25 Tips from Sam Mendes to Help You Become a Better Director
Sam Mendes, director of films like American Beauty and Skyfall, has made it a habit of working with some of the best people in the industry, and has turned out some truly memorable films. He has also heavily invested himself in theater, and continues working in that medium to this day. Mendes was honored at the spring gala for the Roundabout Theatre Company, and at the end of the ceremonies, gave some advice to current and aspiring directors.
Courtesy of Vanity Fair, here are a few interesting "rules" from the full 25:
1. Always choose good collaborators. It seems so obvious, but the best collaborators are the ones who disagree with you. It means they’re passionate, they have opinions, and they’ll only ever say yes if they mean it.
8. Confidence is essential, but ego is not.
13. There is no right and wrong, there is only interesting, and less interesting.
18. When you have a cast of 20, this means you have 20 other imaginations in the room with you. Use them.
22. Learn to accept the blame for everything. If the script was poor, you didn’t work hard enough with the writer. If the actors failed, you failed. If the sets, the lighting, the post, the costumes are wrong, you gave them the thumbs-up. So build up your shoulders, they need to be broad.
I am a big fan of the last one. If you're in charge of something, and that something fails, it's always your fault. At some point along the way choices you made (or didn't make) contributed to the failure of the project, and therefore it's your job to figure out how to do those things differently the next time. It's always easy to point fingers when something doesn't quite come out the way you wanted, but it doesn't really do any good.
To read the rest of his advice, head on over to the Vanity Fair post.