Author Topic: 6 Filmmaking Tips from James Mangold  (Read 1053 times)

Offline imchills

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6 Filmmaking Tips from James Mangold
« on: March 03, 2017, 12:17:33 pm »
Everyone is talking about the title character of Logan being an old man, but it’s also worth discussing the advanced status of its writer-director, James Mangold. Not that he’s a weary old codger (he’s actually only 53), but he is a wise and well-established filmmaker with a long and unique career behind him. Many know him for having broken out with the 1995 indie Heavy, but a decade earlier he’d been snatched out of film school by Disney, where he co-wrote the animated feature Oliver and Company.

Eventually he realized the studio system wasn’t the best place to start out, and he took off down the road of the ’90s American cinema dream of Sundance prizes and Miramax deals, and now that he’s come back around to Hollywood with a certain autonomy, he’s enjoying the studio perks. Along the way, Mangold has given us such different films as Cop Land, Girl, Interrupted, Identity, Walk the Line, Kate & Leopold, Night and Day, 3:10 to Yuma, and now two solo Wolverine pictures inside the X-Men franchise.

There are a couple things that unite at least some of those features, one being his interest in Westerns and movies inspired by Westerns, the other being a particular knack for working with actors. He directed Angelina Jolie (in Girl, Interrupted) and Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) in Oscar-winning performances and Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line) to at least a nomination. Many of his other actors, particularly those in 3:10 to Yuma, also deserved to be nominated. Now fans are thinking Hugh Jackman could actually be recognized by the Academy for his final stint as Wolverine.

With Mangold in the fourth decade of his career, there are many things that can be learned from him, some of those lessons being passed on from mentors such as Milos Forman and Alexander Mackendrick, both of them also very much actors’ directors as well as all-around talents. Below are just six of the tips gleaned from interviews and seminars and more, half focused on how to work with the onscreen help.

Write for Blind People
In the book “Conversations at the American Film Institute with the Great Moviemakers: The Next Generation,” Mangold is quoted from an unspecified 1997 interview as saying he told students to “write as if they were describing a movie to a blind person.” What that means is explained further in another transcribed interview with the filmmaker compiled from AFI conversations taking place in 2000, 2003, and 2009. On screenwriting:

The job of the screenplay is to get the movie made. A producer with money in his pocket needs to say, “I want to make this movie.” An actor needs to read this script and say, “I want to be in this movie.” If the script doesn’t read well and excite these people, it’ll never become a movie. So don’t write, “Katherine walks from left to right.” Who cares if she’s walking from left to right? What’s important is that you see the screen door slamming and feel the wind blowing her skirt. So write it! It won’t be a head-and-shoulders shot of that actress crossing the porch if the way her dress blows is something that sees truly evocative and relevant to the story. I rarely refer to a lens or a tracking shot in my scripts, I just write what I want the audience to see. If I was describing something to my grandmother and she couldn’t see, I wouldn’t say, “He’s walking down the hall, he looks really powerful.” To me, that’s obviously a low tracking shot. It’s also a much more enticing invitation for an actor and director.”


Offline Lena01

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Re: 6 Filmmaking Tips from James Mangold
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2017, 07:13:33 am »
James Mangold is an American film and television director, screenwriter and producer. Films he has directed include Cop Land, Girl, Interrupted, Kate & Leopold, Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, Knight and ..