Spike Lee’s Advice: Follow Your Passion

In a recent podcast on The Craft of the Director with the Director’s Guild Spike Lee gave lots of insight into the emergence of his career and how he has found success.


Lee emphasized several times that it only takes one person to inspire somebody and to ignite a spark within them that begins their creative journey. As a young man, a teacher of Spike Lee’s expressed to him that he believed that Lee should become a filmmaker. Once he fully realized that was the direction he wanted to go with his life, everything fell into place, and an intense drive and ambition came to be.


According to Lee, we all have individual gifts and talents we can offer, and once we decide on a path, everything will begin to make sense. As long as you are following your passion, everything else will fall into place.


Lee’s last piece of advice is that as a creative, you cannot put limitations on yourself and what you are capable of creating. Tell stories you are drawn to and passionate about. Don’t be afraid to explore and get outside of your comfort zone.


Listen to Spike Lee’s full podcast with The Director’s Guild Here


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FireFly lane (2021) review

Synopsis: Tully and Kate meet as young girls on Firefly Lane and become inseparable friends throughout 30 years of ups and downs. First episode date: February 3, 2021 Network: Netflix Program creator: Maggie Friedman Executive producers: Maggie Friedman, Stephanie Germain, Katherine Heigl, Lee Rose, Shawn Williamson, Peter O’Fallon My Review: After watching the first few episodes of this series, I was not sucked into …

Alien(s) (1986) Review

Synopsis After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds …

Alien (1979) Review

Synopsis In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and …

ava duvernay: tips on being an effective director

In a recent podcast with The Director’s Guild, Ava Duvernay sat down to discuss her tips of the trade on being an effective director.


Ava’s biggest piece of advice is to know yourself as a director, including your limitations as a director. Knowing what you are and are not capable of creates a more effective production environment. It’s also deeply important to be confident as a director. However, it’s equally important to be able to listen to the ideas of those around you. Duverney went as far as to call the input a director gets from the people around them as gifts.


She also emphasized how important it is to view all three stages of production as a process. A director needs to build a film brick by brick, and it’s critical to surround yourself with a cast and crew that you trust.


Ava’s last key of advice was to train yourself in multiple areas of film and to be able to work in various forms of filmmaking. You never know what’s going to happen, and it’s always best to be able to adapt if need be.


Listen to Ava Duvernay’s podcast with The Director’s Guild Here


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Justin Baldoni: Meaningful storytelling

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, American actor, director, and filmmaker Justin Baldoni revealed his secrets to telling a meaningful story. The director discussed how his latest films were inspired by real-life and how he allows the story of those around him to motivate him creatively. Everybody has a story to tell, and so much of filmmaking is simply listening and watching the stories of everyday life unfold around you.


Justin’s new film “Clouds” is now available for streaming on Disney+. He went on to explain the film’s long process to be made, and how the film was inspired by real life. Justin had a long-standing relationship with Zach Sobiech, a 17-year-old dealing with osteosarcoma. Justin promised Zach he would tell his story one day, and now the film is finally done being brought to life.


Baldoni also expressed that everything he knows about the film came from working on film sets and learning as he went. Acting on film sets was his means of college education, and he asked questions whenever he could and learned from watching the filmmaking process around him. Always be watching and listening to those around you. You never know when an inspirational story will appear before your eyes.


Check out Justin Baldoni’s full podcast with Film Riot Here


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Lucas Hagar: The Influence of NArrative Storytelling on Documentaries

In a podcast with Film Riot, Lucas Harger talked in-depth about his filmmaking process as well as the creative cross between narrative film and documentary filmmaking. As a filmmaker, Lucas has been successful in crossing between editing both documentary and narrative stories to produce unique and creative content. According to Lucas, being able to create …

julie taymor: the cross universe of film and theatre

In a recent podcast episode with The Treatment, Julie Taymor discussed her new movie “The Glories” and how she uses storytelling to externalize what characters are feeling on screen. Julie Taymor is a Tony Award-winning director of both theatre and film. Her goal as a creative is to master the fantastical elements of the film to express the emotion of a story and the complex relationships within the film.


According to Tamor, the thing that connects film and theatre is sound. Taymor aims to math the sound of the film with whatever is being shown on screen, in a way that makes an emotional connection between the audience and the characters on screen themselves.


For example, in “The Glories,” she describes a scene where Gloria is being escorted home by police. Suddenly the crappy neighborhood of East Toledo transforms into gingerbread houses, mocking the imagery of Hansel and Gretal as she makes her way home. The imagery diminishes by Gloria’s mother screaming at her once she finally arrives home, and the fantasy inside Gloria’s head fades away. By externalizing the fantasy coming from inside the protagonist’s head, Taymor allows the audience to feel alongside her.


In the podcast, Taymor stated: “I have to externalize. That’s what I do as a filmmaker. That’s what we’re free to do. We just don’t stick a camera on what we call naturalism or reality. I did it in Titus. I’ve done it in pretty much every film I’ve done.”


