Anyone who edits interviews knows how much gets cut. Most of our Musicbed interviews start at around 10,000 words and end up around 2,000. We throw a lot away — usually just because a question or an answer doesn’t fit with the overarching theme.
When things are going well, film ideas lead one to the next. You’re working on one project, and something sparks an idea for another. A perpetual motion machine. But sometimes that machine breaks down, and you’re left trying to pedal your bicycle uphill. Every once in a while, we all need a little boost.
There is so much good advice out there, but almost none of it sticks. For every thousand pieces of advice you get, you might remember one or two. But what does stick is significant. You can learn a lot about someone from the advice they’ve retained. And you can learn a lot from them too. For the past few months, we’ve been asking filmmakers what advice has stuck with them. Their answers were as varied as their work. But we noticed something: When advice does stick with someone, it becomes not just advice they remember, but advice they give. It becomes their advice. In other words, the best good advice becomes part of who you are. Maybe something below will do the same for you.
There’s no secret formula for getting great performances from your actors. Just kidding — yes there is! And Adrienne Weiss knows all the ingredients. After beginning her career directing plays at Yale, Adrienne has gone on to write and direct feature films (her first feature premiered at Sundance); coach directors on feature films and for shows like Girls, 30 Rock, and American Horror Story; and teach courses at NYU and Columbia on how to direct actors. She is also the founder of DirectingActors.com, teaching private workshops that give directors the tools they need to get great performances from their actors. So, yeah, she knows what she’s talking about.
In his TED talk on the value of creative sabbaticals, graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister describes a project he orchestrated in which hundreds of volunteers wrote, in coins, “Obsessions make my life worse and my work better.” It’s a distillation of a pervasive idea: that life and creativity are a zero-sum game. Devotion to one destroys the other. But there also comes a point when obsession with art begins to destroy the art itself. It manifests as stagnation. Or worse ⎯ burnout. Which is the whole point of Sagmeister’s talk: Sometimes you need to step away.
There’s no easy way to make a film. The process is incredibly long and complex with a thousand unmarked pitfalls along the way. Sometimes you learn by falling into them. Sometimes you learn by having someone else point them out to you. Which is why we called our friend Adrienne Weiss, an accomplished filmmaker and coach who’s spent the past decade teaching up-and-coming directors at NYU and Columbia. What advice did she have for directors, we wondered. What did she wish someone had told her?
We’ve talked to some incredible women on our blog: directors, DPs, acting coaches, animators, Oscar Nominees, creative directors, artists. They’ve shared illuminating, perspective-shattering advice that any filmmaker can take to heart. Today we’re celebrating some of the wise women we’ve talked to on our blog by pulling some of our favorite moments from their interviews. Reader beware: the topics are all over the place — from storytelling to panic attacks — but we think that speaks to the overwhelming amount of great advice we’ve received over the years. Enjoy.