Tuesday 25 February 2014

Six golden rules of moviemaking - McG

For many Australians, the MCG, that's the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the uninitiated, is the spiritual heartland of the nation. It is located in Melbourne. I was born about a mile from the place, and worked there as a cleaner when I was nineteen. It is a major landmark in my life, so I find it difficult to say "M.C.G." and mean anything other than a gigantic arena set in acres of parkland.
    But there is another McG, with a little "C". That applies to Joseph McGinty Nichol, a name which doesn't roll off the tongue as readily as "McG". 
    McG was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. He is a producer, writer and director, best known for Supernatural (2005), Chuck (2007) and The O.C. (2003). A few weeks ago, McG provided MovieMaker magazine with the following advice for filmmakers.

1. Make sure the actors know what they are signing up for. At the end of the day, they are the ones in front of the camera. Altman was right: 90 percent of directing is casting. Actors are the living, breathing expression of what you’re trying to achieve. Make sure you are in lock step.

2. Be prepared. There will always be the artistry of the day, and the absolute need to improvise, adapt and overcome. But the better prepared you are—the more clear your vision of the film—the more likely you will be to achieve that vision.

3. Be ready to endure immeasurable difficulty. I would suggest watching Hearts of Darkness on the eve before principal photography. If Coppola can withstand firing #1 on the call sheet, losing helicopters to fight the rebels, typhoons and Martin Sheen having a heart attack, you should be able to deal with whatever shit will come at you.
4. Always acknowledge the best idea. Great ideas come from night watchmen, grips and Teamsters. It should be presumed that your vision of the film is strong; it will only contribute to your command of the material if you are able to incorporate new and superior ideas. A film is a living, breathing thing. You need to go in prepared, listen to the rhythm of the process, make any adjustments necessary, fight like hell to get them done (because everyone is going to regard change as a pain in their ass) and continue to drive toward the singular vision of the film.

5. Be proficient at every job. If you were a rock n’ roller and your name were Prince, there is incredible power in being able to look at your bass player, keyboard player, drummer and have them all know you can do it better. Fincher can make this claim. We should all aspire to be so accomplished.
6. Every filmmaker should aspire to have a signature. It is art, after all. Make your statement.

McG's latest feature 3 Days to Kill just premiered in the US. It stars Kevin Costner as a dying Secret Service Agent trying to reconnect with his daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) and is being hailed as one of Kostner's best in a long while.

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Unknown said...

It is fantastic when a director of heartfelt dramas gives advice. Joseph McGinty Nichol is worth listening to.

Ed Love said...

A nice quick read, thanks for posting this.