Filmmakers learn the craft by doing it. You can model yourself after one director, but that might limit your perspective. When RZA got into directing, he made it his personal goal to be ambitious and find his voice without losing sight of the lessons he could learn from those who came before him.
His new movie, Cut Throat City, is about 4 friends living in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. After Hurricane Katrina, their neighborhood is left in ruins and they’re not getting the help they need from FEMA or the government. With no other options, they strike a deal with a local gangster that requires them to rob a casino.
Collider sat down with RZA to talk to him about the movie, you can watch the interview below.
The most striking thing about the story is how RZA credits Tarantino and Jarmusch with this ability to edit in his mind while filming. I think this speaks highly to how those two assemble their films and shoot them in a way where every frame feels necessary.
Still, when it comes to pure genius, I loved hearing about the respect RZA has for Ridley Scott. He said, “And I’ve got to tell you, one of the greatest brains I ever saw work is Ridley Scott. Ridley Scott has—he should coin this—he has multi-vision, okay? Not a lot of humans have this. He can see multiple things at the same time. And I witnessed him do it. I talked to him about it. He has it at level 10. He gave me a little bit of it. I’ve got it around level 4.”
RZA took these lessons and applied them to his own movie. While talking about one shot in the movie, he spoke a bit about his process on set and how many takes he likes to get, saying, “I have a number in my head. If it gets passed X amount of numbers, I know I’ve gotta move. I have an editor’s mind, so I can know that take one, 4 and 2 have the elements that I need and then I can just [go] in and say, ‘Let me get one pick-up.’”
I can't wait to see how this story plays out and how RZA continues his career with all the culmination of knowledge he's assembled.
What are some directors you think you can learn from?
Let us know in the comments.