Fuqua, Gyllenhaal, and Melfi on 'The Guilty' and 'The Starling'

Antoine Fuqua and Jake Gyllenhaal discuss the surprising results of filming in COVID confined spaces, and Theodore Melfi shares his experience of writing and going for the "yes"... 

It's not common that we have both star and director on the podcast at the same time, so hearing Fuqua and Gyllenhaal talk about working together on their new film was a unique and telling experience. What really stood out? 

There are things even the biggest names won't necessarily say about themselves and their process, ways they won't toot their own horns. As an interviewer, I often try to highlight the interesting facts they mention in passing about themselves or their work. In this case, we had an actor at the level of Gyllenhaal revealing aspects of Fuqua's approach and vice versa that the other might not be as forthcoming with. 

The conditions of The Guilty are unique production-wise for multiple reasons. For those of us looking to do more with less, there are some clear lessons from these creators. How do you make a story compelling in a tight space? How do you direct from afar? How do you act when you can literally hear an echo of your own voice? 

As for Theodore Melfi, the approach he has to each project is personal and full of renewal. It's really nice to talk to a filmmaker who is not results-based, but rather process-based. This is a famously "what have you done for me lately" business, but Ted's mindset is to "stay within himself," and you'll learn a lot by listening to how. 

In this episode, we talk about...

  • The challenge of creating a film with limited space and characters
  • How shifting the story to Los Angeles changed Fuqua’s approach to the film 
  • How the pandemic impacted production, and why directors and actors must always have complete trust with each other
  • Why you have to trust in the magic of filming
  • How Melfi went from working at an Italian cafe to making feature films
  • The difference between lying vs. saying yes 
  • Remembering how simple filmmaking can be—six simple shots!
  • How Melfi learned to direct and communicate with actors by studying them in acting classes
  • Advice for raising money to fund a film and how filmmaking is more accessible  
  • Melfi’s journey as a writer and why he believes directors and filmmakers need the skill to write 
  • Screenplay books, guidelines, and how Melfi operates when writing a film   

Links to Resources:

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This episode of The No Film School Podcast was produced by George Edelman.

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2 Comments

awesome

October 13, 2021 at 8:06PM

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A common theme expressed here is that great direction comes from a strong understanding of and empathy for actors. I wonder if the same is true in reverse.

October 15, 2021 at 9:36AM

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Nicholas Buggs
Co-Founder of Bonsai Creative/Co-Host of the MAKE IT Podcast
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