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The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker

Lesson 1 of 17

Tanner Hall & Truth About Emmanual

Francesca Gregorini

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker

Francesca Gregorini

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Lesson Info

1. Tanner Hall & Truth About Emmanual

Lesson Info

Tanner Hall & Truth About Emmanual

Weigh everything worth anything is both terrifying and beautiful, like the first time you do something that you know is wrong, you know it's wrong, you do it anyway way knowing each other's darker, smooth and there you have it. I don't know if any of you seen tender hall but that's more or less what's going on it's a coming of age story of four girls in boarding school that I wrote with my best friend, tatiana von furstenberg. And really, how we came about making this film is we had both been to boarding school schools in england. She was a border, I was a day student at different schools, you don't know each other, and we became best friends at university and and we just spent a shitload of time together after university, doing nothing at all because that's sort of what happens after school, you just kind of spin your wheels and try to figure out what you're going to dio. And before that I had I had sold a piece of writing hbo, and so at least I had kind of figured out a little bit of...

the ropes, so we started writing, you know, actually. Ten yr holl was originally meant to be a pilot so we wrote a pilot that then we sold to paramount that then got sold to a network that then the network collapsed basically the lesson here is anything that could go wrong will definitely go wrong s o the network collapsing like oh my god that's sort of the end of like so much time and so much effort but then we managed to get the property back and we turned it into a feature film and that's how tender hall came about and we just we had the privilege of being able to just cast who was right for the movie not like names which rarely happens but it's one of the beautiful things about indie filmmaking and so that's how we were able to cast rooney mara in the lead because she done absolutely nothing before that and usually it's like you know they're the lead of your movie they've had to have done you know some sort of madness even was horrible as long as I people recognize and they want you to shove them in the film but we had a producer and investors kind enough tio you know trust us which also never happens to cast you know who was right on dso hence you know rooney mara who then three years later it was nominated for best actress for an academy award so obviously we had good taste um and you know and brie larson who's like also blowing up. Now all these girls have amazing careers on dh we went to toronto, which was, you know, super good fun and sort of put us on the map and that's just what you need to do is just like somehow, when were the other land on the map and then whatever, we got some prize things and there we go and rooney went on to do go, which I can talk to and social network and, you know, she's coming out in a really cool film now called carol with cate blanchett and, you know, I think she's doing good let's just put it that way, but this was this sort of the start of it all for her and for, you know, tatiana and I, um and that's it, mr moderator this's, good to get your back story. Anything else you want to say about getting into the film industry? I mean, when you talked about it for me, it was nice to collaborate with someone on my first film. There's you know, there's pitfalls to that, too, because of you, you know, you're sort of negotiating each other's point of view along the way, but it's a huge undertaking united made shorts before, but like walking onto a film set where there's like you know, eighty people of like crew in this and that and the other, and it was just it was an overwhelming experience s o to go through it with my best friend was sort of a nice way, you know, for me anyways, to survive because it's just really a lot, you know, it's not maybe the best way for everybody, but I found that sort of collaborating on my first film was was great and also it's, like this film would just be so different if it was just my point of view or her. So really, it was suited to both of our experiences, especially because there were four leads and, you know, we could really mind all of our own experiences and sort of, you know, kind of make each character, you know, more like me or more like her, and it was just kind of it's just work that way. How you got into filmmaking was I was a songwriter first, so I was in music not very successful, but really for me, it's about telling stories like that's, what what I do and that's what I need to do. So I started as a songwriter and then segue wade from song writing into screenwriting, which I know sounds like a kind of a nod leap, but really you know in song writing you have to tell a story in three minutes so that really gets you really good at, you know, telling a story and sort of a set amount of time and a lot like screenwriting their structure to it there's beginning middle and end and there's choruses and there's bridges and all those things actually strangely relate tio screen writing so it was kind of for me that just happened tio work as a as a good segue way at university I studying theater arts on dh semiotics, which is just a fancy word for film studies and all of that was, you know, definitely helpful it was that there wasn't very much hands on filmmaking at the school is more like theory, which is all fun and fine and good, but really, you know, I wish for myself that it has more sort of onset experience before I got to the set and was bombarded with like, a thousand questions of you know which I sort of had to they pretend they knew what was going on, which is kind of what you do in life anyways and like anyone that tells you otherwise is just straight up lying and and then I did make sure it's so that was that was helpful in terms of figuring out sort of the language of film and like how what I was interested in in I'm telling like, what parts of the story what what did I want to focus on and and sort of in making those shorts I developed my style of filmmaking on dh then I could bring that into, you know, into the feature world so definitely, you know, making shorts to me was sort of like more of my film school than then can I go to proper film school then you know, setting theater arts are watching movies and dissecting them and whatever but I'm a do er so it's like I don't like to watch and I would like to read I just like tio d'oh so it's like that's how I learned I make something shitty I figure out why it's so shitty and I make it better um that's that's it okay, so I think it's important to write your own scripts when you first get started? Well, I mean for me I'm a bit of a control freak, so I like to control and know that I'm in control and and it's like the screenplays that I've written I've made you know so it's like it's like that determination is so it's like when you write something it's going to fall apart a thousand times you know our financing for ten or hall philip our two thousand times are financing for manual came together and fell apart I was living in england at one point because it was going to be done there with this cast that went away and it's a but if it's your baby like you know what I mean you're not going abandon your baby by the side of the road so you're just going to pick it up, dust it off and you know go make it somewhere else you know, whereas my experience and it's just my experience, you know, I've been hired to do a film to direct the film and it's like I'm like great this is going to be so much quicker I don't have to write it I don't have to make hunting bag for the money I'm just going to show up and do my job and walk away and it's like not so fast because what happens in that world to is that movies come together and fall apart but it's like in my experience, this movie fell apart after nine months of my tremendous effort in rewriting for free and casting and moving to a different state and location hunting my ass off and then it just fell apart and I was just expecting like, okay, well then it's going to come back together and they were like, we'll know what kind of like now going to go do this other movie are so wait a minute, so what happened to that time and