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Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Lesson 10 of 10

Working with Cinematographers with Anastas Michos


Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Lesson 10 of 10

Working with Cinematographers with Anastas Michos


Lesson Info

Working with Cinematographers with Anastas Michos

Uh cinematographer shooting the scene and right before the scene gets shot he turns to the director and the director and he says, what is that in front of my scenery? And the director says those air my actors today's next guest does not feel that way I know that because not only has he taught classes four actors and with actors he's worked with actors as filmmakers david devito and recently angela bassett actually, we're honored to have a cinematographer who cares a nasty ass miklos everybody please welcome tops welcome this is robert malala zone illeana douglas how are you meant I am well, I'm doing great thank you for joining us you know we've been going on and looking into this idea of collaboration you and I have talked before about your working I want to let's not bury the lead you've taught a class which I find a very curious, tightly titled class called cinematography for actors let's start right there. What is the nature of cinematography for actors? That's an excellent questio...

n I've done very many curious things and that came around um actually in will you the classroom was ah sort of a compilation of various ideas about what it means to be on set and what it means to be in a collaborative art is basically what it isthe you know, I mean we all get together to make a film and I don't know the entire gist of what you've been saying but we all get together to make a film on an interesting in that well before the actors are involved the writing period of prep period the preproduction period all happens people cast casting does um some scripts of course are written the specific actors in mind but many of them have changed because you know actors aren't available and so so who would be perfect for your role etcetera um so part of the class that I was teaching waas a what happens on a film set before you step into the door and the amount of preparation is going on and the other part was what is the interaction with camera? Because so often I have seen that there is a sensibility that talent trump's technique and actually way are are all artists and craftsman and to understand film as opposed to theater which also has technique I want should understand what filmmaking is and it's not just a make believe world where the space exists for actor to put a character there are others involved so that has a has a multitude of facets to have a discussion that I was teaching before ileana jumps had just one of the bio sort of bullet point about that class two questions was in a class that you taught for actors or did you teach it who were the students were the actives is there okay, a seems actually kathleen turner that was the next question you talked a while, lou you know she was having she had an acting class uh and when you and she had asked me to come in and lecture one last thing that promise what surprised you you have you have a room full of students who are actors you have kathleen turner is acting class and you're teaching this this this kind of pattern of information what surprised you about misconceptions? Were there any groups gross misconceptions the young actor didn't know what don't making wass you know, I mean, there seems to be two different paths and so somewhat odd teo teo haven't divergent so much what's one of the great things about working with actors and directors or directors who have active is because they understand the entire construct um you have young actors who show up have no idea why we do what we do and again, if I may is such a collaborative form that you know, various directors looking actors differently. But you're just a piece of a puzzle a character is just a piece of a puzzle within your own narrative, and it depends on how that character reacts not only to is his environment and another character butt to the camera in general as to whether or not the stories went unfold and the emotional impact of that moment will unfold and they're dramaturgy will unfold and so it's kind of interesting that you see on actors hone their craft without having a sense of how that fits in to the grand scheme of the dinner if you will you know I mean, if you want to put it in chef terms for example, directors of chef is cooking a lot of stuff you know, something's going toe sitting with this grand scheme with that element didn't quite understand what do you think about that leon as a prototype for a class let's say class of actors teaching them about the the ways and means of making a film? I think it's fantastic I was telling this story earlier when I did this film to die for so I did about four movies and, you know, gave this wonderful emotional performance and then the director has been sampled me aside and said I had the wrong lens on and I was like, what he is what camera what he say? How do you what do you be there? Only like, what does that mean more than one thiss idea I'm you know, it was like the miracle worker I understand, you know, I was like, wait a minute, you could calibrate your performance to different lenses, and I became that for me was this it was a turning point up until then you know, I showed up like you like you were saying, you know, I showed up, I'm emotional hit my marks and everybody else does everything else. But once I understood that the camera could be my friend and again you may think this to some actors you have a great sense of the camera and it's really you can use that camera really to be your friend and I really got involved in understanding what this lens wass how how much of the shot was there? You know how much to use your arm within the frame? What's not in the friend. I always like to know what the what the frame is on dh and how I calibrate my performance within that frame that goes back to me loving movies and understanding what they point and I'm not interrupting but no polices is that is technique. And because his technique it's learned, you know, it's it's a skill and on within the context of what you were saying it took, you know, augusta tio like that little bell and go oh yeah, of course that makes sense. You know, rice, what happens? And so often I I am met with the idea that somehow the rest of the film crew, the entire conglomeration and nasa people have been assembled to create this thing are just there to record the words and emotions of an actor when in fact anybody knows anything about filmmaking knows that not only is performance made on camera, but I'm sure your editor spoke about this before performances, maid immune editing and so often I have turned to directors and okay that was being made in the editing room yeah, that performance is going to be because we did twelve takes will be able to get the performance that director was looking for within the context of those twelve takes that line there this line here the reaction shot over here the reverse there and also if you could take a performance and turn it on its head in the editing room