6 of Today's Top Directors Talk Around A Table for Your Viewing Pleasure

THR Director Roundtable 2016
The Hollywood Reporter's annual roundtables are in full effect.

An eclectic crew of mostly white guys talk about movies in this year's Director Roundtable, including Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs), Tom Hooper (The Danish Girl), Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant), David O. Russell (Joy), Ridley Scott (The Martian) and Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight).

Despite the fact that it seems we see a lot of the same faces each year in these things, it's still inherently fascinating watching these directors shoot the shit. They cover the state of cinema, career challenges, working with actors and their favorite movie-making movies. If nothing else, it's worth watching for Ridley Scott's story about getting 17 hours of helicopter footage from Stanley Kubrick for the end of Blade Runner.

The State of Cinema

The tone of these directors' outlook on the state of cinema is something we've heard before: the middle class is gone and there's way too many films. Tarantino brings up an interesting point as well: movies used to be a medium for the "working class," but with ticket prices steadily rising it's priced out a lot of people from going to the theaters. Not only that, but the films that are being released aren't giving people enough of a reason to leave their homes.


Ridley Scott admits that there were no challenges in making The Martian. From his experience directing 2,000 commercials, making feature films was "pretty straightforward." Ridley became adept at seeing problems and dealing with them before they happen. "Watch the problem coming over the horizon and knock its head off before it gets near you."

Working With Actors

Great directors are nothing without the actors who bring their characters to life, and these guys had a lot to say about their physical counterparts. Tarantino learned early on from Harvey Keitel to not give direction to actors in the first reading of a part. Recalling a conversation he had with Keitel during Reservoir Dogs: "An adjustment is the easiest thing in the world to give, but let them give it their first shot." Tarantino stuck with this rule for over 20 years afterwards.

Innaritu and Hooper explain what it means to work with a veteran actor who are able to zoom out and see the entire film — not their own part within it. "You can tell an actor what you want, but the tempo that has, the pace..." Innaritu says. "Even if you block 100 times, there is an internal rhythm to actors. Leo has an internal rhythm like a machine, and I was very impressed by that." Hooper adds "If you're open to it, the really great actors have a director's mind as well as an actor's mind."

Regrets / No Going Backwards

Directors can be very romantic at heart, their films being documents of their innermost dreams. This can get in the way of the pragmatic needs of a set, Innaritu has learned:

Sometimes I would have loved to make decisions earlier than later. I have learned that when something is not working on set, it will get worse. Sometimes I delay those decisions because I want to be hopeful, or I want to give it a chance, or I'm hiding myself attending other priorities. Sometimes I'm a little bit romantic and that can backfire.

Tarantino and Innaritu also express something I found important: once you've established the rules and language of your film there's no going backwards. "When you are rock climbing, you go up or you die," Innaritu says.     

Your Comment


Iñárritu isn't an eclectic white guy. he's an eclectic brown guy.

January 6, 2016 at 1:23PM

ab h

What's with that headline... "eclectic crew of white guys?" Since when is Alejandro González Iñárritu white?

January 6, 2016 at 5:44PM

Andrew McGivern
Writer / Director

Haha, he's not. I'm adding the word "mostly." Just trying to highlight the fact that it's usually the same guys around this table.

January 6, 2016 at 7:43PM

Micah Van Hove

Do you guys not understand how politics work in this country?

Alejandro González Iñárritu is Mexican, but quite obviously he appears White-Hispanic and as most White Americans (and Europeans) behave, the lighter you are and the more Eurocentric you appear, the "better" you are. We don't need to delve into the obvious piles of proof on that in this here. And, as you can see, he isn't exactly suffering from any White privilege losses either.

Seriously, claiming a pale-skin Latino as a form of "diversity" subtly is such a whitewashed and lazy way to look at what people of Color are trying to express today.

Seriously, that was some uppity White boys club bulls**t there just now.

January 7, 2016 at 8:21PM, Edited January 7, 8:26PM


Like, seriously- you guys couldn't JUST let us enjoy the video without that, eh? lol

January 7, 2016 at 8:22PM, Edited January 7, 8:26PM


Six great contemporary directors chatting about the industry and 3 of the 4 comments here are questioning semantics.

January 7, 2016 at 6:49AM

Richard Krall

Seems to be the majority of comment on everything these days. This was a great video, featuring a few innerspring highlights and was very telling of each of the director's current state of mind. Interesting seeing Scott, very sure of himself, very straight forward, hinting as though he has nothing left to learn - it really shows why his recent films are rather soulless. The adventure of creation seems lost to him.

January 7, 2016 at 1:02PM

Daniel Falcon
Director, VFX artist

Whoa never knew Ridley worked in commercials, he never ever mentions it...

January 7, 2016 at 8:20AM

Greg Andrew

Not even ONE female in the herd? Really?

January 7, 2016 at 10:09AM

Kippur Kippur
Producer/ Aspiring DP and Director

Next Id like to see: M. Scorsese, J. Cameron, G. Lucas, S. Spielberg, D.Fincher, Guy Ritchie talk and discussions about their vision, projects and experience. Just a wish tho...

January 7, 2016 at 10:31AM, Edited January 7, 10:34AM

Daniyar Seisenov
Filmmaker / Editor / Writer

Would have been nice if there wasn't any time limit; it kept feeling like there were so many stories that just got cut short. :( Other than that, great fun to listen to, not to mention inspiring!

January 7, 2016 at 12:37PM, Edited January 7, 12:38PM

Stephanie Spicer

Wow. Big time mixed feelings on this ... all of them, except Iñárritu really, came off super lame. There were morsels of good insight, but most of it was massive egocentric fodder. What do you all think? I found it less inspirational and more shameful as in "If I call myself a director, do I have to be so egocentric?" I mean, great Scott... couldn't be more of a me-body. It be interesting to go through and see how many times they all said "you're absolutely right, because what happened to me was..."

And yeah, its a disgrace the state of female directors... look at this Metacritic top 25 ... http://www.metacritic.com/feature/best-women-film-directors-and-movies

Frankly Soderbergh, Scorsese, Juenet, Coppola, Baumbach, Von Trier would be my ideal round-table, and hopefully be a little bit more inspiring.

January 7, 2016 at 1:13PM

Roberto Serrini
Director • Editor

I like this guy.

January 7, 2016 at 8:27PM