–says John August as he moderates part 3 of the FIND Directors Series, a series of discussions between filmmakers, sound editors, actors, producers and more, hosted by Film Independent. I attended two of these events over the last few weeks. Each session had a focus; the first one’s topic was “working with actors” and the second focused on “sound in filmmaking.”
Panel One had crew members from The Blind Side, including Director John Lee Hancock and actress Kim Dickens, along with 2004’s the Alamo actor Jason Patric. What I remember most about that panel is Hancock’s admission that any good director isn’t afraid to say he doesn’t know the answer to a problem. He, Dickens and Hancock discussed problem days when certain scenes just wouldn’t work and how they problem-solved their issues. He suggested time, if you have it, to stop and go back to a particular scene. He also suggested opening a dialogue with the actor instead of trying to diagnose an issue and pick out problems when you don’t really know why something isn’t working. Basically, he believes that honesty can be the best policy when trying to get the right performances from actors.
The second panel I went to had Jeffrey Friedman, one of the two directors of HOWL, a Sundance 2010 film festival opener, and Lora Hirschberg from Skywalker Sound who was the sound editor for the film. Focusing on sound was refreshing since it seems to be one of the lesser discussed topics in filmmaking. One point that I wholeheartedly agreed with was stated by Hirschberg. She said that you should always try to get the cleanest takes while you’re on set. If sound tells you they need one more, you should get one more. The extra five minutes will pay off in the end when you aren’t stuck in a black box with your actors trying to record ADR and recapture that amazing moment that you saw materialize on set, five months later.
But my favorite quote was spoken by moderator John August, whose screenwriting credits include Go and Big Fish. It is also the title of this blog. He reminded me that making a film is a huge feat, but also, that having multiple project ideas in different genres is a good thing. Keep your options open and don’t be afraid to try a genre that you normally wouldn’t. The point is simple: get your work out there and get something made.
You can watch the videos by clicking here or by visiting Film Independent’s website.