as you and I have seen so often you know so it's just for actors to understand that that it is it is a part of a puzzle another thing I was talking about before was having a commonality of language and that's why watching films is so important and when you're, uh you know, working with the director you know, I you know with a dp and I you know he comes to me and he says we have this line here and it says time stands still what do you mean by that? And so you go oh, you go to a movie reference so that you're both have the same language and I was going to stay talk to ask you about that with your working with director when that in this helpful or when you feel this director and I are not on speaking the same language and do you get into trouble in that sense one always does and that's part of actually interesting enough the entire quote I'm going for a meeting with the director and it starts off with on your initial hiring yeah is do I can I can we find a commonality of language to start with right and uh for the most part it could be anything that could be a film based novel based music face pop culture it could be historical it could be a myriad of things that you go home onto it t get your point across I worked with directors way back when in my operating career that used to hand instead of headsets right before shots and I listen to the score I always ask to see what the thing to understand what the score is peace before I actually like the scenes look at the same because it is the symbiosis of all those um expressions that bring the emotion to the same many times I'll be watching an actor listening to something and some actors listen to their level lines on headsets on on their under funds and some actors put a specific piece of music on you know because that puts him in a place on dso that place you know I'll go up in assets or he wasn't it, you know, because I'd like to know what the place is what is your point? So there's yet absolutely commonality that language isn't a set, you know necessary? I want to sharpen sorry times they want to sharpen this idea little bit the toss mentioned and I want to start with you what is what is the ideal relationship? Do you want an actor to know what an eighteen millimeter lens does to their performance or is it simply a mindset thing? Do you simply want the somehow acknowledgment that it's all the machine the acting is part of this puzzle piecing or does it doesn't really help an actor to know what is the difference between the key light? What is a total light? I mean, are these linguistics really how precise a linguistic knowledge didn't want an actor to possess? It doesn't have to be precise at all it can be into it in a sense that, um um the idea of actually having, for example, I want to go back into talking for example, speaking to a musician, if you're speaking to a composer about your piece, I do have to actually know what all mental fifth is do you have the national with tongue scale is or do you actually have to have a sense of what the music history is at a reference point for it, so I don't expect actors nor directors to be directors of photography because we are, you know, I think that for the most part we actually in our own egotistical sort of near away is like we are the condiment of many of the genres and disciplines that come to set because it does come from camera. But actors need to know whether or not the she's the pattern of the shoes air period, not with your character, they would have that discussion. And so as that is, they also should understand what the night of the room is going to be live a certain way like dark, neat, you know, intense using shadows whether or not abused long lenses or hand held was the intent of the of the technique is so they don't necessarily have to understand how you arrived at it, but what is the intent of that technique so that they will listen to a piece of music and hurt a discordant record? It brings an emotional response if somebody said to you, this is all I mean played with discordant kind of course, you know, it's going to be all eight tonal is going to be all syncopated. It brings a different kind of sensibility. If I said to you well, case can be like a wall it's you don't have to know I don't compose either one of them but you do have to have a sense of what one is versus the other it's interesting not to be because I couldn't possibly we don't enough time in the course but you know I was thinking oddly enough is tak is it sends about is that your christian bale had that kind of well known blow up on the set of a terminator film and one of the essences you know no I wasn't there but one of the essences was he was doing a scene I think with bryce dallas howard and someone was tweaking a life and he's it seemed to set him off now we don't know what came before or after but I guess tusk I'm sorry I just want to follow up with one question does the converse hold does do the crew members in the cinema and does this director photography need to understand what the actor goes through absolutely need to understand andi no part of that's experience I'm part of it is respect for the craft um just as I respect the actors craft and understand that they have to be that particular every actor gets so emotional place in a different way and there's so much pressure about being on camera because literally all eyes are on you um even more so in the sense that in theater because in theater for the most part you're in the moment and the moment doesn't start, it doesn't stop once it starts to keeps ongoing filming, you know you're paid to wait on so well, it is the truth because, you know, way, shoot if we're lucky, we'll shoot for three minutes, four minutes of film the day, and, you know, we just spent twelve hours to do it, so obviously the actor is acting that much, so their respect towards what the actors craft is, uh, is absolutely necessary, and it is a two way street of many times, and I'll say that the actors as well, I mean, many times people come up with some now think that standards can actually do what actors do you know that rehearsals aren't immediately that having as innate sense or understanding of what the scene will unfold like, well, actually make for better films, because everybody will be prepared for what's about to come? Um, the specific incident you were talking about, that particular gp had a replication of what we call tweaking, and the reality is is tweaking is as soon as the director says kightly coming, you need two more minutes to move the light need thirty seconds to do something, you know, that kind of with him breaks anybody stride on the other hand, I don't know whether or not he actually had enough time to actually at the set of principles so yeah it that instance banks more questions than it answers of course I think it's a it's an interesting philosophical piece of protein what ileana and what about your reflection on working with cinematographers do you feel there's a difference between cinematographers who respect oh, of course I mean again I have such respect for the craft you know, I've been you know, my very first cinematographer I worked with with nestor all amman drove so I was like I was already you know, he gave me his book goes read you