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What People Get Wrong About Making A Movie – Stanley M. Brooks

Film Courage: Stan do you watch your work? Do you go
and watch reruns? Stanley M. Brooks, Director/Producer/AFI Adjunct Professor: I watch my work while I’m doing it. I’m incredibly
involved especially in the post-production. I try not to do much on
set as a producer obviously as a director I’m running the set but when I
get to post if I’m the producer I like to do everything I like to be the person
who locks the cut I like to be there in the scoring session work with the
composer do all the visual effects sit in the editing room do the color correct
be there for the mix to be there for the final mix all of that I like I love that
part of it I was a musician in high school I like the music I liked the
whole because I think there’s three parts to making movies that people
forget and my competitors in television movie business I think didn’t follow
this and I think that’s one of the reasons there’s an Emmy on my shelf and
not on other shelves is that there’s three very distinct parts of making a
movie the first part is the script and that script is written to get somebody
to give you the money that’s its job the job of that script is how do we get to
make the movie the script isn’t here’s the plan for the film here’s what it
should look like here’s what it should be that job of that piece of pay those
120 pages is to get someone to say you’re greenlit go make the movie now
you have with the money now you have a second period which is the production
period which is less make the movie now whatever’s in that script may not
necessarily you may get a piece of casting that comes in that you know what
they’re better than what was there we’re gonna change that or we go to the
location and that location doesn’t exist you may want a house that overlooks the
water but you know on this budget I can’t afford a house that overlooks the
budget so what we look the water so we’re gonna find another house that’s
where you take what was in the script and now you have a production script now
you have a production plan and now you’re making the best movie you can
from that part of the creative process it’s no longer the script it’s now the
production script and now you finish now you get to the editing room most of the
people that television movie biz is that I’ve worked with will use the script and
put the film together the way the script unfolded and if there’s a star that’s
the star of the film and if there’s a plan for flashbacks or
voiceover that’s the plan and put the film together like that and you give it
to the network I don’t believe in that at all I believe that now you’re wrapped
now you go into the editing room and say okay what’s the best movie I can make
from what we shot not from what we wrote from what we shot there’s gonna be and
it happens on every film there’s gonna be performances where you go wow I
didn’t expect that that character actor in these five scenes steals the scene
from the star so don’t cut the scene staying on the star cut the scenes
saying on that because that’s who you want to watch that’s who lights up the
screen I’ve discovered actors that have gone on to big careers there it’s not
always in them in the lead role but you’d be a fool not to have the camera
on them even on reaction shots the same with with music there may be a call for
a certain kind of music in a scene you play it and go that doesn’t work there
may be a call for a visual effect that doesn’t work so now what you got to do
is structure the film I’ve had films that start inseam 25 and then flash back
to start at the beginning so you see something that’s gonna happen you don’t
know what it means and you don’t know where that’s gonna take you and then at
some point in the film you catch up to that scene and I’ve put the film
together and go that doesn’t work I don’t want to see that at the beginning
gives it away plus the fact I’m bored I don’t know what that means
so we lop it off and we start the movie where it’s supposed to start because
that’s the film tells you what it’s supposed to be the performances tell you
what the movie’s supposed to be you need to move it around at their puzzle pieces
sometimes and so that third part which is how you make the movie in post I
think is part of why my films in the television movie business have been more
successful higher rated better reviewed than most of my competitors and you know
that was why my company was called Once Upon a Time is I was a storyteller I was
gonna be a storyteller from the first day we start on the script for the last
day we deliver it to the network so this movie tells you what it’s supposed to be
in the Edit Bay and then you work within that it’s not that script the initial
screw you don’t stay to sort of like mayor
to that one script correct interesting okay and sometimes directors on a
television movie because that’s what they directed can’t let go of that
structure or those performances or that pacing and so it’s my job as the
producer to be able to separate myself and say okay I have this much footage
what’s the best movie I can make it’s you know I have all these different
pieces of clay what’s the best sculpture I can make I’m not gonna leave them as
blocks I’m gonna mold it into something that’s perfect
or as perfect as can be from what I’m given I’m not given what was in the
script we had hoped that that actor was gonna be the star well as it turns out
the other guy in the movie is a better performer so I’m gonna want to Lee in
the movie that way I’m not gonna just for pride sake because I cast this guy
as the lead and this woman as the co-lead stay on this side I let the
movie tell me what it should be I let the movie tell me how it should be
cut how it should be scored how it should be mixed how it should be color
corrected it tells you you pay attention it tells you as long as you can let go
this is the back to the coloring outside the lines question as long as you can
let go of what you wrote and what you thought you were gonna shoot you know
the happy accidents you stuff happens on set all the time but those happy
accidents aren’t probably in the script those are things when I directed perfect
sisters with Georgie Henley and Abigail Breslin and Mira Sorvino the best image
in the entire film was not in the script I showed up on set and Georgie was
sitting in a classroom by herself and it was and it would they were these green
desks elementary school desks and they were all in rows like a Kubrick movie I
mean the geometry of the shot was amazing and we were waiting for all of
the other kids to come in because it was a classroom scene and Georgie was
sitting in the middle seat by herself and I remember looking at her and
thinking that’s the shot where she decides she’s gonna kill her mother I
don’t have that in my script I don’t have that in my storyboard I don’t have
that in my production plan and I said to the director shoot that and I’d said to
Georgie just look down and then look up and that’s probably the most powerful
moment in the film was not in the production plan was not in the script
and it spoke to me it just all of a sudden she was there the the symmetry of
the room everything just said we have to shoot that have you ever put footage on
the editing timeline and with with your editor and whoever else in the room and
watch the whole thing through and just sink down and go we can’t use any of
this and then I mean you know have to say which which production but and then
over time shaping it doing you know maybe a couple new resuits it actually
turned into something beautiful well it’s interesting as a producer a
lesson I learned and it was maybe the hardest lesson to learn as a filmmaker
it was pretty much the hardest lesson I’ve ever learned is that the hope you
have for what the movie will be is never there when you look at the editors
assembly there’s assembly first of all is the editors idea of how it should
come together and there’s no score or they stuck in some you know temp there’s
no sound effects there’s no ADR none of what you do in that third process has
happened yet and yet I always forgot and I finally taught myself don’t be
depressed when you see the editors assembly it’s not going to be that bad
as bad as it feels now the movie that you thought you were gonna make you can
still get there but this isn’t and and I learned I learned quickly probably after
five or six films let that depression go don’t walk in with the expectation this
is gonna be a walk in the expectation it’s not and then I forgot it all when I
became a director and the first cut of the first movie I directed I solved I
said to the other that’s thank you so much I walked in my car and I cried for
an hour I said I am NOT a director I did such a terrible that is such a terrible
movie if I could throw it all out I could throw it all out and start again
and then I had to call my friend Jeff Loeb who was
the best storyteller I know and he said you’ve been through this before you’ve
done this you’ve made 70 movies stop you remembered as a producer now remembered
as a director it’s just more personal now and eventually we worked with it and
worked with it and work with it and then I got the movie I wanted but yeah that
was the hardest and I still even when I just directed an episode of agents of
shield and still when I see the assembly it’s like uh and then you get there you