Listen to Julie Taymors podcast with The Treatment Here


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r-e-s-p-e-c-t on a film set: advice from mimi leder

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Mimi Leder, an American director and producer, gave her best advice for keeping a healthy and productive film set. Mimi’s key piece of advice was to treat everyone with the respect that they deserve, and to always show them your appreciation. She pointed out that the cast …

working with what you got: Advice from the creators of Faith Based

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, the creators of the film Faith Based (Vincent Masciale, Luke Barnett, and Tanner Thomason), gave constructive advice to filmmakers who think they need to wait till they make it into Hollywood to make their film. The filmmakers discussed how their original plan for the film was to shoot …

r-e-s-p-e-c-t on a film set: advice from mimi leder

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Mimi Leder, an American director and producer, gave her best advice for keeping a healthy and productive film set. Mimi’s key piece of advice was to treat everyone with the respect that they deserve, and to always show them your appreciation. She pointed out that the cast and crew of a film were handpicked because of their talent and qualifications and to show them the respect that both them and their art deserves.

Mimi stated that before COVID-19 life, she would arrive on film set and before doing anything else go around and hug everybody. To showcase gratitude and spread good vibes to everyone on set. She also advised taken the time to get to know your cast and crew on both a personal and professional level. Everybody has a story to tell, and in getting to know somebody on a deeper level, it’s easier to understand them and how they function.

Another key piece of advice that Mimi gave is to find the perfect balance between listening to an actor’s instinct and your initial director instinct. She stated that when working with experienced and talented actors, they almost always want to listen to their gut instincts as an actor. Most of the time their gut instinct will never steer them wrong, however it’s okay to correct them and steer them more towards the directors instinct.


Read Mimi Leder’s full podcast with The Directors Cut Here


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julie taymor: the cross universe of film and theatre

In a recent podcast episode with The Treatment, Julie Taymor discussed her new movie “The Glories” and how she uses storytelling to externalize what characters are feeling on screen. Julie Taymor is a Tony Award-winning director of both theatre and film. Her goal as a creative is to master the fantastical elements of the film …

Aaron Schneider’s Directing advice from film Greyhound

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, Aaron Schneider discussed the things we were forced to learn while shooting Greyhound. Most of the films set was composed of green screens, which had its challenges. Schneider’s main advice is to come up with a detailed and set plan when working with extensive green screens and technology …

Humility and Confidence in Filmmaking- Quincy Ledbetter’s advice

In a recent podcast episode with Film Riot, filmmaker Quincy Ledbetter discusses his first feature film with Paramount and how he got to where he is today. Ledbetter’s key advice is that a filmmaker needs to find the perfect balance between confidence and humility. He went on to state that as a director it’s okay …

working with what you got: Advice from the creators of Faith Based

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, the creators of the film Faith Based (Vincent Masciale, Luke Barnett, and Tanner Thomason), gave constructive advice to filmmakers who think they need to wait till they make it into Hollywood to make their film. The filmmakers discussed how their original plan for the film was to shoot from their own houses using iPhones, and how it grew into a full-blown feature film.

Throughout the entire pre-production process they all decided they were going to make this film no matter what, even if no producer picked it up or was willing to work with them. All three agreed that this is such an important attitude for filmmakers to have regarding every project they may encounter.

They also gave some detailed advice on the overall pre-production process. When creating a script, all three men agreed that it is crucial to write your script knowing which resources are available to you. The locations, characters, props, and everything else with your film must be tangible and cost productive. Like many other filmmakers, they advised that a lot of time be spent in the pre-production phase, and to get as much feedback as much as you can early on in the process.


Listen to Film Riots Podcast with Vincent Masciale, Luke Barnett, and Tanner Thomason Here


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Judd Apatow: The Role of improvisation in FILMMAKING

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Judd Apatow shared his advice for film directors. Judd had lots of brilliant advice to give, but the principal thing he kept reiterating was the important of improvisation in film-making. He expressed that throughout the entire film-making process he slowly allows the film to come to life. …

Control Your Property- Jim Cummin’s Advice On Distributing Your Own Film

Jim Cummings is an extremely unique director in the sense that he often heads up the distribution of his films and their production. In a recent Podcast with Film Riot, he explains to the listeners just how he goes about accomplishing this. To many filmmakers, the idea of overseeing the distribution of your own films …

Aaron Schneider’s Directing advice from film Greyhound

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, Aaron Schneider discussed the things we were forced to learn while shooting Greyhound. Most of the films set was composed of green screens, which had its challenges.

Schneider’s main advice is to come up with a detailed and set plan when working with extensive green screens and technology on set to try to minimize everything that could go wrong during filming. It’s always a good idea to do test runs of everything before the camera even begins rolling. Once you have all the structure completed for a scene, then you know you are ready to roll the camera.

According to Schneider, the idea for the film came from a book Tom Hanks read and then wrote a script from. In terms of creating a movie that’s been inspired from a book, Aaron stated that everything that you need story wise comes from the narrative. For Greyhound he said the complete structure for the film came from Tom Hanks script, which was inspired straight from the novel. His final piece of advice about the story is to make your main goal as a filmmaker to bring the story to life not to change it.