know, but I have always had a love of you know why I work with freddie francis I you know, I just I I love you know, I asked questions and and I make fun of them, you know, caleb deschanel worked with my grandfather, I worked with him I mean, again talk about tweaking like I'm getting old by the time we light this thing. So you know to me it's appreciating each deep, you know, dps in my opinion, you know they're very idiosyncratic, you know, they have their own quiet thing, but again, I you know, there's nothing better than, you know, working with cinematographer that again is comes up and helps you shows you a light move your face here you know there were because again it's all a collaborative process one question I wanted to ask really quickly because again we're talking about training and people not knowing tell everybody what a gaffer does and again like you see people because again as an actor you say ok, I know him he's the dp who are these guys you know, like who are these other people and how can they help you that's my number one question one question too is we think of the dp and the director they have their relationship but I find again what is it credibly crucial is the dps relationship with his crew because they're really the guys that are putting everything into action? So those that question I'd be really fascinated tio here about great question toss stroke one gaffer which may even be you know, do you still use the word? Is it chief lighting technician you take away the subject of the gaffer question number one? Well, there is that there is a sensibility in united in the united states has ah hierarchy that england's a bit different and japan's more different but in the hierarchy of trying to you have an army of people come to a common vision but that sense one has to have a hierarchy, so if the director has hired and collaborated with his key hasn't department and myself being the director of photography, I have a group of people that I work with and under the electrical side here, united states with the lighting side, the the head electrician's is called the capper, and he usually has five or six people working with him. I mean, on a daily basis on a normal size movie, and it can run up to twenty or thirty people in for big night shots on dh. Then I also have a gentleman, a key grip, which is the mechanics of dough, making the actual engineer. If you want to look at it that way, the gaffer would be the guy that I would collaborate with and discussing what might I want put up where or sometimes it's a long term relationship of two saves the quality of life rather than a specific late, and they would then turn to their crew, and I'm able to have that happen. The key grip his job is it's, like the calf is in charge of lighting the key groups in charge of shadows, and nothing is done in any painting or any photography without the idea of shadow, because shadowed is where where we hide and where we hide is, where is what's most interesting, and for an actor, what's most interesting is to let out. The emotion of the scene or the intent of a scene hidden part of the scene bit by bit so when I look at a scene so light it, I actually look at the drama turgeon receive what is the drama? What is the arc? What are we doing? Why the actors here what's the intent and then how do I put that in terms of light and dark? So my key grip is the dark guy and he's the women shadows things he's also the guy who I'd say, I want to get a camera swinging through the air two hundred fifty land over here how did we do it? And he'll go well, I've got an idea and so he'd be that guy um so it really broad strokes that's what it is but um it's all a collaboration and when the actors come on set for the most part those guys have gone because a we still have a camera department in the room, you know, an operator and assistant a second way of sound, a boom empty room and we have actress to stick in there on then we might have somebody doing some sort of thing like, you know, visual effect, bang with physical effect things so we try and keep all the electricians and gaffers money out on the actual set williams you've been saying very consistently today but asking questions I had when I was growing up I was david mamet's system and I used to run around and asked people on the set questions I would just throw that to utah's for a moment what about actors asking you questions what's use actors and if an actor comes up to you said hey, how are we going? How are you lighting this scene? Would you rather they be the progenitor of the questioning or like how to question sit with with the technical components of filmmaking in general? What is it simply a dialogue I mean, how does communications right away the first film I ever did with edward norton was called people was alive meant uh I was operating yes yeah and I think it was day three when he and I started chatting. There was no question that that a edward was interested in the process and he was going to be directed. Why? Because he was interested in is a smart guy was actually interested in what everybody's job wass and why were they there? What was the intent of it? You know and edward, as you know from this private previous phone our primal fear which was his first film larry for a second is not only great talent has got amazing technique as well as in and he's honed in on that so as a dp I'm gonna regina vitamin b z was also a guy pepper me with questions all the time and it was always fun because it was always you know, like I pepper actors with questions in terms of what are they thinking and where they're not and finding the right time to do so you know it's the same thing with the converse that with it's the intent of the question that makes it interesting and collaborative if somebody says well why you lighting the scene that way you know rather try and understand the intent of legs they're questioning why this seems being lit the film said is no place for that kind of collaboration because I've got a first abc their director well already talked with at home like scenes so we wanted to take that a step further than that goes through the director because in order to maintain a the higher archy which is the never the necessity of singularity of vision otherwise phones would never get made they all end up like architecture which poor architect's that's one of those things and I'm gonna die aggress like to be an architect and put your work in front of the committee and next thing you know this thing has appeared his crazies so at least the domes we have a director we sort of like push it that way ah but in terms of actors coming to me if it's if it's if it's with curiosity in a collaborator note that absolutely if it's questioning whether or not they think it's right for their characters, then that goes right to the director because you know they then I r do not I don't have the the time nor the hierarchal authorities does that right? Because then it becomes an interpretation question which is kind of little goche and I mean, you know, have you ever felt comfortable enough ileana to ask of a cinematographer and interpretation question why why is it depends again, I'm who the dp is sometimes again you have dps that in a very nice way I was, you