Edward Zwick – an accomplished film maker in American cinema, and also a veteran of television series – took to Twitter recently and began listing some of the rules that he learned about being a director and making movies over the years.
There are 10 simple rules to making movies
Unfortunately, I never learned them. These are the best I could come up with on short notice…
1. Remember to breathe
You’ve worked for two years to get to this moment, and there’s no guarantee you’ll ever get to do it again. You might as well enjoy it.
2. The Camera is a Buddha
It sees the world as it is. It doesn’t photograph your expectations or your fantasies. Try to see as the camera sees.
3. No plan survives contact with the enemy
Over-prepare and then be ready to throw it all away when the actor feels his character wouldn’t do it that way. Or you’re behind. Or both.
4. A good idea can come from anywhere
You might as well listen to what others have to say because you’re going to get the credit (and the blame) anyway. And remember, the Key Grip has probably made six times as many movies as you have.
5. No movie can be funny enough
Laughter lets the audience know they’re in good hands. They let their guard down and become vulnerable to the serious stuff.
6. On every production
The director loses faith in the movie, the actors lose faith in the director, and the crew hates the actors. Somehow it all works out.
7. The audience’s attention span is even shorter than yours
Fill every moment. Be generous. Be extravagant. Give them all sorts of gifts: jokes, moments, secrets, truths. Stick to the story and try not to shoot the parts you’re going to cut.
8. The actors move the camera, the camera doesn’t move the actors
Unless you have a style, don’t pretend you do.
9. Make your movie for one person at a time
Imagine your fourth grade teacher sitting alone in the dark.
10. Where there is no solution there is no problem
As Hannibal said while crossing the Alps, “We will find our way, or we will make one.”
Are these rules working?
Zwick says: “NONE OF THESE RULES make any difference if you don’t have a good script.”
Edward M. Zwick (born October 8, 1952) is an American filmmaker and producer of film and television. He has worked primarily in the comedy-drama and epic historical film genres, including “About Last Night”, “Glory”, “Legends of the Fall”, and “The Last Samurai”. He is also the co-creator of the television series “Thirtysomething” and “Once and Again”.
Zwick’s prolific body of work has earned numerous accolades, including an Academy Award and BAFTA Award for Best Picture as a producer, and Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series, and Outstanding Dramatic Special. He has additionally been nominated for multiple Golden Globe Awards.