View Full Version : you better love filmmaking

10-23-2004, 09:59 PM
ok, so after 4 months of shooting (my first feature) my lead actress called me and said: i am leaving the project....

ok, my fault i did not make her signed agreement up front and now i got it

painful kind of because there is only 10 % left to shoot

anyway it was a good school for me

now i am wiser and more experienced

but the most important thing: i am going to make this movie!

In the spring ;D

So, if you want to make your first feature make sure you pick right guys to work with you and anytime your intution tell you something is wrong - solve the problem as it appears - when she started acting strange (forced me to sign a paper that she will get assistant director credit, next cancelled few shoootings cos etc) I thouhgt that the most iportant is to finish the movie and I was wrong. Every day things were worse and I lost my energy for the project.

When she called she is leaving the project I kind of felt relief. It is painfull but on the other hand I feel I can recast and make MY movie now.

Ok, I got to share it with you guys cos I have learned a lot here.

Let's make a movie!

10-23-2004, 10:20 PM
Wow, that's shitty, but hopefully it will work out best for YOUR movie. I've learned from your mistake! Thanks Voy!

J.R. Hudson
10-23-2004, 10:35 PM
Thats harsh. Fucking actresses.

10-23-2004, 10:59 PM
If anyone's into watching Rick Schmidt pictures, there's a moment in... um, I forget which one it was. 1988 The Remake I think? Or Emerald Cities? Where the lead actress quit before the end scene. Schmidt was hosed. So they improvised this "breakup scene, and they shot it such that the breakup took place with the guy in the car and the gal standing outside, and they shot it from the driver's side so all you could see was that there was someone standing in the dress.

Where it got brilliant was when they pulled the camera back and you saw that it was Schmidt himself in the dress, and he started saying "no, this'll never work, the actress quit and we thought we could get through it like this but nobody'll buy it..." It was easily the best moment in the picture.

10-23-2004, 11:04 PM
HAH!!! :D

J.R. Hudson
10-24-2004, 12:31 PM
You mean Schmidt was in the final cut saying this? Awesome.

Jim Brennan
10-24-2004, 01:34 PM
Well, you aptly named this topic. Only the strong survive. I feel like congratulating you somehow.

David Jimerson
10-24-2004, 02:33 PM
Emergency enhances creativity. It's a beautiful thing at times . . .

10-24-2004, 02:50 PM
You mean Schmidt was in the final cut saying this? *Awesome.
Oh yes. And it was quite startling, because he had this big full beard and everything -- looks like a hippie version of George Lucas. So yeah, that take made the final cut.

10-24-2004, 05:12 PM
I'm finding that movie just to see that!

Rich Lee
10-24-2004, 07:31 PM
oh man, that sucks ...good luck with getting it back up and running..

on the extra material for the fight club dvd. in some of the making of stuff there is a little video doc following him around. in one part fincher is reviewing 3d animatic of a scene they will shoot...fincher turns to the camera and says..."now if we can only get rid of the fucking actors!"...

i love that quote!

Jim Brennan
10-24-2004, 09:04 PM
It's true that they can really complicate the mix. *And there's nothing worse thatn a pain in the ass actor on a set. *As a screenwriter, I often cringe when an actor comes to me with "ideas" about their character, or the dialogue; often after having the script for only a day or two. *But I must admit that actors are the final author of a character. *I've learned to create the best possible dynamic and dialogue I can with them. *Part of the reason is purely pragmatic; it's easier to get what you want when the actor thinks you're on their side. *But the other part of the reason is that good actors have truly brought life to what I've written; often in ways I had not imagined. *I've even been impressed enough with an interpretation to modify a script or expand a part. *

But there are other times I want to hit them in the head with a shovel.

10-25-2004, 05:11 AM
I guess I'm the only one here who sympathizes a tiny bit with the actress?

Acting is terribly hard work when you’re actually doing it. Thinking about it and talking about it is remarkably easy, which is why the vast majority of people on the technical side never bother to get anything beyond a cursory education in the dramatic arts.

Working on any project for four months without payment or agreement for compensation is pretty unusual, and the vast majority of professional actors wouldn’t ever do it. It stinks that a project can be screwed when one person walks off, so I certainly sympathize with the exacerbation one feels when left holding the ropes...but I also know that you must have a good sense of how long you’ll be able to hold anyone’s interest in the pursuit of your own personal endeavors.