know, again one of starting out tell you that if you sit a certain way or look a little a certain way it's going to be helpful and in that way you feel that you know, you are collaborating with them I mean, I I tend to pepper them the opposite way I come, I watched all their movies and I go, can you do that shot on me that get there? Uh, this one of the interesting things talking to kathleen because one of the things that you know acting is you're putting your face, your persona, your body, your physicality out there and you're putting it out there with all of this beauty in all of its flaws and the character itself has always carries the part of the actual actor one of the most interesting things that we have to do a film a specifically with mostly women actors and men specifically in studio movies from the way less of independent films is to create a persona of a character does she look beautiful? What is the idea behind beauty? What is classic feminine beauty doesn't work for this particular scene or not, but when it does so many times a cinematographer can be caught between on actor and there's an actor I worked with the male after who's gonna be out now they're very many things actor who only wants to be shot looking right to left because you like you know is right side of his face, you know? You know, so that's it just that's and you know and one can accept that in the beginning of the film has a challenge I want cannon russianoff one can say, ok, you know, I could make a damn good movie and I'm happy looking right left the entire movie just because I can or, you know, are those actresses that say I don't like the like this higher that low and you're going go this character this moment with the director, we decided that this is where that intent of emotion lies, so it does depend on how the actor and what they're bringing to the question you know and why yeah yeah recently in l a is working with a after I was assistant on bringing out a seven camera was on and I was like you know, uh one of the reasons is the director and I acted so point of director but one of these is that way decided this is the camera and we want to use right you know why? Because that editorially that's where he wanted it to be because editorially and you were mentioning something really about studios taking over pictures and how you shoot a picture and who were making movies for its collaborative are isn't it directors movie no it's not you know I mean we do work in the age of uh literally sponsors so if somebody's giving you a bunch of dough to make a movie uh yeah she had to listen to their opinion about what you're making sure that you know yeah s o that all ties into the question too about how you approach as an actor how you approach dps or anybody on set in terms of how the characters perceived it does have to come from appointing collaboration one on one kind of final chapter of thought here toss and ileana just this is the wheel house because it's looking at your work you've worked with a lot of actors who have become filmmakers danny devito about angie bassett, angela bassett, norm the way we had on creative live not too long love casey julianne is directed so let me start toss let me start with you and then we could get billions perspective do you feel what's what's your reflection on actors who who transition into filmmaking? We don't have to keep it so broad because I'm sure each director is different but do you think acting is a useful segway into filmmaking? Do you think there's a skill set that one cultivates is an actor that improves the directing craft for that? Is this the artist in question? Uh yes I do and I read in I stopped to qualify it just a little bit was because, um it improves as an actor you can understand where other actors are out right and has been a sensibility or a compassion and empathy for houses to communicate so many directors I have worked with don't understand the art of communication they just don't know how to talk to people you know, they just it center because some after some directors I don't like being on set some directors don't let actors just don't like actors, you know uh they like the other parts of anything but they just don't get the talking to the party yes, I do feel that you you comes and come to the table with a little bit more ammunition if you will to complete your project and to be loaded up on it a little bit because you have understood that part of the process uh you you can't be scared many people are frightened to talk to actors because they somehow think you know they're unapproachable or something but you know you have to understand that you know it's a collaborative process and if it's not going right there nobody looks set to be active when it's not going right where everything looks at the director when it's not going right if the actors if the actor is struggling it's the director who gets the looks yeah so way to use the word of the day on the tweet the quest tweak the question a little bit iliana what did you what new that sympathy but what insight did you gain about the filmmaker from becoming a filmmaker you know all I never realized the filmmaker goes true this oh I never well of course I was you know I grew up you know this was saying when I was a kid I was sitting on the set of being there watching my grandfather melvyn douglas act with jack warden and peter sellers and you know it was a temple of art so that afternoon yeah so I went it was like I went backwards I've now still trying to keep the temple of art in my brain while I'm you know, shooting a movie in a day so the that's what I try I try to bring to the set again a sense of passion enthusiasm I'm very interested in what everybody does that's what you know when I transitioned into into directing I love the process of filmmaking I find it exciting I miss the sound of film there was just this wonderful sound of film and it felt very exciting and it's hard it's harder to keep your passion going I think as a you know as you continue on making a you know filmmaker also the other idea is that as you become a director it's one thing to have a bunch of grand ideas but then putting them into practice in your first film which usually don't have a lot of money and and I think that that is something that again you you could fall apart you know what I mean if you didn't have the background of oh you know the actors but it's but you know, in terms of leaning on getting experience people around you because as I transitioned into directing knowing to utilize other people on the set and bring them into my my filmmaking again I was talking about before overconfidence oven in experienced director is like my number one thing that people you know people feel is if you're being you know like they're attacking you if you ask the question and it's you know it's a collaborative medium and really bringing somebody in to that can you know that can help you that you can lean on uh working through this process, you know, having a shot list I mean, these are all the things that as an actor I watch and I go he doesn't have a shot list bad day director we're gonna have a shot list, so I think it's things like that that you you know, that you learn trial and error like I think I'll have a