If you we were to list all the reasons why you should listen to Lenore DeKoven’s advice about becoming a better director, it would take a long, long time. So we’ll just list a few: Lenore has worked as a director and producer in theater, film, and television. She has taught at UCLA, NYU, and Columbia, and has been a member of Columbia University’s Graduate Film division for more than 20 years. And on top of all that, she wrote a book, Changing Direction, that has been recommended by everyone from Ang Lee to our good friend Salomon Ligthelm.
If you’ve thought there must be some secret to breaking into the high-end commercial film world, then the conversation we had with Über Content Founder Preston Lee is going to be a little bit disappointing. Because, as Preston told us — and as you’ve probably suspected deep down in your heart of hearts — the only real “secret” to breaking in is doing amazing work.
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.
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?