No matter what you've heard, the most important part of directing is keeping your cool.
In his introduction speech prior to the premiere of The Catcher Was a Spy, Sundance Director of Programming John Cooper described the film’s director Ben Lewin as the “nicest director you'll ever meet.” When you’ve got four decades of dealing with the chaos of filmmaking under your belt and can still be described as such, you know you must be doing something right. While Lewin may describe his career as a “career built on accidents,” in reality, it is his attitude and personality that keep people coming with projects again and again.
The greatest lessons Lewin’s learned don’t come from a technical, professional or even filmmaking level. They’re personal lessons. These are the type which help to maintain a working personality, sanity, level-headedness and leadership when the shit around you has hit the fan. His philosophy is to stay positive, especially between projects. Everyone knows it's hard to make a movie, so why gripe about it?
The Catcher Was a Spy is a film that not only Lewin but Hollywood at large, has been trying to bring to the big screen for years. It tells the story of Moe Berg, a queer Jewish major league baseball player, who was hired by the US government during WWII as a spy. His mission: to kill Werner Heisenberg before he could finish creating the Atomic Bomb for the Nazis. While it may sound absurd, the story is one hundred percent true.
The film made its premiere at Sundance where I sat down with Lewin to discuss his career, coping with the post-production blues, and most importantly, how to maintain your sanity when making a living as a director.
Listen to the episode by streaming or downloading from the embedded player above, or find it on iTunes here.
For more, see our ongoing list of coverage of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. No Film School's podcast and editorial coverage of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival is sponsored by RODE Microphones and Blackmagic Design.