Takeaways from This Year's THR Directors Roundtable Discussion
If there was ever a wall on which to be a fly -- every year The Hollywood Reporter brings together some of the biggest directors for their Directors Roundtable. This year, Steve McQueen, Paul Greengrass, David O. Russell, Ben Stiller, Alfonso Cuarón, and Lee Daniels sit down for a discussion with Matt Belloni and Stephen Galloway, discussing everything from their latest films to how they deal with challenging situations they face on-set. There are many useful nuggets of wisdom scattered throughout the nearly hour-long video, so continue on to take a look.
Seeing as this group of directors have made some of the most talked-about films of the year (12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, American Hustle, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Gravity, and Lee Daniels' The Butler) spending an hour listening to them discuss their craft is truly a treat. Belloni and Galloway ask a range of questions -- some that are challenging and bring about a healthy debate, particularly how they deal with conflict on-set.
There are so many takeaways from this roundtable discussion, but I'll just pick a few to highlight:
Filmmaking is like jazz
As filmmakers, we have to expect, like in other areas in our lives, that we're going to go through different seasons in which we grow and change. Our cinematic and narrative sensibilities will inevitably evolve, however it's important to determine just what those sensibilities are.
Russell explains how his last three films all have a similar feel to them -- a similar story with similar characters that are the products of a "music" that he listens to -- his sensibilities. McQueen elaborates by saying that though there is a structure to filmmaking as well as your own personal style, like jazz you're able to exercise your individuality by experimenting and improvising.
Don't overthink it
Russell touches on something so incredibly important to keep in mind as a filmmaker. He explains how his film I Heart Huckabees didn't turn out the way he wanted it to, because he overthought it rather than relying on his instincts. If you're wondering where in the world your cinematic instincts are, they might be hiding somewhere near your creative voice, according to Russell.
Arrogance can be good -- to a point
When Cuarón was in film school, he admits he and his buddies were arrogant while on-set -- something that he has since grown out of. However, Stiller makes an interesting observation about arrogance, something that is almost unanimously seen as a negative (and irritating) trait.
Most of us began our film careers in our 20s, which is usually a time before we've become cynical and our futures are as bright as the stars in our eyes. We think we can do anything -- and do it better than anyone else. We're arrogant. But Stiller says that that arrogance gives you the courage to go out and "do your thing." We just have to make sure we eventually find a better place from which to pull our courage!
What do you think? What did you learn from the directors' discussion? Share your thoughts in the comments below.