Controllable Situations - Complications Ensue
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Friday, August 31, 2007

I see that John August's new movie, THE NINES, is out.

August is a top Hollywood screenwriter. But notice what he chooses as his feature directorial debut. The film takes place entirely in a house -- in fact, in his house. It is made of three vignettes involving the same three actors. In other words, it is an entirely controllable shooting situation. No car chases, no explosions, one location, three actors. It's a chamber piece.

He could probably have directed a more ambitious movie, just by writing a hot script and attaching himself. But he's wise enough to start small. (I see he also directed a comedy short nine years ago.)

If you're a writer looking to direct, look at the feature debuts of big name writers. Billy Wilder started with a little piece of fluff called THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR, which I think takes place mostly on a train. (Which, of course, means on a train set in the studio.) Stephen Soderburgh's SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE takes place mostly in two houses.

The more controllable your script is, the more likely people are to let you direct it; and the more likely you are to do a good job with it.



The Major and The Minor takes place on a train and at a military academy. It is not fluff at all -- it's quite a sharp comedy about pedophilia and youthful reversion and is one of the best directorial debuts in history.

By Blogger Matt, at 10:23 AM  

The film doesn't take place entirely at his house. But most of it does.

It's a good film. It was sweet and interesting and a little scary and made me cry and laugh. That man sure knows how to tell a story.

By Blogger Emily Blake, at 12:43 PM  

Actually, I'll go even further than Emily, and say that quite a large chunk of it (perhaps even half) does not take place in the house.

By Blogger Fun Joel, at 8:16 PM  

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