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DVD Stalk Blog - Stalking You Daily!

ELI ROTH BREAKS DOWN HIS METHOD... AND TORTURES IT

Eli Roth, star of Inglourious Basterds, grew up watching Troma films and showed the Troma classic Mother's Day at his bar mitzvah when no girls showed up. He's kind of twisted in the head. Oh yeah, he is also the writer/director of Cabin Fever and the landmark horror hit Hostel. See? He's twisted. Eli also appeared in Troma's Terror Firmer and Tales from the Crapper, a decision that he must surely regret, and recorded a commentary track for the Bloodsucking Freaks DVD.

ELI ROTH SAYS... (FILM SCHOOL VERSUS SET EXPERIENCE)

I went to film school, I loved film school. But you don't NEED to go to film school. I'm actually one of the few people from my class in film school who's directing movies, and it's not because of talent, it's really much more because of perseverance and drive, and because I was one of the few people who was willing to get coffee for people. If you wanted to be a surgeon, you wouldn't just go out and buy a bunch of tools and show up at the hospital and say "Hey! I'm ready to do surgery!" And if you wanted to be a professional basketball player, you wouldn't say, "You know what? I know everything about basketball. I watch basketball every week, I played in high school, I played in college... I'm going to go join the Lakers." But a lot of people think. "I know everything about movies, therefore I'm just going to be a director." The best thing you can do is get as much set experience as possible before you make your own film. Even Quentin Tarantino made a film called My Best Friend's Birthday, where he spent an entire year shooting a movie on weekends - a film he never finished - and he said that's where he made all of his mistakes. Don't think that when he showed up on the first day of shooting Reservoir Dogs he had never been on a set before, because he had.

I would recommend being a PA on as many movies as possible. When you do that, you learn the pace of the set. You understand how long it takes to light a shot, and you watch other people make mistakes. A lot of people will take PA's for free. I was a PA for free for three or four years, or four or five years. I worked in the casting department, I worked in the editing department, I worked on set, and I really got an idea of what happens. I was the guy going "Excuse me, could you please step across the street." When you do that for sixteen hours a day, you learn the pace of it. You gain patience.

If you are SERIOUS about being a director - if you're serious - you have to move to a city that shoots movies, and you have to work on those movies. That's the best advice I can give. A lot of people feel like they're artists, they're above it, they're exempt... well guess what? There are 699 other students from my class in film school who are not making movies because they felt the same way. It was me and maybe two other guys that were they ones who were willing to get coffee and here we are.

Find The Hollywood Reporter, look at what sets are looking for work, work on every production in every city, every state. There you have it. You can get The Hollywood Reporter online. You can order it. And every movie that's shooting will list their offices. You call them, stop by, drop off your resume, and tell them that you'd like to be a production assistant. Or you can work as an intern. If you're serious about it, tell them, "let me intern for just a month," or "let me intern for just a week." And once they get to know you and like you and trust you, you say, "Can I stay on for the whole shoot?" It's about persistence. And if you get rejected, try again, because that's what it's going to take. It's an endurance test to see just how serious you are about being a director. And if you can't handle it, quit.


ELI ROTH SAYS... (ACTUAL DIRECTING IS ...)

I went to film school, but the best experience I got for making a film was the three years I spent as a camp counselor for a group of thirty-five ten-to-eleven year-old boys, and I had to manage all of them and I had to keep them calm and had to keep them from fighting. That is your job as a director.

The truth is that when you're making a film - when you're actually shooting the film - there is very little directing involved. It's time management and babysitting - a whole different set of skills. When you're rehearsing, when you're working with your actors, that's when you're directing. In preproduction, when you sit down and talk with your DP, and talk through every scene, that's when you're directing. When you're actually shooting the movie, it's like "Oh f--k we have four hours to get this scene and we have thirty-six shots to do!" You better have your shot list, and the actors have to know what's going on. And that's all the stuff you do in preproduction, because when you're actually shooting the film, it's very, very expensive. Even if you have a small crew of seven or eight people, that's seven or eight people that you have to feed.

Your job as the director is to communicate to your crew effectively, quickly, and succinctly. Nobody cares that "this is going to be the greatest movie ever!" Once you're shooting, the lighting guy is thinking, "Do I move the generator there or there? Where do I stage my equipment?" And the sound guy is thinking, "Where do I put my sound cart?" That's all they think about.

ELI ROTH SUMS IT ALL UP

You can make yourself crazy thinking about all of the technicalities, but don't. Do it. If you have that idea in your head that's the idea that won't let you sleep because you see it every time you close your eyes, if you literally have insomnia because there's a voice poking you going, "Do it. Shoot it. Shoot it." Go for it. Make your film, but make it great. Shoot like very day is the last day of your life, like your f---ing life depends on it. Say "let's put as much as we can into the story, into the acting, in the production design... let's just f---ing go for it." And make something great. Put something awesome out there, even if it's a really sick, f---ed-up, violent horror film, do it. Make it better than anybody else ever has before.



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