is the best course of action but then ultimately the director I think has to be the you know, the decision maker and that and that was one of the scariest things that ever ever happened to me and we did it and I'm glad I went through it and guess what? Well, you know it's not my roulette will our union do you feel that you could be flipped by the union and people? And the funny thing is, ah, a year later a friend of mine get a web series and I said to her are union she goes, hey, he doesn't care about us gets what they want, they got flipped by, so it happens, you know, I you add that to your your list of problems and concerns you had a question I don't know if you've done any things they're overseas where those continues these come in, you know, besides like language or what? But um it was like an actor where there's a background or whatever it may be, how did you add that in if he was trying often, you know, that's, you know, the area and the directors were adamant we're going to do this, but you're kind of the guy who's in it really anyone he's just number ten in the back but he's like thinking that's not gonna work you know do you have the I guess the balls to go if they say you know that probably is going to work you know how's that fall into well I think it goes to what we were talking about before is that if you have a certain confidence of film history you know all these things are you know, problems that happened overseas they're going to be the same problems here or maybe they're again they're different problem but if you can be a problem solver and listen to other people's ideas about that you know listen sometimes like I said sometimes people just don't want to hear your issues and in that sense like I'm a pro I'm here what do you want me to d'oh you know I'm not going to add to the to the yelling and screaming and stuff I'm trying to get this guy's you know where the scales project done but I think that I you know, I for instance I actually act in a show that we do in sweden and everybody speaks swedish and it's but I make an effort to I learned some of the language so that I can actually be of help and understand and again people are a little put off I like I go what do you what do you call it in sweden what do you do that you know when they look she asking me all these questions but eventually people warm you know what I mean? I mean I love to ask questions I love to ask questions yeah about the rehearsal time sure when it comes to table readings yeah. What is the best way to go about that I know sometimes with script still be dialogue or it's jampacked was subtext in context or whatever but then there's only two people on the scene but you may be working for five minutes do you call? I mean it was the best method well are you seeing like is the scene not working or I guess we're specifically like in the past I've had a few actors to work out a scene but it just it almost feels like a waste of their time because it's so such a short scene or there's just not a lot going on well, I mean again that's something where you have to gauge the actors you work with you know, just say them are you an actor likes to rehearse you know, some people don't like to rehearse frank sinatra never rehearsed that he only did one take you know he did it first and then he went home, you know and everybody else I guess acted up a storm but you know, this goes back to the coffee shop you know, how many missed opportunities did he you know, because we're afraid or we don't want to hear negativity I mean I'm the same way I don't want to hear anything critical but when people ask you questions there's a reason for that that's because they have a doubt about your script and if they have a doubt about your script they don't know howto act it and if they don't know howto act it he and guess what, you're gonna have a problem shooting it I have never done a scene in a movie in which I didn't feel that there was questions and it wasn't quite working in the director didn't didn't fix it and guess what? We're all standing on the set and it still doesn't work and then frictions starts to happen because then it's too late like everybody's adding their opinion and it's all noise and a short scene you know don't take a short scene for granted you know um anthony quinn we you know, we were talking about him before he won an academy award he was on screen for eight minutes in lust for life eight minutes he wanted academy word so you know there are no short scenes and then briefly was going to talk a little bit about like problem for actors to is that I have found myself in a situation I always tell the story did the movie called to die for and did this wonderfully emotional seen it was fantastic. I was really happy is an actor's nailed it great director took me side he said I had the wrong lens on and could you do that again? It was like I didn't even know what that meant was what does that mean wrong land? Isn't there one lands and safe up? Okay, that's where I learned lenses, they have the different and so he wanted to be closer. He wanted to be in a close up, and so I had to rio to on the spot did redo what had been organic and so I said, you know what? I'm going to meet I can do it, I'm going to need some music, so for me, music is very helpful tool but if you're using, you know, music to prepare again when you're on a mountain guess what rule harder to you may wanna you know, but those of those things is a tool like it sounds, you know, uh, you know, like exposing a magic trick, but there are things you have to do is that you have to be able to laugh, you have to be able to get angry, have to be able to cry again and again you have to be able to cry before lunch you have to be able to cry after lunch you know, a movie that I did, you know, cape fear we did, you know, the first hour, the first day we shot for, you know, fourteen hours of getting beaten up so I'm done right? No, I go home, I go to the hotel, I have to me, I have to get up in the morning, I have to put my I have to go get beaten up again for another whole day, you know, so it's being able to sustain those