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Filmmaking Tips from the Marvel Directors

We look at what it takes to become a member of the MCU directors club.
By  · Published on April 25th, 2018

Write Your Spec Scripts

As it becomes increasingly difficult to actually enter the industry, however, Shane Black (Iron Man 3) recommends sticking to the basics and writing a spec with the idea that it could lead to paid work down the road. In 2013, ahead of the release of his MCU effort, he told Den of Geek:

“It’s a difficult spec market. Practically nonexistent. But my advice would still be, if you’re going to get in, get in with a spec script. This is my experience. The first script most people write probably isn’t going to sell – mine didn’t! People might be interested in it, they might like the writing, and that encourages them to hire you for something else…”

Get more filmmaking tips from Shane Black.

Alan Taylor And Thor

Be Empathetic

Just as a filmmaker must surround themselves with great collaborators, part of being a great collaborator yourself involves having empathy. When talking about directing for television (and it can apply to film series too), Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark Worldtold the DGA in 2013:

 “You have to be empathetic. You are entering an established world, with personalities that have staked out the terrain. You walk in, you’re the new guy, but you’re also the leader. In a way you’re the least important because you just got there, but also the most important because you’re telling everyone what to do. It’s a very weird dynamic. I still go in thinking they’re going to hate me and I have to win them over every second.”

Find Your Road

There’s no one way to make a movie. Anthony Russo (co-director, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War) told Deadline in 2018 about the importance of finding your own path:

“Know that it’s a risky endeavor, one made harder if you have a significant other, or children. It can get very complicated and risky. Some people have that level of motivation and passion to sort of jump off the cliff, and figure it out as they go. The thing I always loved about the movie business is it is really a cowboy industry in the sense that there’s no prescribed road into it or through it. And no requirements for entry whatsoever, other than being able to do some interesting work, show it to people and hope they respond. There are a million roads to get there…It’s hard to give specific advice because there’s so many different types of animals. In making movies, you just have to figure out what type of animal you are and then find the road.”

Get more filmmaking tips from the Russo Brothers.

Widen Your Talents

In an article he contributed to Movie Maker in 2017, James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) has lots of advice to give, including what it takes to be a director:

“Being a director takes a lot of different skills, and we all have our blind spots, but you need to be really good at a lot of things. If you haven’t taken acting lessons, you need to take acting lessons, because you need to know how to talk to an actor. If you haven’t learned anything about cinematography and how a camera works and interacts with light, you need to learn that. If you don’t know what crossing the line is, start over at one. Those things are all so incredibly important to have a sense of filmmaking. It’s a very difficult process. It’s not simple.”

Get more filmmaking tips from James Gunn.

Listen to Your Actors

In a Reddit AMA in 2015 before the release of his Marvel movie, Peyton Reed (Ant-Man) stressed what’s necessary for working with actors:

“Listen to them. Create an environment where they can try anything at all. Brush, floss and use mouthwash because actors are human beings, and human beings like fresh breath.”


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