13 posts tagged directing
13 posts tagged directing
Writer/Director/Producer Jill Soloway has always considered herself a “storyteller first and a filmmaker by necessity”. As a child, she and her sister created and performed plays for anyone that they could get to watch. This evolved into a drive to write and direct films and TV and to tell longer and better kinds of stories. Her career has been a successful one, serving as a writer and producer for series such as United States of Tara and Six Feet Under - for which she was nominated for 3 primetime Emmy Awards and a WGA award. She also took home the Best Director prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival for her feature film Afternoon Delight which she both wrote and directed.
Jill’s latest project is Transparent, an original comedy pilot greenlit by Amazon Studios about an L.A. family with serious boundary issues. Their past and future begins to unravel when a dramatic admission causes everyone’s secrets to spill out.
We spoke to Jill about her inspirations, her approach to her multiple job titles and her expectations for Transparent.
What inspires you the most about filmmaking?
It’s a huge privilege for me to have an audience give me their brain space for however long I get. I get excited to provide a female voice, and I love inspiring other people to take their non-traditional ways of seeing and transform that into art.
Do you approach writing, directing and producing differently?
Those three jobs have all evolved into one big fat braid of creativity. I’ll write the script first, and then prep would be considered producing. As we prep I get new information about the script.
As a director, 95% of my work is casting. I absolutely have to cast people that I’m a little bit in love with. They have to be so funny that they make me laugh as hard as my sister does. The other 5% is showing up on the day and staying present in my body so I can get that little buzz that says, “Ooooh, this is WORKING. Go in this direction.”
In writing, how do you approach the blank page?
I never sit down and stare at a blank page. I get inspired to write or create a project because the world is revealing itself to me in my head. It happens while I’m driving or falling asleep or waking up. It’s as if the characters are ghosts out there in some vague semi-conscious land, and they’re borrowing me to have an audience with the public! It’s a lot like playing or indulging in imaginary stories as a kid. So when I sit down at the computer, it’s usually because I’ve imagined a scene or heard some dialogue and I want to get it down. Once the actors are cast, the voices evolve and I can get even more specific information.
Amazon Studios has unveiled its first round of Notable videos: Sherman & Pacifico, Alluvion, Blockworld, Yellow Sky, Think Tank, and Dear Roommate.
Watch them all here.
Not having any aspiration to direct, I had never storyboarded my own scripts. For me, the idea of storyboarding was akin to waterboarding – pure torture. I was perfectly content with the glorious, twisted images I had floating in my head.
But any of you who follow my Script Magazine Balls of Steel column know I’m a competitive freak who loves a challenge. I have a quest for learning new things, so when Amazon Studios asked if I’d try the free Amazon Storyteller tool, the game was on!
Remember, I’ve never done this before, and I am no artist. Correction, I do have artistic skills, but those revolve around charcoal drawings of nude women – long story. I don’t know anything about creating pictures of clothed people with a cinematographer’s eye.
I admit to being intimidated.
Turns out, it’s not tough at all. It didn’t take long for my addictive personality to latch on and churn boards out.
Overall, the feature, in beta version, is pretty intuitive. You click on any part of the script and a suggested background shows up, complete with the characters intended for that scene. You can tweak their clothing, actions and facial expressions as well as change their orientation 360 degrees. Props can be added to the boards, including background characters as well as the ability to zoom in or out or reframe the shot.
Before I knew it, I had created a 42-board structure of my 8-page script. I told you it was addictive. Or perhaps I’m O.C.D.? OK, maybe a bit of both.
Since the tool is still in beta, there’s obviously room for improvement. One thing I wish it would do is show the boards as index cards that I could easily click and drag to reorder, just like I do when I outline my stories. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer that I want that feature. You tell me.
The props are limited and can’t be manipulated except to make larger or smaller. I wanted to lay books down on the bed but couldn’t. At the moment, there’s also no way to put a character in a prone position. But these are all small details Amazon will undoubtedly update.
Above having fun pretending to be a director, I learned a few things about writing from my storyboarding experience
A jellyfish, Javier Bardem, and Amazon Studios. Click here to understand the connection.