moods and again that's where all this background of training and movies you know, the director just expects you to come and be, you know, like, come on, I'm just going to shoot now and you're going to get beaten up for two days, but you know, you have to be at the top of your game and that will make him at the at the you know, the top of the top of, you know, their game another example I used was a movie that I did with my buddy richard dreyfuss and the director who I adore, john mcnaughton wanted me to be in the movie and I said, I can't do a yiddish accent though I said I'm italian, I'm not, and he said you'll get it that's what he said you'll get it yeah cut too are they were shooting and he comes over to me because giuliani cell like barbra streisand with with the accent I was like I said weeks ago, you know? And so I'm on the set doing my I've just been told they sound like barbra streisand and, uh, guess what? We're shooting it right now, you know, we're not tomorrow, like, right now, so get is an actor, you're going to find yourself in a situation where you're not at the top of your game and with in a way that's good, you know? I'm like, ok, uh, this accent is faulty, and so what can I do? I go back on my training sanford meisner live truthfully under the given circumstances, you know what went into my mind? Because I was like, stop thinking about the accident, you know? Listen, your accent maybe is going to go in and out that's forgivable, but try to concentrate, I'm living truthfully and that you know, on and take out the pressure of the accent because all I'm going to be thinking about is is the bad accent but all that training and stuff and are going to give you tools when you get in trouble that's the thing that's, why it's like, you know what? I need to see a bunch of old movies it's like you don't if you have a perfect career and everything goes great and you know your cast and spielberg's movie and he's genius and you have nothing to worry about but you know when you're with some of these first timers you have rain or you have the year late it's cool I got it I got it I have a whole bag of tricks you know, like a carpenter I know what to do you know when this goes wrong in terms of fixing it one more question I can't in here from the chat room you talk a little bit about having that friction sometimes on set but people sharing their experiences on films the question is what is the best way to handle interpersonal communications you know, sometimes actually people fighting on this set how often does this happen and what's the best way to remedy it it happens all the time and I think we've all seen like the famous you know david o russell you know lily tomlin exchange also christian bale gets what I'm going to surprise you I am totally on their side totally on there aside when you're making a movie you know you're under really stressful situations and I think you know, you cannot take things personally you cannot I've told you there's you're with a group of people oftentimes you don't know these people and people yell because they're tired they're hungry, they're not getting paid a lot they have their own movie why am I wasting my time with your movie? You know, so all these people bring in these projections in a film so I think it's really important too number one not take things personally I have had actors just turn around told me to shut off I had a dp I was asking a question and we're now friends but he was asking questions I said what's the shot and he goes shut up, you're not even in the shot I said I am in this shot him in the whole movie have been here every day I'm standing right here, you know and humor I always used to humor, but it's, you know and again sounds like you know, a mom saying this but like, you know, ten second rule count off ten seconds before you say anything, it is so easy in the heat of the moment, you know, to say something terrible, but the other big thing is like, you know, get what you want I had obscene when I was doing my my easy to assemble, I think the worst thing than fighting on the second I don't mind fighting at all it's like I don't take it personally, I truly believe that like fighting on the set is, you know, we're all passionate, we're all artists I would worry if there wasn't any fighting in a sense because you're arguing a point of view you want to make you know you want to make something really good um but sometimes, you know, uh, it's more troubling for me, you know, when your have a dp that that to me is worse, you're a director and you have a dp and everybody's yelling at you and you have all your wonderful shots and then somebody looks that you go, we've got to get out of here, we got to get out and we're like, I know we gotta go, we gotta go now we're gone, we're shutting down, we're shutting down and you get these people in your life, you find yourself, like, crumbling and you're like now, my vision I was in my better masterpiece it's all and it can be pulled away from you, and I think that in those moments where people are yelling at you is more scary than people yelling and when somebody is yelling at you and like, you literally just have to stop and you're like, now we are getting and I'm speaking from personal, we're getting my slow motion push in that I plan and, you know, I got into like, a big, you know, because I had that thing like we've run out of time we cannot do the shot, and I was like, we're doing the shot, you know, I went over, they were laughing, there was like, a bowl of crackers, you know, I didn't yell in anybody, but I went over and I took my fist, and I smash those crackers as hard as I could, and then I was like, I'm getting my shot, and every time I was in the editing room, I'd look at the editor. I was like, you know, many times they would let me do this thing, and it was like, my whole it's, your whole film is based on one shot. Man. You have to get that shot by hook or by crook, or or, you know, whatever it is, but I dance you question. When people are are yelling at you, try to, you know, step away.

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.