10 TALES FROM THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
Anecdotes, true and otherwise
1.DIFFERENT STROKES
The legendary actor insisted on having holes cut in his pants pockets so he could hold his genitals while acting. One day the costumer innocently sewed them up. In the middle of a take he started cursing and stomped off the set. She was fired the next day.
2.PANIC
The actor hated the table read and announced he was quitting the movie. The director pleaded, chided and browbeat him for hours. In the end he did the movie, which became a huge hit. The actor and director never worked together again.
3.PANIC, PT. II
The actor arrived on location four days before shooting. After rehearsal he announced he wanted to quit and was willing to cover sunk costs. The director agreeably said, “Sure. Just make out a check for 4 million dollars.” The actor made the movie. It bombed.
4.PANIC, PT. III
The actress couldn’t find a co-star with whom she could fall in love. Actually fall in love. The director pleaded, chided and browbeat her but she skipped town and the movie went down. Nine years later the actress who took that role won the Oscar.
5.TOUGH LOVE
At lunch on her first day of shooting, the ingenue was taken aside by the director who asked, “How much are you making for this movie?” Convinced she was getting fired, she whimpered “100K.” “Well, you’ve earned all of it,” he said. “Now stop acting.”
6.POKING THE BEAR
A new exec at WB saw the first cut of Clint’s movie and called to give him notes. Clint, who had only made movies at Warners for 30 years, said, “Great notes. Why don’t you do them and call me when you’re done? I’ll be at Paramount making my next movie.”
7.EXPERIENCE
The young director was thrilled to be working with a famous star. She imagined them becoming friends. Despite working well together, he kept his distance. Finally, at the wrap party, after several drinks, she asked him why. “Too many fucking goodbyes,” he said.
8.ROLES
Every morning the actress would panic. The director spent hours talking her off the ledge. It’s axiomatic that an actress can show her anxiety while the director must hide hers. For her work, the actress won an Oscar; the director became addicted to Xanax.
9.A SINGULARITY
Cary Grant arrived at a restaurant early and asked to be seated. “I’m sorry,” said the hostess, “that table is reserved for Cary Grant.” “But I AM Cary Grant,” he said. “You don’t look like Cary Grant,” she said. “No one looks like Cary Grant,” said Cary Grant.
10.GOOD ADVICE
The actor kept calling ‘cut’ during a take. The director fumed quietly until one day, during a complicated shot, the actor did it again. The director exploded. “You have lots of lines in this movie,” he boomed, “I have only two. Action and Cut. Let me say them.”
P.S.
“The saddest journey is one that follows a precise itinerary. Then you’re not a traveler, you’re a fucking tourist. – Guillermo del Toro

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More from @EdwardZwick1

21 Sep
THE MOVIE PRODUCER’S LAMENT
10 things to consider and reconsider
1. FAITH
You call agents; they don’t return your calls. You check your email; the studio cancelled the meeting; the actor didn’t read your script. You read an unsolicited screenplay. This could be the one! Everything is an act of faith. You reinvent your life every day.
2. POLLYANNA
Every year at the Oscars you hear the same speech, “Everyone in town turned it down.” Yours keeps getting turned down, too, but could it use another draft? Doesn’t matter that your mom loved it; are you gimlet-eyed about its flaws? Simply put, good isn’t good enough
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14 Sep
A DIRECTOR’S CAREER
Contradictions, calamities & compromises
1. IT NEVER STOPS
Fred Zinneman, winner of 4 Oscars, director of 50 films, was in a meeting with a young development executive. To break the ice, she politely asked, “So tell me what you’ve been up to...” To which he politely responded, “You first.”
2. IT NEVER STOPS, PT.II
Following his first Oscar, Mike Nichols was cutting the big, problematic “Catch 22” when he heard about a little indy called M*A*S*H and took a peek. He was so depressed by its irreverent genius he went home and couldn’t get out of bed for a week.
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8 Sep
10 THINGS ABOUT DIRECTING ACTORS
Technique, Tips & Trauma
1.RESULT DIRECTION
Don’t ever tell an actor you want him to cry. If an actor is thinking about a result, it blocks the internal process that allows him to reach the emotion in an authentic way. Besides, the goal isn’t to make the actor cry, it’s to make the audience cry.
2.INTERPRETATION
Actors and directors talk about “choices.” Predictable choices are boring, but arbitrary ones can be awful. Any choice is better than being “on the word.” If the dialogue’s good, it will take care of itself, but only if there'ssomething going on underneath it.
Read 11 tweets
8 Sep
10 THINGS ABOUT DIRECTING ACTORS
Technique, Tips & Trauma
1.RESULT DIRECTION
Don’t ever tell an actor you want him to cry. If an actor is thinking about a result, it blocks the internal process that allows him to reach the emotion in an authentic way. Besides, the goal isn’t to make the actor cry, it’s to make the audience cry.
2.INTERPRETATION
Actors and directors talk about “choices.” Predictable choices are boring, but arbitrary ones can be awful. Any choice is better than being “on the word.” If the dialogue’s good, it will take care of itself, but only if there's something going on underneath it.
Read 10 tweets
31 Aug
A SCREENWRITER’S OMNIBUS
Tips, tricks, & tirades
1.PRIMING THE PUMP
Always leave something undone at the end of your writing day. You’ll have a running start in the morning. Think about your script in the moments between waking and rising. There’s an image in your head, you don’t know why. The elves were working overtime.
2.HOMEWORK
Study great scripts not to imitate, but to learn the architecture. Internalize the beats and tropes of genre to understand the audience’s expectations and subvert them. Picasso could paint beautiful portraits before he rearranged the faces.
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16 Aug
THE DIRECTOR’S PSYCHE
Where the DSM-5 meets the DGA
1.FOCUS OR FUGUE STATE
No one wants to talk to the director while he’s shooting. Anxiety surrounds him like a toxic cloud. He appears possessed as he acts along with the actors on the monitor. Don’t even try having a human moment. Just pat his shoulder and move on.
2.LONELY AT THE TOP
The crew harkens to your every word. The actors take your direction. But nobody really cares how the authority figure is feeling. If she got a good night’s sleep. If her marriage is okay. Alienation comes with the gig. In dreams begin responsibilities
Read 12 tweets

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