cover set because I remember that day we didn't have a cover set or you know, just those you pick up, you have the great ability to pick and choose from the directors you have loved and you're like I'm going toe set the tone the way that did and then you're gonna be I'm not going to be the yelling director, how about that? I'm never going to be the guy that screams that someone in front of everyone so you bring all of that knowledge I think is an actor and sensitivity into the filmmaking and then yet on that like if you love films you trying to uphold a certain standard in certain craft we've talked a lot about a lot of great stuff with you toss today but one final question, which is really the most important question it's on everyone's mind where did you get that scarf? I need one of those I it's, very happy. Makes you get well again. As I said to our editor, guess bill pay go. Be careful what you say. We would be honored to have you here with us. This has been amazing. I mean, honestly, this is the type of conversation, as you say, tuhs, it shouldn't happen on this. Said it needs to happen now. So thank you for being with us toe. Have michelle's, everybody. Thank you so much. I'm just like a students. I mean, I could talk to of all day when you hear all these stories, you know, he's. A very interesting. That what? The world particularly interested that won his candor and bill's candor like this is great. This is really how you learn, aziz, you suggest one of the things that I think is really difficult about filmmaking is we start out his movie lovers, and when we get into the business were like, what the hell's going on? I love movies. Why isn't this working right? You know, it's one of those art forms that most people are fans of, yeah, where they do right here, an exception because you had the history of the family, was there? Yeah, but you've reconciled it beautifully, there's a there's a fantasy to film and a love of film and then there's a reality to the work of film that balance is necessary right? Yeah definitely you keep you still keep it to you are you always refreshing your love of film will that never go work yeah that will never go away I mean again because it's part of you know I you have to think of yourself as an ambassador of our craft you know we are a member of screen actors guild I am a member of the academy you know I vote on those movies I take it seriously my grandfather was, you know, in the studio system for forty years maintained a career for sixty years um and you know, it is an art form I wish more people thought of it as an art form in is we're transitioning into things and things were so technically available now you know, we're forgetting that it's also an art form we're throwing away things like spending that time the light something you know that's an issue that I experience on doing low budget movies where there's not enough time to light things properly make them look beautiful you know, a cz we get to questions and that can simply be thoughts as well the thing the labute said keeps ringing in my head, he said, paraphrasing but the things I can't do I called art forms you know, art is the thing he cannot do yeah, but that was kind of beautiful and it's interesting because most of the, you know, box populi maybe doesn't look at film a czar because it's sort of it doesn't feel important or just becomes this a washed out thing, but it's a lot it's an art form? Yeah, and it needs to be taken seriously. Well, again, we were talking, you know, collaboration, collaboration, it's like again, this sense of knowing who the dp is knowing who the editor is, you start to feel like you're not as he said, you're not just the actor showing up there and doing something you're part of a big, you know, picture, but I also love the fact that he insisted even knowing that that look it's the actor's face in front of the camera that's not that wasn't trivial to him, you know, despite all the mechanistic nature of the set, the actors on the line it's the actor on that front line that that's important, I think, for filmmakers to remember amidst this sea of collaboration, the actors being photographed that's a big deal well, again and there's a separate pressure, you know, probably which we again we didn't even get into this where you're dealing with a big budget film star who has got to look fantastic. And it was very interesting he touched on this idea about women and illusions and it was everything we're saying before you know it is she the maryland arose shia luminous she had goddess all these things that that we you know what I think of the movie moulin rouge what did that? What did the deep what was the you know what was bad letterman's? You know that again? Is this like just every shot she looks stunning what the dp and he go through to achieve that you talk about what we were off camera talk about film or a little bit that's the nature film or it was this character what is he or she represent and how do we light it? Yeah, you know that's the beauty of film art? Yeah, mark and they were having fun with film normative absolutely thought his questions reflections that's a lot to take in. We have bill we had tough. Yes, it seems like very, very recently in the last ten years. Certainly digital video has become the standard. Yeah, rather than being the thing that you did when you were desperately short of money. And I mean, I've noticed that it's gotten much better, but I wonder, is anyone shooting on film anymore? And if not, what do they feel has been lost? In that transition, you know, much like some people are now starting to buy vinyl because they feel like something has been lost on on cds I'm just you know this well, I talked about this before quentin tarantino is like one of the black you know, last people who's actually working on a film he says he's goingto work on film that's his medium that's what he wants, he just feels that has a different texture, you know? Obviously you know I'm not skilled enough t know except as an amateur yeah, the grain of film, you know, just it just had a different look it was, uh, it's very hard to light digital we still haven't gotten it quite right. You know, the colors change, however, then there were all these technical things and you can fix things later on if you have the money, you know, but you could fix it in post yeah, but if you don't have the money to fix it in post, you know again, we're not that's a whole separate issue about the expense of digital digitizing all these things are the more film you shoot, you know, digitally more you have to digitize that's expensive uh, the equipment is your editor have upgraded equipment to do all this stuff when you're doing these these your final color you know, some of these machines are extremely expensive and the rental of these machines and your dp may have said he was skilled in this, you know, but he isn't really skilled, so you know, people say that they're good in color, so there's a lot of new technical skills that we all have to be aware of that are different than film and there are filmmakers who still carried the torch of film very actively. Christopher nolan is always on the front lines of thirty five millimeter yeah, you're martin scorsese amateurs you