  1. New Haven Productions Author

    I completely agree with this. As a writer/director, my main goal is to see the vision through to the final edit. That's the key. What is this film about? Where's the heart? No need to go against the grain.

  2. Scenes Author

    Great information. I feel this way about all my short films I create. The first cut always doesn’t sit right with me. It isn’t until I have the sound, score and lock when I feel like I am a filmmaker. Keep up the great work with these interviews Film Courage!

  3. Dan B. Author

    Three parts of making a movie (0:48 screenplay; 1:18 Production Period; 2:24 Editing / 3:52 Post-Production).0:54 Purpose / job of the script (i.e. for someone to give you money). 3:14 Great info, for screenwriters, on flashbacks. If a screenwriter writes a series of movies (trilogy or more) and, maybe, series are tied into a greater collective, Stanley's post-production methods might leave out important series-tying elements. This level of post-production would scare me, if I was in the mix for such a grand project. 5:06 He speaks of focusing the camera off the MC to showcase someone acting better.

  4. LorenzoNW Author

    Seems like common sense. I thought all films were made that way. I guess not. I'm a graphic designer and I never end up with what I started with. The design and concept evolves and improves as I work with it.

  5. I Might Be Funny Author

    So true. Did this on all my films. Nothing wrong with what he’s saying. If your watching it and love movies. You will do what you have to do to make the best film.

  6. Animotost Author

    I completely agree with this approach most of my best work came from adapting in post production. I always thought it was irritating and was my lack of ability to be a good filmmaker and have control over my work. But I guess I feel a lot better about it from this guy it does make a lot of sense.

  7. DrizzyPuffs Author

    This man speaks the truth. You gotta make the movie itself good rather than making your friend whose acting in it look good. You gotta make a good movie for the sake of the art rather than pleasing others, if that makes sense.

  8. QualityVideoService Author

    Everything he touched on, I applied to my film. I wrote, produced, directed, edited, color corrected. I produced the soundtrack, It's a learning process, my lead gave a great performance. Check out the trailer, DVD is on Amazon.

  9. Victor DIAZ Author

    I believe as a director your job is to get a great performances from your actors. Although, the magic and the memories are created post production, in the editing room, so a director with vision should definitely be involved in creating those key moments.

  10. Max Maseko Author

    Thank you for this piece…I've always been hard on myself when my edits have veered off the original script it made me doubt myself…to see someone at that level saying its okay gives me confidence…

  11. Mr. Tibbs Author

    No question this guy loves his own work but man… knocking down your competition like this? Um, not a good idea… remember, you can always meet those same people on the way down that ladder, too and in LA, there are a lot of homeless people. You'd think for a guy who's a story teller would have a little more humility in the way he talks about others.

  12. Alexis Papageorgiou Author

    I do that too, watching movies and finding mistakes in them and several things that would make them better, but at the end of it, I don't leave the room thinking that this is now my film … LMFAO. He's a monster in the business, but he should learn how to better display his respect for his fellow writers that spend years writing the stories he's hired to bring to life. Or maybe he's just talking about series but somehow it got mixed up in the conversation about movies. I don't know. Very frustrating interview, because it also includes some very passionate stuff I love hearing about and have the utmost respect for …

  13. Mad Mark Wolfman Author

    This is some of the absolutely truest and best advice I have heard from a filmmaker. I've worked in film, features and shorts and things can totally change the feel or vision of the script in sometimes small ways, or big ways in editing and post production.


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