'3 Days to Kill' Director McG Shares 6 Golden Rules of Filmmaking

Terminator SalvationDirector McG (3 Days to Kill) has lent his filmmaking talents to virtually ever major area in entertainment media. He has helmed high grossing films like Charlie's Angels, produced wildly popular TV shows like Chuck, and made music videos for some of the biggest names in music. If you're asking yourself how he does it, this article from MovieMaker Magazine might help to explain. Pulling from his nearly 20 years of filmmaking experience, McG has shared six "golden rules of moviemaking". Check them out after the jump.

McG might not be the name you think of when it comes to independent filmmaking, but his advice can help anyone in need of some direction regardless of the size of their production. Here are a few of his golden rules from MovieMaker Magazine.

Casting is a big part of directing

Your work as a director begins way before you yell action -- surely that's something no-budget filmmakers know all too well. You're probably spending a great deal of time hashing out the story, making shot lists, and storyboarding, but make sure that you don't remove yourself from the casting process. McG says:

Make sure the actors know what they are signing up for. At the end of the day, they are the ones in front of the camera. Altman was right: 90 percent of directing is casting. Actors are the living, breathing expression of what you’re trying to achieve. Make sure you are in lock step.

Making movies is really, really, really hard

Putting a film together seems impossible at times -- probably because in those times it is. Barriers pop up out of nowhere -- your lead actor bailed, the generators don't work, the worst flu virus you've ever seen strikes your production. Murphy's Law! But, according to McG, you can pull through it:

Be ready to endure immeasurable difficulty. I would suggest watching Hearts of Darkness on the eve before principal photography. If Coppola can withstand firing #1 on the call sheet, losing helicopters to fight the rebels, typhoons and Martin Sheen having a heart attack, you should be able to deal with whatever shit will come at you.

McG bts

A good idea is a good idea

Being a director is like laying down train tracks -- while being chained to the front a speeding train. Why would anyone sign up for this? Because you have a vision! However, don't forget that other people can help unfurl, add to, or serve that vision with their own ideas. A good rule of thumb: your ego should never be larger than the project.

Always acknowledge the best idea. Great ideas come from night watchmen, grips and Teamsters. It should be presumed that your vision of the film is strong; it will only contribute to your command of the material if you are able to incorporate new and superior ideas. A film is a living, breathing thing. You need to go in prepared, listen to the rhythm of the process, make any adjustments necessary, fight like hell to get them done (because everyone is going to regard change as a pain in their ass) and continue to drive toward the singular vision of the film.

For the full list of McG's golden rules, check out MovieMaker's article.

What do you think of McG's advice? How have these tips helped you in your filmmaking career? Let us know in the comments below.

Link: McG’s Six Golden Rules of Moviemaking -- MovieMaker Magazine

[via Filmmaker IQ]

You Might Also Like

Your Comment


Definitely collaboration is key. But sometimes "good ideas" can steer you off from your controlling idea. A director has to being incredibly decisive even at the risk of seeming disagreeable at times. But if what they say is in line with the script go for it. Edit it out later.

February 15, 2014 at 2:14PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


I'd also add "go for it" if you don't mind sharing the director seat and making films by committee.

February 15, 2014 at 2:17PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


I love this guy. All his work intrigues me and I love how he views things. These tips are so helpful to me. To get to work with THEE McG would be a dream.

February 15, 2014 at 2:42PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


You win.

February 15, 2014 at 4:01PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


This information was very useful thank you McG

February 15, 2014 at 11:18PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

La Tretha

Yeah, thanks McG

February 16, 2014 at 6:43AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

Fresno Bob

McG is a great visual director and I'm a fan of the Charlie's Angels movies, but '3 Days to Kill'? Damn that looks like a bunch of dated clichés.

February 16, 2014 at 2:34PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

Stu Mannion

Oh McG, impart your vast wisdom unto us!

February 17, 2014 at 8:16AM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM


McG... the McDonald's of directors. Everything he touches turns to ammonia drenched filler meat sludge.

My God, what he did to Terminator Salvation (though, yes, it did have a dreadful script and lazy actors)! The horror... the horror.

February 20, 2014 at 10:41PM, Edited September 4, 8:45AM

Dan H

One of the worst Directors ever. 3 days to kill was atrocious.

May 17, 2014 at 8:27AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM