Want to learn about directing in the big leagues? Spend three hours with these masters and take a lot of notes!
While there were noticeable snubs at the Oscars, Globes, and DGA this year, one of the best things they do to round up the season is sit down their noms and have a long conversation with them.
This year, the pack was led by legends. Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film Award nominees Bong Joon Ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in... Hollywood), and Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit) joined moderator Jeremy Kagan for a discussion about their work.
That talk lasted for almost three hours. Scorsese had to video chat in from New York City, the rest were there in person as they discussed a plethora of topics.
Check it out below! And stick around for some lessons we picked out that we want to highlight.
5 Things We Learned Spending 3 Hours with Tarantino, Scorsese, Joon-ho, Waititi, and Mendes
1. Respect the monitor but don't become dependent on it
One of the things I love about these sitdowns is how practical they get. The men on this stage (wish we had Greta too) all had different kinds of movies. Some needed a video village to keep up with action, like Sam Mendes. Due to the complex shooting, he had to navigate between set and the monitors to make sure what they got could go into the movie, since there was no way to cutaway.
People like Tarantino use handheld monitors when needed, but prefers to be with the actors.
In Korea, Bong said they are cutting the movie on set, so he can see rough edits while the shooting happens.
All of them agreed that you don't want to be over-dependent on the monitor. Try to spend time with the actors, even if you're dressed like Hitler.
2. Endings are the most important part
While some of these directors write the scripts they shoot, all of them said that endings were the hardest part for them. And it wasn't just writing it, it was deciding on the shots to use.
Scorsese talks about trying his final shot for the Irishman man dozens of ways.
For Tarantino, the last shots of Once Upon a Time haunted him. He was positive he had to get certain shots...but the way the schedule worked out...he didn't have to wait. He shot the ending early and spent the rest of the time shooting other scenes.
For Mendes, he knew what the ending of 1917 meant. How going full circle with a tree would link the technical mastery as well as the emotional.
3. Anxiety and worry won't get you anywhere
When you're on big projects, it's easy to get anxious or scared. It's hard to fathom the humungous budgets and the idea of making the day on something 100+ million. Still, all of these guys agreed that scheduling smart relieves a lot of tension.
And so do naps.
But if you start your days with manageable camera angles and shots, you can build confidence as you go.
4. How to talk to actors
Communication is key. You don't want to over direct anyone, but you also want to ask for specifics. All of the directors talked about run-throughs, just to make sure everyone is on the same page. But they believe in tables reads too. The first one for The Irishman happened years before they even shot.
Tarantino obviously had specifics for each of the characters. Roles he wanted them to play and research he handed them to study.
Director Bong felt out every scenario and relied on actors he trusted.
Finally, Mendes wanted real to life reactions, so it was more setting a tone and getting reactions.
All of them stressed prep and open discussions.
5. Be okay with changes
Lastly, I want to speak on how much these guys were amenable to changes. Not just to the script, but to blocking, dialogue, and natural things actors went for.
Tarantino loved Leo's freakout on set, an improv moment in the trailer when he character has a tantrum. Scorsese talks about wanting to cut a line, and how that line then stumped him. What would someone say after they returned from an assassination?
Eventually, it was Pesci who helped him find the action and ideas in the moment, which centered on borrowing someone's glasses.
Now, that famous scene of a soldier running into someone while he crosses the battlefield was a happy accident on set that Mendes kept because of the pure chaos it injected into the scene.
And Taiki talked about how much he wanted improv on his sets, that he wanted everyone to feel comfortable to do their own thing, within the story
In the end, all of these guys spoke for a long time on what made their work outstanding this year. Prep, rolling with the punches, snd trusting your gut goes a long way.
So get out there and get shooting.
What's next? Read the 2020 Academy Award Screenplays!
The most special time of the year is upon us. The awards contenders have begun their push for the golden statues, and that means we get to reap the benefits of them posting their screenplays for us to download and examine.
Read more here!