Director Rob Letterman’s latest film, Detective Pikachu, is now in theaters. The film marks the first ever live-action Pokémon film and features Ryan Reynolds as the wise-cracking voice of adorable sleuth Pikachu, who joins forces with Tim (Justice Smith), the only human he can communicate with, in an effort to unravel the mystery of why Tim’s father went mysteriously missing.

Letterman’s long journey to Detective Pikachu saw film school mishaps and odd jobs, with screenwriting playing a pivotal role in his directing career. These formative experiences taught Letterman much about the craft of filmmaking.

In Deluxe’s “First Feature” video, launching exclusively through No Film School Letterman shares candid tips for emerging filmmakers to help aid them on their own journeys

Any industry job is an opportunity to learn.

Letterman did everything from VFX to amusement park rides, soaking up knowledge along the way. Those experiences led to his first short film and informed his later feature directorial work, which incorporated heavy VFX. You never know when an experience from your past will inform a decision in-the-moment on set. 


It goes without saying but it all starts with a screenplay. Generating your own material can be your ticket to developing your voice and producing content instead of waiting for someone else to give you a screenplay to produce. For Letterman, writing and directing are intimately linked. 

Finish what you start.

Countless screenplays, shorts, and features have died in the first draft stage, in production, or in post. You have to get it done and put it out there to truly learn and gain the confidence that you have the ability to see something through to the end, which will serve you on your next creative endeavor. Get it done, no matter what.   


This video was shot at Deluxe’s Stage One where Rob Letterman worked with colorist Skip Kimball on the color finishing for Detective Pikachu.