“Several years ago when I lectured at the American FIlm Institute in Los Angeles, I was startled to see how much the students knew about directing. They were up to date on the latest technology, knew which lenses to use to achieve different shots, and were comfortable behind state-of-the art sound and editing systems. Many of them honestly knew more about the mechanics of film directing than I did. This was ironic considering that I had directed seven feature films and most of them hadn’t even directed one.
What was obvious, however, was that they didn’t understand this: Directing is about more than just the nuts and bolts and technological process. That can be learned. It’s also about the people, which is much more difficult to master. More important than selecting the right camera lens is learning how to get the star out of his trailer. More important than knowing the cranes and alternating lengths of the dissolves is knowing the mood of an actor and using his mood to stretch the actor to a better performance. I do this through gentleness, which often confuses my co-workers. Most people in Hollywood don’t understand the power of gentleness.”
Wake Me When It’s Funny (written with Lori Marshall)
When I discovered Garry Marshall’s book in a used bookstore in Dallas a few weeks ago I wasn’t expecting to blog posts about it for two weeks. But that’s what looks like is going to happen. Since the book was written 15 years ago, and some of Marshall’s greatest successes were 2o and 30 years ago, I was concerned if my views would drop off. Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, last week with all those Garry Marshall insights was not only the most singled viewed week I’ve ever had, it was the first time that views on Screenwriting from Iowa crossed the threshold of 4,000 views in a single week.
It’s nice when you go with your gut and it works out well. Part of the boost in views came from writer Larry Brody and his excellent blog TV Writer when he linked to this blog in his post Garry Marshall on Rewriting. So a big thanks to Marshall, Brody, and the new readers for the boost.
So what’s old is new again. I just learned that the The Flamingo Kid (the 1984 film that Marshall directed) is being remade, and the Hollywood Reporter last week wrote about Marshall himself returning to his TV roots after selling a new family comedy called Golden Guys to Fox. He and his son (Scott Marshall) will write and executive produce.
The next two days I’m going to round out this batch of posts on Garry Marshall by stringing together some of his directing tips that I think you’ll find helpful.
P.S. And there will be more from Marshall in the future when I picked up his book My Happy Days in Hollywood: A Memoir, which was published earlier this year.