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Watch: John Wells, Nicole Holofcener, Ryan Coogler, and Other Directors Discuss Working with Actors

Watch: John Wells, Nicole Holofcener, Ryan Coogler, and Other Directors Discuss Working with Actors


Variety held an awards roundtable discussion with a group of acclaimed directors of 2013 to discuss topics ranging from pre-production to editing beloved scenes, and working with actors actors on set. These five directors were Ryan Coogler (‘Fruitvale Station”), Nicole Holofcener (“Enough Said”), John Wells (“August: Osage County”), John Lee Hancock (“Saving Mr.Banks”), and J.C. Chandor (“All is Lost”). 

The lively bunch critique themselves while conversing about the benefits of closely working with the actors on set. Holofcener, Coogler, and Chandor, not only directed the films they speak of but also wrote them and talk about how exhilarating it was watching their words come to life. Even some of 2013’s most renowned directors face dilemmas such as creative control when fighting with executive producers over final cut. So what’s the takeaway, you ask, well we learn that even directors don’t always call the shots.

For more on the five highly praised directors go to Variety here.

Read some of the highlights from the round table discussion below:

“I love being on set and working with the actors. I enjoy the editing because you get a chance to kind of fine-tune it, but my favorite part is you’ve got some words for the actors and you give them to the actors and you’re watching what they’re doing with it. And you find it so often not what you thought was going to happen so I find it really invigorating.” –John Wells

“I like prep a lot because it’s sort of this world of possibilities and also for me it’s where I feel the smartest…that’s the time to make every decision a character decision…so that when you get to the set and the sun goes up, sun goes down…you’re going to make mistakes, but they won’t be fatal ones.”– John Lee Hancock

“I’ve always had such a short prep and short shoot, that no matter how many decisions I make in prep, I end up, on that day, being surprised in so many things that I didn’t think I’d be surprised by…I have a lot more stress and anxiety in prep…once I’m actually on the set I don’t let myself get all freaked out and I’m really excited and thrilled to be there, and I feel that because I wrote the script as well, it’s so thrilling to watch the actors say the words that I’ve written and to feel like they’ve nailed the scene. I like shooting.” –Nicole Holofcener

“My script is 31 pages but it’s very traditional, it’s written in Final Draft and written in slug lines and slugs of information. The film was financed by Lionsgate and Universal Pictures International, which are two very conservative organizations so when you finish reading those 31 pages, you feel like you’ve just seen the movie, so although it felt very non-traditional when you sort of picked it up, when you were done reading, people felt like they had seen a film which is all a script is supposed to be.” –J.C. Chandor 

“Working with the actors — nothing’s more interesting to me than a human being. And once they start to come into the equation and that humanity starts to fill out your characters, I think that’s what really keeps directors coming back to it.” –Ryan Coogler

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