Two prominent executive speakers shared tips with Cinema and Television Arts majors about filmmaking and directing at the Elaine and Armer Theater on Nov. 3.
“It is such a great advantage to be able to work with a film director,” Frank Marshall said.
Marshall took film classes while majoring in political science. He graduated in 1968.
Marshall said he has been to Europe and explored different avenues of film.
“I wanted to go to different places to really be out there,” he said. “I didn’t like being cooped up in one place.”
When Marshall directed the “Bourne Supremacy” in 2003, he said he was given the chance to film in different European cities.
“For me, it has always been an interesting puzzle of how a movie should be made,” he said.
Marshall described the first time he met Steven Spielberg in 1972 when Spielberg was a young director of an upcoming movie called “Duel.”
“You have to get noticed, and if you’re noticed it only means one thing: you’re good;,” Marshall said. “You’re what they’re looking for.”
Marshall said he was very fortunate to have met Spielberg at the right place at the right time.
“It was pretty much luck on my part,” he said regarding an incident when Spielberg recommended him for a role in a film, that he later got.
Marshall said he was also advised by Spielberg to look at a lot of scripts.
Marshall said he and his film production company receive between 20 and 30 scripts every week, of which he only has time to read half.
Marshall also said that directing is much harder than producing because directing involves time and strategic planning.
“The line is very blurry between the two (directing and producing),” he said.
Breck Eisner, film and television director, was also a guest speaker. He expressed similar sentiments about film marketing.
Eisner, who went to an all-boys school at Harvard High, received his bachelor’s degree in film at Georgetown University, He directed “Sahara,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz.
Eisner said shooting “Sahara” was a difficult journey.
“We had a script that really sucked to begin with,” he said. “So to finish it up with great results and satisfaction from everybody was a godsend for me.”
He said that 12 people worked on the script of the movie.
He said the script underwent 25 revisions because Penelope Cruz was not able to capture the character as it was initially written.
Eisner passed out copies of that scene’s script to allow the audience to see how many times it had to be rewritten.
“If the script is in trouble, it is very hard to overcome,” Eisner said.
In a question and answer session, CTVA major Greg Sava, asked Marshall if filmmakers were handed scripts or stories that never made it to production.
“We’ve given up on a bunch of projects simply because we couldn’t get anyone to make it,” he said. “We couldn’t keep it going.”
Marshall said the contribution of technology and computer graphics to the movie business has increased the quality of film.
“We are now able to enhance the quality of filmmaking because of special effects and computer technology,” he said. “But when we didn’t have it to rely on, it made some of us even more creative.”
Marshall also said he prefers to work with actors that are not well known to the public. He said he enjoys working with new faces.
Melanie Stevenson, an aspiring actress, in attendance asked Marshall how he knows a movie is good, and how it could sell.
“I like to get feedback and criticisms from people who saw the movie and supported it (in one way or another),” Marshall said.
He said he believed that the film industry’s biggest problem is a lack of great movies.
“The key is to make good movies. That’s why directors spend a lot of time and members put in a lot of effort in creating a high-quality movie,” Marshall said.
Technique and process are crucial to the development of a piece of story, and he said both are the basic rules of cinema.
“The people who go to see this movie [per se] are the bank,” according to Marshall. “I sell the final product to them.”
Marshall admitted that the film industry is a people business and a market itself.
Eisner encouraged students to form relationships with the people they come in contact with.
“People want to hire people they can work with, so get to know people and form some kind of bond with them, because they hire friends over just anybody,” Eisner said. “It’s who you know 90 percent of the time,” he said.
He said students should take a simple story and expand its general idea.
“Student film is a real, fundamental stepping stone,” Eisner said. “Make a short (student) film of about 5 – 10 minutes, no longer,” he said, “because studio executives have short attention span and you have limited funds.”
Eisner also urged students to build upon on their initial ideas.
“Don’t fall back on your first idea; keep rewriting it,” he said.. “If you don’t have that kind of time frame, recreate the script.”
Jelly Mae Jadraque can be reached at email@example.com.