Director Joseph Kosinski (Only the Brave) studied at the Columbia Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation before going into commercials and then film. Through the study of architecture, he learned the power of strong leadership—guiding a team and providing a clear vision—in order to achieve a goal, whether that be the creation of a building or a film.

It’s an important reminder that sometimes you have to trust that whatever path you’ve taken in life up to this point has somehow helped prepare you as a filmmaker and that you probably instinctively know more than you give yourself credit for. 

In this video interview, Kosinski discusses his unique background, shares advice on pitching a project, and much more. Check it out and read our key takeaways below.

1. Master the art of the pitch

Just like any other skill, pitching, an often overlooked but vital component of directing, takes practice. Seize any opportunity you can to practice pitching your projects and ideas to an audience. Kosinski was able to hone his pitching skills while directing in the world of commercials, where he learned that you have to truly believe you’re the 100% only person in the world who can tell the particular story you’re pitching. Then, paradoxically, after the pitch is over Kosinski recommends letting go completely and simply looking on to the next pitch or opportunity—a blueprint for not going insane while you struggle to find a new project.

2. Capture special moments

Kosinski, who has worked with acclaimed actors like Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, and Tom Cruise on both Oblivion and the upcoming film Top Gun: Maverick, explains that it’s important to create a collaborative environment with the actors so they feel free to be able to try things and take risks on the shoot day. The spontaneous in-the-moment takes that arise are often the special moments from films that people remember long after leaving the theater. For example, Tom Cruise has described that the scene in Rain Man in which he and Dustin Hoffman gently touch heads as loving brothers occurred spontaneously in-the-moment and was not scripted.

3. Be over-prepared

It may sound self-explanatory, but the more you prepare before each shoot day, the more it frees you up to relax and seize spontaneous opportunities that arise with the confidence that you can take risks and try things because you have ample preparation to fall back on if necessary. 

*The interview was shot at Technicolor Los Angeles where Kosinksi completed the SDR and HDR color grades on 'Only the Brave'.*