Making a film is a very selfish thing, and requiring people to stay involved with your project for four plus months requires some pretty selfless people.

That being said, I’m routinely shocked at how negatively “filmmakers” approach actors and acting. I understand that these comments are said mostly in jest, but I also can’t see how you can be a good filmmaker and not have a deep personal love of the acting craft.

If we really hated actors this much, we’d all be animators.


10-25-2004, 07:13 AM
My post is not about hating actors. ;)
It is about sharing experiences so we can learn from each other. ;D

My experience is: whenever you "feel" that something is not the way you want on the set - fix it, talk it over, solve IT NOW. Dont wait, dont think:"oh, lets finish the movie" etc...

Fixt it, breath in and come back to shooting. I ve learned that I must trust myslef. I must trust my intuition about people I work with.
If I could go back to the past - when my actress forced me to sign an agreement where she asks for Ass Dir credit ("cos I work with extras and you dont give me much directions") - just before the biggest shot (15 people on the set in the rented Night Club) - I would not sign it with fear in my eyes thinking: " shit i dont like the way she is talking to me but fcuk my ego, let make this movie, i dont have to feel great all the time etc etc. I would say: " guys, 15 minutes break" and then talk to my actress about how I feel about the situation where someone comes to me and says: "you sing it NOW!" when I have millions of thing to take care of....
I would fire her. I didnt cos I didnt trust my intution which told me so. I followed my thinking mind which told me to: finish the project. Yeah...this was my lesson which I want to share with guys over here just like they were sharing a lot with me....

I love actors. My lead who left the project is very good actress. She will make it.
But good actress sometimes is not enough.

I imagine if she was working with Spielberg she would not leave. Not only because she would be probably paid.

The thing is that she is not Uma Thurman yet too.

Anyway, before you will say:"you got the part". sign release forms with your actors and rehearse a lot with them so you are sure HOW they work, and WHAT they can and cant deliver.

And if possible shoot the feature in a 8/10 days straight. You dont want to experience how the energy of the process is slowing down. And the winter is coming ;D

Then shooting feature will go much smoother than if you wouldnt do it.

Lets make the movie!

10-25-2004, 07:27 AM
I didn't mean to imply that your post said anything negative about actors. I've just noticed a quick turn towards negativity in the responses to these kinds of posts. I think there's a general lack of understanding of the craft of acting, and that leads to some slightly negative opinions of actors among technical and creative film personnel.

We make jokes about actors and how flakey they are and how it isn't really that hard to do what they do, but what most people don't understand is that actors know we assign them that reputation, and they usually resent it very deeply. Underneath all the jokes, there seems to be a firm belief that actors are antagonists on set, stumbling blocks to the director's creative tasks, and I know that will certainly affect any working relationship you have with an actor.

I was just surprised that the majority of responses to this topic immediately jumped to the flakey actor conclusion without taking into account the hardships of a 4 month production. ESPECIALLY if you're shooting in NYC where there are about as many creative and professional distractions as there are people!

Trust me, I feel your pain about being left cold by an integral member of your production. Many of us have had it happen and it always kicks you when you're down. Indeed you must love the whole process of filmmaking to really punish yourself with its pursuit.

11-01-2004, 01:17 PM
It is not the actors or actress who make filmmaking kind of challenging ;D

It is just some people who happen to call themselves actors. Those young "i know it better" kind of Einstaines.


11-03-2004, 04:39 PM
Omg !
That sucks.

I am gonna pray that you strike it BIG Voytec, and then she can taste the bitter fruit of knowing that she screwed over someone who made it.


11-05-2004, 08:31 AM
I'm rolling with Barnes on this one, it was a little jolting to see all the negativity fired up due to this post. Outside of a four month shoot, which is a lot to ask from an actor, I'd go as far to say that the lack of a contract upfront might be indicative of the whole production?

I mean I don't understand how someone has a four month project on their hands and is not responsible enough to cover the basics like a talent contract. That seems like a red flag, one that the actor may have seen in other areas of the production. This is by no means an attack, I just wanted to throw out a flipside to this as there's several elements to consider.

