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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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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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 sounds like a dream. As Jim points out, it allows the filmmaker to have more control over the trailer, poster, and other art forms. He says he views distribution as a continuation of the making the film, and that to him the film is a property that he manages and “rents” around to distributors.

Cummins key advice is to make films as much as possible, especially short films that are similar/ relevant to the dream feature film you see yourself making in the future. Not only is this a good way to gain quality experience, but it also allows you a chance to become more known in the filmmaking community and build connections. According to Cummins, it doesn’t matter how good a filmmakers script/ product is, but it’s all about the value that the filmmaker holds.

Cummins last key of advice is to find those you trust and COLLABORATE with them, and above all less take every opportunity you have to gain experience and grow as a filmmaker.


Listen to Jim Cummins full Podcast with Film Riot Here

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 1st AD and Cinematographer work just as hard as the director.

Howard says that it’s often the most helpful when the 1st AD also functions in a producer role early on in the pre-production process. This way the 1st AD is more familiar with the film and has a voice in the decision-making process from the beginning. He describes this relationship as helping to identify the absolutes and the possible land mines that will arise later on in the film-making process.

It’s not uncommon to hear the saying- a director, not a dictator. Louise Drumm, an assistant theater director with Dublin Youth Theatre states, “To be a good director you have to know when to let go.” Ron Howard brings this quote to life by establishing a symbiotic relationship between himself, as the director, his 1st AD, and cinematographer. He seems to be aware that filmmaking is a collaborative process, and perhaps this is the reason many of his films have been so widely successful.


“One of the great things about being a director as a life choice is that it can never be mastered. Every story is its own expedition, with its own set of challenges.”

-Ron Howard


Listen to the Directors Guild Podcast The Craft of The Director with Ron Howard Part 1 (Ep. 258) here.