know, he always talked about film preservation, right? You know, but chemical laboratory processes have become expensive technicolor which is not too far from the brill building in new york is a shell of itself. Yeah, it's not simply that film has changed everything around. It is always changing as well. One of the night their question is naive at all it's actually the opposite of mate. But what it's? Not a simple thing that we're doing replacing one for the other it's all these other things around you the expense of the equipment that itself you know and this is another thing with camera equipment exactly and the processing equipment and a lot of people think oh, I missed the days of blade runner where everything was built with little models it's more expensive too build with models than it is to do a pixar film that that could be done what she plays so you know what there's this other thing like david david lynch after he shot inland empire two thousand six which is actually his last film he said I'll never shoot on film again so to save that film is simply for the purists and digital is not I don't think is accurate is well just one last thing for homework homework watch side by side you know this documentary side by side to me it's the best description streamable on netflix I don't want I don't work for any of these people and it's the best description of the differences the nomenclature the good the bad the hyatt below what you're going to find watching this documentary is it still a split it's still a sport for every george lucas who said film is dead there's a christopher nolan that says I'll always work in film so yeah it's to get to secular about it I think is to you could be case to everything ducks from like you said people then want to listen to vinyl you know exactly exactly taste romance craft what I missed about it as I was saying technically and again these days are over it's it's just they will come no more was this idea of the sense of of being on a set it was kind of sense of peace while somebody got the film it felt like being in church you know? Somebody got the film they loaded the film everyone was very quiet you know, thinking about the scene the film went up it's in the can you know we're ready to go and there was a sense of anticipation and you know you'd be next to the camera and you hear that little were of the camera stuff and it felt like wow doing something really important I think that's right I think that's so right on it you know I'll just look at it through a film school paradigm a lot of young filmmakers when I was growing appointed film you were afraid to hit we should you know yeah we kind of feel that's expensive yes that's ready sure now it's like go go go riding and riding and just keep going like running eighty two takes that find me on you know so it's a different it has changed the mindset of film totally in the mindset of craft yes and toss is in that documentary side by side very briefly just uh just popped into my mind certainly to follow up on your question I'd say we're probably never going to go away because it's always going to archival format because digital changes so much between yeah thing I would say is ten generations from now those that audience is going back at film saying by their looks funny yeah I think that's already happening actually, I know people have seen films I do screening, sometimes I'll do a screening with the guests will say when we showed the blue ray instead, the blue ray looks pristine, like you cut it out, you could eat off it, and they don't even want to film anymore. I could just one quick ascent, thiscreate recently, I know I did this increase, I know I did, I did screaming of two thousand one recently, every print is in such disrepair and poor coloration that you there's almost a point, the liliana, where you're almost not experiencing the intent of the film. I know what you're saying. Yes, do you know? And I know you know marty talks a lot about film preservation that's a different thing, but yes, there is a reality to the way we see films now, in a way, I heard john landis talk about this land is showed a blue ray of american werewolf in london, and you know what he said to the audience? He said, I haven't seen my film the way I shot it twenty years thank you, thank you for doing that. So there is a kind of yeah hook, you know, and the hookers, we can see films with their original intent, now, can't we? Yeah you can I mean I still you know there is a reno seeing a movie and a crowded audience I mean I just went through you know turner classic movies and you're you're watching a print of marriage italian style cinemascope I mean you know you don't get that at home especially with a foreign film right? Because it's a little hard to follow a foreign film at home and you television subtitles is it does make a little bit easier I think to watch it in the film are certain films of course you know demand to be seen on the big screen I think I agree with you it's it's a bittersweet don't say battle but I'll give you another sorry just a quick aside it I was organizing screening of lysistrata following these films you know you can't get a print of that in the united states you cannot get a print I called people from moment from one considered this dilaurentis has them they're all in california or in italy we could show a blue ray so in a way yeah I'm not trying to be the year here I think it's a complex issue yes it's not just church and state and neither in between yes there's ways and means to it yeah you get to see the movie in some fashion and hopefully again one day maybe try to see it in the theater you know just because again you you have the vision of what the dp wanted you know again that's a that he's a prime example it's like ok, you can see it at home but to see something you know the jack cardiff shot from on the big screen you know powell pressburger is like it's a completely different experience of the great documentary about cinematography, the jack documentary and jack cardiff yeah amazing cinematography documentary and also bill pankow are editing guest said cutting for the big screen of that yeah he said that yeah, you know that cutting for the big screen how will this close up look, how will this master shot play in a big screen think that's great yeah that's true I mean, I often you know I'm caught in aa when I'm in the editing room looking at something and then the first time you see it you hear it on good speakers and you realize you have horrible sand you're listening and you're like I go with it what's the car you are you know that was there all the time we had little to be screwed you know, little italy sound it's a good point take it out of the editing room it is the other questions, thoughts, just reflections as we're kind of in the home stretch uh yeah might be a little different more from the very beginning of the syrian because you're my train so do you see schools such as that miser aura lee strasbourg very different as faras not their method but they're approached in today's world versus back then if you're a talent or you want to become a filmmaker redoing both of the same time we're because you can watch films there's even like only um fun west you could do like online