I've moonlighted as an actor myself, and in fact was in the very same situation. I spent 5 months on a film that should have taken 3 weeks if they had taken their time in pre-production, but they didn't and we all suffered for it. And yes, I quit the project with one week to go. To boot, I was the lead! There was one scene to go, one where I was supposed to run down this canyon. Fortunately for the filmmaker he found a stand-in with similar features to pull it off for him.

My point is, this 'director' was ill prepared to direct a feature film, and he lost the trust of the cast and crew within the first week of shooting due to poor pre-production. A simple thing like no contracts upfront is just a sign of a bigger problem that may exist.

I'll hop of my soapbox now and go wipe my tears...

Jim Brennan
11-05-2004, 08:55 AM
I believe that as long as nobody tries to change the deal on you, you should always honor your commitments. If you know going in that a shoot will take a certain amount of time (always allowing for some minor complications), you should honor that. I also think that as a filmmaker you need to have a general idea of how long your film will take. But be up front about the variables. For example if you are on a two week shoot, with mostly exteriors, you may be delayed due to weather. When I am casting, I give my actors a window. When I am done casting, I take into account personal schedules when setting up the shoot. If I told somebody how long the shoot would be, they commited and then quit near the end, I would be very ticked. If I gave them a window, and went considerably over, I would try to work something out. If they weren't willing, I wouldn't be happy, but I would understand. It all depends on the circumstances.

11-05-2004, 09:38 AM
I agree with you Jim, but what's also important is to remember that the filmmaker must honor his commitments and the exchange of good faith in which they are offered.

Part of that, for me, requires the filmmaker to posses the resources necessary to finish the project in a reasonable amount of time. Even if an actor is not a true professional, their time has a tangible value that must be effectively matched by your efforts. If your project is lacking the resources to capitalize on the actor’s value, you are essentially creating a great disparity in the level of qualitative investment to your project.

I just think that the majority of people don’t ever think about the costs incurred by those that assist in production on an unpaid basis. Part of the compensation for that assistance demands that you utilize their time as best as you possibly can.

Again, this isn't a knock against Voytek...it's admirable for someone to keep shooting a single project for four months, I just have the ability to see the actor’s side of things.

Jim Brennan
11-05-2004, 10:04 AM
All true. Like Inspector Callahan said: "A man's gotta know his limitations" Be aware of what you are able to accomplish. Never expect people to be as commited or enthusiastic about your project as you are. It's a different deal when it's just you. But when you enlist the aid of others, you need to be up front with them about anything in the shoot that involves them. Doing less is being unfair, and selfish (IMHO). You may think it's worth it to shoot 12 hour days for week to get your film done. You would have to sell that pretty hard to your cast and crew if they aren't getting paid. It's always better to come to those type of agreements before hand. IF you do, and they bail without reason or notice, you just don't work with them again.

11-06-2004, 04:46 PM
You are right guys.
Next project I am going shoot in a 6-10 days straight.
And I will NOT forget to give my talents an agreemnet to sign.
I will try to pay them maybe. Maybe if I will find some cash. ???

Right now I am writting feature script to be shot in NYC, Las Vegas and Poland (to be cheated in NYC ;) )and I will recast and shoot my first projcect in the spring.


Jim Brennan
11-06-2004, 05:07 PM
Good Luck! Keep us posted.

11-07-2004, 08:39 PM
If possible, always schedule your shooting days to get anyone you suspect may be a problem shot out as quickly as possible. *Yes, your stuck with anyone who basically appears in just about every scene, but anyone else who may appear to be entertaining the waffle, it's best to reschedule and get all their scenes done, ASAP.

Remember the 5P's: Proper prior planning prevents piss poor production.

11-07-2004, 10:32 PM
Firstly, contracts with talent does crapall unless you spend money on your project... ie, pay people and have to repay them for the time lost from the actor walking off... basically, if you spend a lot of money on the film, and the actor walks off, wasting all the money, with the right contract, they can be made to cover those costs... however, that doesn't get your film done and it also doesn't get you your wasted time back...

Having your talent ask to have a crew credit sounds quite ridiculous if they were only brought to the project as talent. I would've perked up right then and there and not gone through with them...