effort and whatever and it's just what happens to it is it's just but by this is gone so you know what I mean? So my advice is you know, at least at the start until you're you know, someone bigger than I am try to control your thing our own you know, option a story like own it in some sort of fashion so that like that's not an option, you know it's always up to you to pick it up, dust it off and try to figure it out again and not just sort of be left by the side of the road where they're also leaving, you know, the movie? S oh that's just my advice everyone has a different experience, obviously, you know, and also it's like the time and effort that you're goingto make trying to get hired on a movie you could be spending that time sort of sculpting your movie, making him who you know what I mean because it's like that's a long process jumping through hoops and china, you know, be the front runner which you're not going to be s o I just think that time especially when you're starting is so much better spent jizz make your movie and get to any festival it doesn't have to be some dance but just start to make some inroads because that's, how you meet people that's, how you'll then get new collaborations going and it's just I think it just the better, you know, way to spend your time. Yeah, yeah, now you touched on it a little bit, but just to reiterate the importance of starting small and building that momentum and confidence when you're first getting started in the industry, you talk a little bit about that. Um, I don't know. I mean, I think just like, you know, making sure it's I mean that's what I did, I just traveled with my super eight camera. I know that super ages may but that's what I had on dh, it looks really good. Much better than your video cameras. I assure you on dh I would just, you know, even when I was traveling, I just, like, get to some place like, you know, is traveling my friend were in portugal, and it was like, how is so beautiful here? And, like, how can we tell a story? You know what I mean? And we just like, we cast a shepherd that was in the town because it's cheaper, super cool and I wanted to film them and, like, you know, and then somebody's grandmother and we just would make up these stories we've sort of, you know, roughly right out what it was at night and then just sort of costume it and do it in the day and sort of and that really taught me teo edit because they go stuart stories were so loose that kind of was in a story and then in the edit room we sort of like force it into a story but just like you know and there's so much cheaper now just getting ahold of a video camera and traveling with it and just like when something catches your eye or seems an interest or seems beautiful whatever inspires you like just you know, just start making you know, little movies and like and now you can just edit them on your damn computer like that wasn't an option you know what I mean is they go to the center and rent the time and the whole thing and now it's just so much easier so you really should just be doing it you know and just getting getting better at it you know and working with people that inspire you like friends that like your best friend is the best person you guys have similar interests similar esthetics and just like, you know, get doing stuff right? All right I'm not going to talk a bit about the truth about emanuel and we have a trailer actually to show for this film ok yeah this where I didn't cut this one they did a good job okay my name is emmanuel seventeen years old and I killed my mother she lost her life for this aziz you took your first breath she took her last tried to revive her she was gone and I was here she did mention that she was looking for a baby sitter but I can't think of anyone at the top of my head I'll do it when we start I'll talk to her tomorrow what happens if the baby wakes up you rock her back and forth and you talked to her she likes to sometimes I just I don't want to be a mother I just want to push a button just get on with my day she has never had a mother on I think that that has created her you should wear this you you beautiful she's not your mother nothing like your mother dear me I just don't want her misinterpreting your funds you find us we going all right I just don't think he's boyfriend material for you would be kind of nice though can't be the three of us forever I'm just dying that baby weight I think she's starting to love me the way she loves you so it feels we owe any words about that trailer anything you want to talk about there no I think they did a good job with the trailer they definitely pumped up the sort of thriller aspects to it because you know genre sells, you know, through their cells on dh you know, this movie is, you know, is a drama with thriller elements, and but, you know, that's what one of the things you learn when you make a movie is sort of like what they decide is going to sort of pull the audience in, and then you battle with them to make sure that it's at least an accurate portrayal of what theo audience is going to see when they get in there and this one I did on my own on dh, that was definitely a different experience, and it was positive and negative, like, you know, I didn't have anyone to turn to to be that now what? But I'd had, you know, ten or hall behind me, so it's, like I was definitely I felt more confident and more experienced. Andi, it was great to, you know, work with offer molina was just like a joy and all of them. Jessica, kaya, francis and this went to sundance, and that was, you know, really exciting because sort of as indie filmmakers that's sort of like, oh, you've got into sundance and we were in dramatic competition there, which is also off like a big deal on dh then wei won some of their awards at others film festivals. Ashley is beautiful on dh yeah. And then chiyo had been on skins in the uk, which isn't rad show the u k version anyways on dh. But this was her first starring role in an american film, which was great for her because and she went on to start maze runner and now she's in the next pirates of the caribbean juggernaut s oh, she's, you know well, on her way and, you know, I would predict here that she will be nominated for an oscar at some point in her career because that girl, just like you can get a bad take. It was one of those things in the edit room where it was like, you know, usually you have your circle takes, like, ok, they did a good job here, and you kind of know what you're doing with her. It was just, like, just pick anyone because she was just like that. Amazing. I would like to hear a little bit more just since you were involved from start to finish on this really having ownership? What was that feeling like when you realize that caio was sort of that special discovery once you saw the potential there, how did that make you feel, it's, the filmmaker just contesting? Yeah I mean I think you know casting to me is everything I think it's kind of one of the you know that and editing I sort of the unsung heroes of filmmaking and it's like you better cast your puppy right? Or you're just like kind of sunk from the start and you know, take your time and doing that we're going to get into that more sort of in the cast when we talk about you know, casting and and all of that bit of business but I mean it took me uh it took me like almost a year to find emanuel to find kaya and I really met with sort of every girl in that age group in los angeles and couldn't find her and I was really driving my producers and everyone mad because it's like I'm not going to make this movie with the wrong girl and the movies about this girl and she's carrying the whole movie so it's got to be the right person and then you know, I went to london and found the girl with an english accent that never don't increase in americans like she's the one what you know and then we had to get an accent coach and flyer and you know what I mean it was just like not I'm definitely not a producer's dream director by a long shot but you know it was the right girl and you know you just have to sort of, like, stick to your convictions. You know what I mean? And kind of, you know, that's, that's it, you know, that you're going to get one shot at doing this. It's probably taken you, like three years to get to that point. It's, like, don't make any compromises, you know, especially on cast that you can't live with, because otherwise all your effort it's going to be for pretty much not.