audition practice where cash director is kind of read through your videos and all these new formats that wow wasn't there let's say fifty years ago yeah so going to a prestigious school such as something like a miser or think that what was great about that school is remember year in school like eight hours a day you're immersed in it you know you get there in the morning you're thinking breathing you have no you know they were so old school this is in the eighties I don't know how it is now but you you had to agree that you couldn't audition for anything else while you were there I mean you were immersed in training we had dance class every day we have valet twice a week jazz twice a week you know modern dance you know fencing I mean every element for eight hours so and then when you finish you know they would give you scenes to rehearse those scenes would have to be done you go home you're rehearsing with your partner and you know they're telling you tow you know, you you get inspired by a teacher you teachers telling you to watch this performance go to this museum go see this play and I think it's that sense of immersion of that was that was so you know, like in an hour I mean, like from what we've done today that's what's so greatly we'll all go home and, you know, I feel like really seeing a good movie or, you know, but when you're for me personally, I loved having that two years I mean, the one of the hardest things was when I left school was again trying to maintain that that passion I was I was the best train that ever wass was coming right out of school. Well, I was like, give me a seat already they act my ass off, you know, I was asking that because I thought a couple different schools and what was the miser, which is here? It's just go, yeah, and it's hard to say because, you know, I was in that time period photos like back then, yeah, it seems like it's more it's the right term, but but they're trying to sell you in there, yes is actually wanted to do it, you know, and doesn't mean that you can't come out, you know, with that skill set do what you have to do right away yeah it's like you're living more push you know that you're not sure if that's what's for you so in your own personal opinion are those type of course is even not requirement but as necessary nowadays well, I think of course I mean to me of course is always important just to see if I like it or if I don't like it you know? I mean I took some actors studio class here I just I didn't I didn't like it it wasn't for me it was like to internal I really like, you know, I really like the meisner classes but I you know but it's like go out audit a class maybe to see if you you know like it if you don't like it I mean, if you even if you don't like it, I think you can get something you know, positive or out of it. I mean, find doing it online I would find would be a real challenge no because they're also with something about being in a class and the safety of being in a class you go up and you do your scene work and then you're critiqued in a safe environment of having that opportunity you know, that's something I talk about a lot having that ability to fail before you get on a film set you know, like you know oh, the scene isn't working and you know, you stop and you have the teacher come in and why don't you try this? Why don't you try this and you can have I mean, you know when I was in acting school oh my god, we you know, I don't know what things like but we would have volatile, you know, fights, physical fights people were like it was all sorts of emotions or coming out you're doing these scenes and you know, it was really great to kind of guettel get all that out under the supervision and safety of a class environment I think that that's hard to replicate in the real world it is and I was telling my students, you know, when you go to school, you pay to fail and that's a good thing that's the good news, you know, and you know that people go to school often for community, you know, one of things and I think that's a great motivation to meet other people who are doing it one of the things tossed said that that was interesting he said, you know, I I haven't worked with filmmakers who can't even talk to people a filmmaker who I won't names once I asked him I was very young and I said, how do you become an interesting filmmaker? He said you become an interesting person first that's all he said uh speaking of interested in people you're pretty dim interesting thank you they have more to say christmas more to say but I just want to thank you you know building the film channel here you were one of the first phone calls I had because I feel like you're mixture of experience point of view and can door and gentility is it is rare thank you I want to thank you thank you and I want to thank you you don't have to clap me off but I just wanted to say that because there's no discreet way to say goodbye so we hope to see you again in these country chairs yes you well and we hope to see you guys and you guys again now I leave it to chris to wrap us outta here yeah thiss fight what he says let's give robert huge waves come to the end of our course now but it is your time to leave us with some final thoughts anything that you want to say to wrap things up to bring us all together at the end of this course well first I hope everyone's that they had a good time enjoy ourselves like remember where we started we were talking about movies romancing movies and we deconstructed movies and we talked to people behind the scenes I thought it was interesting I always love when points that I make they make too because that for me connects the dots like yeah ok I'm on the right track he's somebody I want to work with you know a director of course who had a big influence on me was gus van zandt and he painted me a picture after to die for and on the back of it he wrote be your own flying saucer rescue yourself and I thought that was one of the best phrases of you know you can climb any mountain you know you can you know you can get together with your friends you can you know if you want to make your movie you know find a way to make your movie rescue yourself don't just sit home and complain you know about why isn't the phone ringing the next thing I want to talk you know about which is what I was saying before is like passion how important passion is and all of these tools you know I want to go home and I wantto see the people that we've talked to now I wantto I have context for them you know when he was talking about the scene that he that he edited it's like ok now I want to see that and john leguizamo and that kind of passion I think keeps you threw in the days where you're looking for a job or thinking why am I doing this or I feel like I'm in a you know ah kraft and it's not appreciated which you know, sometimes we feel like again we're in the society where it's very important to be famous and who cares if the light is perfect and, you know, we watch these reality shift think there's no lighting there's though you know, there's no craft here, but but, you know, so trying to keep that sense of what we dio important another thing that I was talk about his observation keeping yourself employable in a state of being employed, my