Andy Muschietti is living the dream, directing Stephen King adaptations and scaring audiences. So what are his tips for you?
The horror genre is not only about scares; it's about humanity. So what does one of the best horror directors in the game, Andy Muschietti, have to say about directing in general? The sequel to It jusr hit theaters, so we thought it was a good time to steep ourselves in some directing tips from the guy who brought Pennywise back to life for a brand new generation.
Check out this video from The Director's Cut and let's chat after the jump!
4 Filmmaking Tips from It Director Andy Muschietti
Directing is one of the hardest jobs out there. You have to be the mayor of your set. Know the names, the daily goals, and still find time to plan and extract the best performances from anyone and everyone.
So how does Andy Muschietti do it?
1. Scary movies are about...what scares you.
Any project you take on needs to be personal to you. Sure, an adaptation of Stephen King seems like a no-brainer, but how can you take King's words and make them personal to you, your struggle, and the universality of a scary clown?
For Muschietti, the personal draw to making horror is discussing the themes and life lessons that intrigue him at the moment.
From there, he digs into what he fears the most. What personally scares him about the project.
This way, no matter the topic, he's able to viscerally produce and direct things that feel personal, no matter the size, budget, or scare.
2. Combine genres and elements to create a compelling drama.
Most horror movies are just viewed as one genre but Muschietti thinks that's unfair. For him, It's coming of age elements helped inform the scares. He was able to personally identify with a kid coming into their own and then bring in a clown that eats them to amp up the horrific elements of puberty.
What genre is your project?
Is there another genre that can be seamlessly integrated?
Tropes you can exploit?
If you get stuck, considering switching genres halfway through like Alien does to keep things fresh.
3. Allow room for improvisation, especially with kids.
They say the hardest things for directors to work with are kids and animals. Well, on It, Muschetti had kids and clowns. Probably a close second. It can be challenging to make days with kids who have to be done working at a certain time. They're not pros yet, so they may fumble lines or miss marks.
Muschietti got incredible performances out of the kids on It because he allowed them room to improv, to say lines in a way they wanted, react with the emotions that felt right, and work their own ways through scenes. To do this, you need to plan and prep a ton. Rehearse and shoot walkthroughs.
In the end, it's all about having patience and trust in your cast.
4. Direct toward a theme.
We're talked a ton about theme in film and televisions, but how can you direct with it?
For Muschietti, the theme of It was "togetherness."
That meant hyper-focusing each scene to be about that idea and making sure character motivations were truly about what they wanted in terms of togetherness. The movie is about the friendships you chase, the ones that stick, and how hard it is to lose someone from your group.
What's the theme of your project?
Can you scale the scenes or shoot the cinematography in a way that emphasizes this stuff in the story?
Don't be afraid to improv on set and motivate your actors by telling them the place and theme you want them to inhabit while acting.
What's next? 4 Things Alfonso Cuarón Can Teach You about Directing!
Alfonso Cuarón guided us into the future in Children of Men, and now, he wants to guide us into our own future...a future in making films.
Click to learn!