Class Description

Independent filmmakers are often called on to not only write and direct, but to produce their projects. Wearing all three “hats” can be a daunting, yet inspiring proposition. In The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker with Francesca Gregorini, you’ll learn easily-applied strategies for balancing the demands of doing all three very unique jobs.

Francesca’s work has been officially selected by the Toronto Film Festival and premiered in the US Dramatic Competition at Sundance. In this class, she’ll discuss both the advantages and challenges of producing a film you’ve written and will direct. 

You’ll learn:

  • How to decide when its ‘right’ to produce your script and when to develop it further
  • Which "hat" to wear at what time from start to finish
  • Personalized paths for fundraising, production, and distribution

Francesca will explore the processes of writing, directing, and producing and how leading the charge can make these three unique perspectives more efficient, productive, and artistic.

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker will help you develop best practices for all aspects of indie film production and inspire you to take control of your own destiny as a filmmaker. 



I think there were TONS of marvelous takeaways, here, in this course. The examples she presented about Scene Cards, the hardships, and the beauties-- all of it was very beneficial information for aspiring filmmakers. However, the verbal hesitance; "um", "you know", "uh", "you know what I mean", "or whatever"-- that started to get really distracting really quickly. But the course and the overall purpose of the lessons, that was great!


The good - Lots of helpful info about pre-production, things to consider, and working with actors. The not-so-good - Not exactly self-sufficient. If you were to cut out all the " know..." clutter, the course would probably be about 30 minutes shorter.