one of the first jobs ever got it was working for a film publicist, and there were all these filmmakers working in the building, and I was in an acting class and I had, you know, I have always said this was really corny, but I always had, like, monologues ready and in scenes that I could, you know, cause I would imagine in my head that director would you know, you you're the girl, I'm looking for my next picture and guess what? That's, what happened? I was you know, we we have this director frank perry was next to us and came in one day goes you're an actor right now is that I know I'm an actor works on the phone, I know when he goes no, we have this part, we forgot to cast it he goes, you haven't have a monologue baby come in my office and do a monologue and I was like, lo and behold, I actually do have a model I went in, you know, probably awful, but at least I had something I had the state of mind that I could get a job, and I think that that's really important it's like it sounds corny to feel is if, like, I'm gonna walk out that door and I'm going to get a job, but I do think that that psychology a feeling that I'm ready to work these are all the things we were talking about, I know about films, I love films, I'm interested in films so that when we have that lucky opportunity, you know, we're prepared and, you know, you don't always have to, you know, pay for, of course, it's like, you know, one of the greatest acting lessons that we can do is we all know is to go to a park and you sit on the bench and watch people you know, we've gotten away from something is simple is just observation, you know, without your phone, take your phone away and if you and so much of what I've learned his observation I mean, have you ever seen a mother you know, that loses their child for a minute you want experience terror you know, like you feel terror, you know? And so then when you're on a film set you're like, how am I going to express this terror? Oh, I remember that time, you know, you see a couple of a dinner and it's not going very well and, you know, you imagine for yourself, like who's is breaking up with who but all those observational things air free, you know, and can really again keep you in that state of employability, you know, where it's like, ok, you don't get a job, right? No one's paying you to act, but you can say, you know what? I could spend the whole day and I had to do with ileana said today today is going to be an observation all day, I'm going to get a little notebook, I'm going toe to some observations on the right and that way I think again you keep that state of mind where you feel you know you feel is if you're, you know, employable, and then the last thing I'm just going to end with, you know, again, one of my favorite people that I ever worked with was jerry lewis, and he said, you know, my work is an outpouring of love, and I think that that again is like to try to do everything you know with love and that's hard to remember of course when you're under pressure but it's like when you're working with actors when you're dealing with you know the person who's just getting you coffee is to try to you know, take all of your outside problems and you know you're an artist just and like, you know, try toe you know do everything you can with just sense of you know, peace and love and enjoyment and and feeling because I think that that comes across I mean, I think in the movies that we love we feel we know they're I mean come on we know there had to be camaraderie between harry and sally every like there is just you know, those feel good movies you know richard dreyfuss and marsha mason the goodbye girl or some of these other movies have talked about where they you can just feel the can astray, you know, lift off the screen and my final thing is we were talking about before volunteer it's like again it's not the easiest thing in the world and leon, I have a job and you have to be a waiter and I need to work but one of the easiest ways to get in the film business is to volunteer and to be a p a or an intern and sure at the beginning you're starting out you're just giving coffee but you know volunteer too help someone out because it's, like I often say, I'll say to people, you know, no one turns you down when you want to work for free it's in it's, amazing little thing, and if you're good at your job, you know, people will take notice of you and they said, and eventually human nature will be, what is it? What is that you want to dio and know I'm doing this thing? It really and, you know, we're all human beings, and I think ultimately, you know, we do take time out and help each other, but, like, try toe, look online and find places, you know, where you could be being intern, you know where you could and it doesn't necessarily have to be on a film set. I my first job was working behind the scenes for a film publicist because I love movies, and I had a good memory for films, and that was, you know, my way of getting in, and everybody wanted to work with the actors. I was like, I would work with the directors, you know, that I learned so much by working with the directors. So I would say I would go to work every day and when I had my when I was done with my regular work I would ask other people is there anything you want me to do? Is there anything you need help on and you'd be amazed people always go yes I dio and that way you build you know, camaraderie it's the same thing I was saying before about you know, doing everything with a sense with a sense of love and and in a sense of purpose and not you know and ultimately but you know be your own flying saucer rescue yourself you're gonna you know ultimately you're the filmmaker you're the actor you know you've got it, you've got to rescue yourself so I hope that's it go out, make movies made great movies and have me being them you know? All right let's give a round of applause ileana douglas all right, yeah, I'll join you for our grand finale here we want to stand up for a moment. Can I do this? We'll do this. We'll do this together. You know, I just want to read some comments from the chat room okay, enjoying this so much. Oh, gale twenty fifteen the chat room says ileana is great I'm a big fan and I'm hearing her talk about all aspects from a director and actors point of view it's a amazing on learning so much, I want more classes like this. Please have ileana do a directing class and mohr skyping with the pros. I will buy the classic whenever I feel like watching it will boost my spirit. Bahama bean says awesome insights really appreciate the gifts of time and knowledge that were given today invaluable and truly appreciated. Finally, zoo zoo says, I've been popping in and out of the class today. I'm going to need to rely on the replay and purchasing the course to rewatch it. It's been great material, thank you so thank you so much for being everybody out there really enjoyed it. I think once again, thank you to everybody, who's been enjoying the chorus, huge, thank you to our students here in the phenomenal, helping along with the content. Once again, thank you so much for being here with ileana douglas. My name is chris jennings. We will see you next time.

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.