One thing i've noticed about this industry is that it attracts a lot of loons and you really need to be careful...

Also, I think that directors and anyone involved in the creative aspects of the film should love actors and actresses and all the creative talent they bring... it's producers who hate them... they put such a harsh demand on the administrative end of the project. A director doesn't have to worry about the actors, they simply need to make sure they're doing what they're supposed to be doing, but when an actor starts getting pissy (not saying they all do, but they definitely have more sway than a grip) it's the producer that ultimately has the problems occur... not to mention proper scheduling and all the other extra work they can cause.

I would probably never work with an actor or actress that would be extremely difficult though, even if they were really good. It would hurt the entire production and hurt the entire film rather than help it. It creates an atmosphere of negativity which not only affects other actors but it affects the crew and brings everyone's faith in the film down. Someone who can get along with people and is great to work with is equally important to the quality of the film as the raw acting talent. A film cast and crew needs to be very cohesive and get along well together otherwise your film is going to have some serious issues in aspects other than the acting...

11-08-2004, 06:35 AM
One thing i've noticed about this industry is that it attracts a lot of loons and you really need to be careful...

Unfortunately, I believe you're correct on that to a significant extent.

My experience in actor education taught me some unfortunate truths about the people that want to be actors, the most important being that acting often attracts emotionally fragmented people. While this certainly isn't a rule of acting, I've seen it in numbers enough to consider it a trait inherent in a small number of both working and hopeful actors.

I think there are several reasons why emotionally fragmented people are drawn to the field. For some it represents unrequited adulation, for others, it opens the potential to access repressed emotions in a form of pseudo therapy. This gets compounded by the fact that the training of actors is often emotionally damaging to people who are unprepared for it as the process involves extensive unguided emotional exploration. This exploration is incredibly difficult for people who have untreated emotional and mental trauma in their history.

For some people, the process of training becomes so similar to psychological therapy, they come to equate the exploration of emotional damage with therapeutic healing, but the training of actors is not oriented so that the problems and issues explored in the process are dealt with in a helpful manor. The whole idea of “method” acting and similar approaches hinges on the exploitation of historic emotional trauma to arrive at an external result.

In essence, there’s a significant amount of people drawn to acting who have untreated emotional trauma and the process of learning how to access that trauma will often screw them up further as it is not done in a healthful manor. These people tend to develop extremely addictive personalities, they often suffer from body-image disorders, and they become reliant on the thought of acting so much that they’re left helpless when their careers and dreams are not as successful as they imagined.

I’ve seen people on the verge of emotional breakdown, I’ve seen perfectly calm men develop rage disorders, I’ve seen people develop substance abuse problems, I’ve seen a girl get hospitalized for severe self-induced malnutrition. These were all people that would appear to be emotionally stable, but the process of training uncovered all the repressed damage they weren’t dealing with. We’ve seen enough examples in the tabloid media to show that this isn’t a problem limited to beginning actors.

As a director, you’ve got to develop an emotional intuition to be truly successful at your art. Intuition and empathy will help you in learning to talk to your actors and draw out the emotional response your scene needs, but it will also begin to teach you to protect those that need protecting.

I think the “loons” are an unfortunate part of the business, but as with any part of the business, you’ve got to learn how to work with what you’re presented with. In the end, you’re the ultimate caretaker of every person on set, and how you handle that responsibility makes you a director as much as the final film does.

11-08-2004, 06:47 AM
Syndey Lumet taked about how he as a director would deal with this emotional side of his actors in his book Making Movies. For some reason most of the stories were about working with Brando, but I'm not going to comment on that. ;D He didn't go into personal detail, but he did talk about how a director should be able to deal with his actors. It was an extremely interesting book.


11-08-2004, 06:56 AM
If you're in NYC...that book is in the public library system! It's a very good book from a very good director.

Jim Brennan
11-08-2004, 09:17 AM
I'd be lost without my library. Had I purchased the dozens of books I've read this past year on the subject of filmmaking, I wouldn't have been able to buy my damn camera.

11-12-2004, 09:17 PM
Making movies has to be one of my favorite books on filmmaking, anyone looking to go into film making should read that, that and Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez.