SAGindie returned once again this year as a sponsor of Film Independent’s annual DIRECTORS CLOSE-UP series in Los Angeles. The 2018 DCU took place every Wednesday from February 7 – March 7, where attendees heard filmmaking insight and behind-the-scenes tales from some of the most successful indie filmmakers of the last year.




Week 1 – February 7 – Lady Bird: Adolescence, Angst and Acting

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  • Greta Gerwig (writer/director, Lady Bird)
  • April Napier (costume designer, Lady Bird)
  • Jordan Rodrigues (actor, Lady Bird)
  • Marielle Scott (actor, Lady Bird)
  • Moderated by Jay Duplass (director, Jeff, Who Lives at Home)

“How dare you, Greta Gerwig, on your first shot, come out and make a goddamn masterpiece.” –Duplass
“I always say, none of it happened, but it’s all true. It rhymes with the truth, and that’s how it felt to me.” –Gerwig
“It didn’t feel like we were working, it felt like we were playing.” –Rodrigues
“Movies are just your poor attempt to capture life… You can never fully grasp it, that’s why it’s satisfyingly unsatisfying forever.” –Gerwig


Week 2 – February 14 – Storytellers: Writers and Directors

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  • Mike White (writer, Beatriz at Dinner; writer/director, Brad’s Status)
  • David Branson Smith (writer, Ingrid Goes West)
  • Moderated by Jennifer Cochis (director, LA Film Festival)

“The beauty of being a writer is you don’t need someone to ask you to do it, you just can do it.” –White
“I still feel like every time I get notes it’s a public shaming.” –White
“I set very specific, earnest goals for myself.” –Smith
“If I don’t have stuff written by 10am, the day’s over.” –White


Week 3 – February 21 – A Wrinkle in Time: Creating the Visual Language of a Film

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  • Ava DuVernay (director, A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Spencer Averick (editor, A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Ramin Djawadi (composer, A Wrinkle in Time)
  • John Paul “JP” Jones (prop master, A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Kimberly Kimble (lead hair stylist, A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Richard McBride (visual effects supervisor, A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Tobias Schliessler (director of photography, A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Alison Taylor (location manager, A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Aisha Coley (casting director, A Wrinkle in Time)
  • Moderated by Robin Swicord (writer/director, Wakefield)

“My mind just goes to the story and the experience I wanted the audience to have… This film is for eight-to-twelve-year-olds. That’s the sweet spot.” –DuVernay
“At the end of the day I feel the most fulfilled if I feel the director is seeing what he or she wanted on the screen.” –Schliessler
“Nothing prepares you for when you see [the actors] step out of the trailer with the clothes, the makeup, and the hair. It was awesome.” –Kimble
“We seek inspiration from found clips, imagery, stills, working with concept artists.” –McBride
“[A Wrinkle in Time] felt much bigger than anything we’ve done, but I knew right away that this was [Ava’s] movie… It still had this intimate, personal story that we’ve had since the very beginning from I Will Follow, that we did with two actors in a house for $50,000.” –Averick


Week 4 – February 28 – The Independent Spirit: A Directors Roundtable

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  • Sean Baker (co-writer/director, The Florida Project)
  • Josh & Benny Safdie (writer/directors, Good Time)
  • Chloé Zhao (writer/director, The Rider)
  • Moderated by Josh Welsh (President, Film Independent)
[On working with Robert Pattinson] “There was an intense desire to do anything on his part. He just wanted to disappear.” –Benny Safdie
“It’s like, if I wanted to go back to the days of Prince of Broadway, Take Out, even Tangerine, of six of us wearing so many hats — is it possible? We did it three times. Yeah, it’s possible!… It’s very frustrating, because when you look at somebody’s career like our hero, John Cassavetes, he did it throughout his entire career. He had this team of a small group of people wearing many hats.” –Baker
“I’m very lucky in that way, we have a lot of freedom… I don’t have a producer on set telling me what to do. I get to shoot exactly how I wanted.” –Zhao


Week 5 – March 7 – Real Life vs. Reel Life

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  • Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris (directors, Battle of the Sexes)
  • Craig Gillespie (director, I, Tonya)
  • Angela Robinson (director, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women)
  • Moderated by Larry Karaszewski (writer, The People v. O.J. Simpson) and Kimberly Peirce (director, Boys Don’t Cry)

“It was really interesting as a filmmaker, because at some point I decided the story had been hidden so long for a reason. To me it was very obvious that there was a lot of homophobia surrounding the story.” –Robinson
“I worry in telling the story of a real-life figure that you do damage if you distort the truth too much.” –Dayton
“We didn’t want the movie to feel self-congratulatory… The part of Billie Jean’s story that really interested us was her personal struggle and what she was going through as she was trying to make change.” –Faris
“In the first half of the film it’s very clear who’s telling which part of the story. This was an editorial choice that we made, along the lines of people accepting what they’re told… Then in the second half of the film, we started to strip away whose narrative it is that we’re hearing.” –Gillespie

Film Independent Directors Close-Up is sponsored by SAGindie, Directors Guild of America, Landmark Theatres, and DECENT.


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