Listen to Arron Schneider’s full podcast with Film Riot Here


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Too Loud For The Crowd?- Criticism On Nolan’s New Film Tenet

Christopher Nolan’s film “Tenet” has had a successful opening weekend. However, there is still much debate behind the sound-mixing of Nolan’s films and “Tenet” doesn’t appear to be any different. In a recent article with Indiwire, Zack Sharf explores the sound mixing of Nolan’s films and the reasoning behind it. Many people often complain that …

Jody Lee Lipe’s Advice on the Emotional Impact of Cinematography

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, Jody Lee Lipes gave some industry advice on conveying emotion through the eye of the camera lens to the audience. Jody Lee Lipes describes cinematography as the physicality of words in images, and the cinematography of a film can have a massive impact on the psyche of an …

Humility and Confidence in Filmmaking- Quincy Ledbetter’s advice

In a recent podcast episode with Film Riot, filmmaker Quincy Ledbetter discusses his first feature film with Paramount and how he got to where he is today. Ledbetter’s key advice is that a filmmaker needs to find the perfect balance between confidence and humility.

He went on to state that as a director it’s okay to level with your cast and crew and admit when you don’t know everything. In fact, he admitted that in several points of his career some of his best cinematic moments came from speaking with cast and crew and brainstorming together.

When describing his first feature film, Alieu the Dreamer, he described how throughout the entire pre production and pitching process he went forward with the mentally that no matter what happened he was going to make the film anyway. Fully believing this calmed nerves and helped him to gain confidence when pitching to producers.

I think everyone has heard the phrase don’t think just do. But Ledbetter really brings this mentality to life and gives humbling advice on maintaining a balance of humility and confidence as an emerging filmmaker.


Listen to Quincy Ledbetter’s full podcast with Film Riot Here


John Badham’s advice on seducing the actor

In a recent podcast with Film Riot, John Badham gave constructive and well-thought out advice on how he as a director has learned to improve his work relationship with his actors. The key piece of advice that John gave is not to persuade the actor but to seduce them.

He explained that all actors have these innate instinct and gut reactions for a scene, and that its best to allow your actors to play out these ideas and experiment within a scene. Instead of persuading an actor out of a bad idea, he suggests tricking them into talking themselves out of the bad idea. For example, if an actor’s instincts for a physical movement or reaction in a scene differs from the director’s vision. Instead of saying, “Can you do it this way?” He suggests talking with the actor, seeing why their innate instinct is what it is, and if possible convince them to try it the director’s way by using descriptive verbs to describe the change you want to see.

The best way to accomplish this is by taking the time to get to know your actors. Spend some one-on-one time with them and watch them in the beginning to establish what kind of acting method they use and how they best communicate. John Badham summed this up by stating: “You can’t program an actor. You need to work with them.”


Listen to John Badham’s full podcast with Film Riot Here


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Who Are The Film Critics? And Who Do They Represent?

Kate Erbland recently wrote an article for Indiwire discussing how both women, and critics of color are still extremely under-represented in the film critic world. She states that her article will probably appear familiar to those that read last year’s Thumbs Down Study from the Center for the Study of Women in TV and Film …

Ron Howard’s Advice on Being a Good Director

In a recent Podcast with The Director’s Cut, Ron Howard spoke to Jeremy Kagan about the relationships he builds with his collaborators, and the impact these relationships have on a film. He describes the mutual and respectful relationship he aims to develop with both his first assistant director and the cinematographer, stating that both the …

Judd Apatow: The Role of improvisation in FILMMAKING

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Judd Apatow shared his advice for film directors. Judd had lots of brilliant advice to give, but the principal thing he kept reiterating was the important of improvisation in film-making. He expressed that throughout the entire film-making process he slowly allows the film to come to life. He went further to state that the film should be a living organism that breathes and grows throughout all stages of production.

Apatow explained that he filmed various endings to his new film The King of Staten Island and felt out which ending felt most alive with the rest of the film. He describes the importance of having a film well thought out and scheduled, but he also expresses his attitude that it’s okay to bail on the script from time to time. Not only for the actors but also for the director as filming process goes on and new ideas come to life. During the filming process, he advises to think like an editor, and to see how the film will all come together.

For actors and written scripts, on his set, Apatow encourages actors that it’s okay to not be completely on book. He states that this makes the actors listen differently, since they don’t necessarily what will be thrown their way from another actor. According to him, this helps the film feel less scripted and more life like, and allows the actors to think outside of a tightly wound box. Apatow also expresses that during the casting process, he often throws actors into improvisation exercises to see how they interact with one another.


For me, until I know that the audience really gets what I’m trying to communicate I’m not done.

Judd Apatow

Listen to Judd Apatow’s full Podcast with The Directors Guild Here


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The Mule (2018) Review

Synopsis Broke, alone and facing foreclosure on his business, 90-year-old horticulturist Earl Stone takes a job as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. His immediate success leads to easy money and a larger shipment that soon draws the attention of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates. When Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on …

Silence of the Lambs (1991) Review

Synopsis Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI’s training academy. Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) wants Clarice to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. Crawford believes that Lecter may have insight …

Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash