Today’s guest is Paul Dudbridge, author of Making Your First Blockbuster: Write It. Film It. Blow it Up! Paul Dudbridge is a British director, producer, cinematographer, and educator, who makes feature films, television, commercials, and music videos. Paul started producing at the age of 11 when he roped in his father to shoot his first short film. When the resulting footage didn’t match up to what he had seen in his head, Paul decided to go behind the camera himself, and from there, the whole notion of making films, directing, scripts, shots, and angles started to emerge.
With over 20 years of experience in the business, Paul has numerous film and television credits to his name. His first broadcast credits include producing and directing ITV’s The Christmas Storybook, featuring legendary actor Joss Ackland, as well as directing music promos for MTV. His work as a cinematographer includes the action thriller By Any Name, based on the best-selling book by Katherine John.
As a producer and director, he helmed the science-fiction series Horizon, which went on to win a number of awards at international film festivals, as well as earning Paul a Best Drama Director nomination at the Royal Television Society (WoE) awards in 2016. When not filming, Paul guest lectures at various universities and colleges around the country.
Most recently, he ran the Writing and Directing module for the Master’s course at the University of Bristol, taught Cinematography at Falmouth Film School, and Advanced Cinematography workshops for BECTU, the UK’s media and entertainment trade union.
Here’s some info on his new book Making Your First Blockbuster: Write It. Film It. Blow it Up!
Everything you need, from getting the script right to the edit being tight, is laid out in an informal and easily digestible style. Making Your First Blockbuster covers not only all the major components but delves deep into the nuances that make the big blockbusters really deliver. The book uses examples from older and modern blockbuster movies, as well as the author’s own experiences on set to help demonstrate points clearly and make them easy to understand. Aimed at the professional filmmaker, this comprehensive new book also covers how you can shoot and utilize special and visual effects in your films, as well as the techniques on how to shoot and edit action sequences safely, all whilst producing epic results on the screen.
Please enjoy my conversation with Paul Dudbridge.
- Paul Dudbridge – Official Site
- Paul Dudbridge – IMDB
- Book: Making Your First Blockbuster: Write It. Film It. Blow it Up!
- Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible– Get a Free Screenwriting Audiobook
Alex Ferrari 0:18
I'd like to welcome the show Paul Dudbridge. Brother, how you doing?
Paul Dudbridge 4:05
Hey, Alex. Awesome. Thanks for having me.
Alex Ferrari 4:07
How is the weather in the UK today? Sir? It's cold. It's very cold. Isn't unseasonably close. You guys are never cold, always sunny and very nice. Kinda like la but difference.
Paul Dudbridge 4:20
It's only January. It's got you know, they've got all the salt on the ground for stuff slipping over and stuff. So yeah, it's pretty. It's pretty cold out there.
Alex Ferrari 4:28
It's, uh, I want to I mean, it's cold here for us. We're like 40 degrees here. So I don't even know what that is Celsius because we're Americans. And that's what we do. But But for us, that's pretty cold, but I haven't seen snow since last Sundance. Oh, wow. Okay. For Well, a good year. I think so. Oh, really. So it's just cold. It's just cool. Oh, good, Lord. So thanks for being on the show. Man. I wanted to talk about a couple of books that you've written as well as your time in the business. So First off, how did you get into this crazy business?
Paul Dudbridge 5:03
Ah, well, I'm kind of got the classic story I, my dad bought a video camera when I was 11 to film sports days and holidays and all that. And my sister and a couple of mates have my report on this play in the back garden that my dad filmed it. And he kind of filmed it bless him. I don't know if he's ever gonna listen to this. But he filmed the wrong bit he filmed like the behind the scenes stuff of us preparing and not the actual stuff on stage as it were, and we and we were kind of like, I filmed it wrong, we should do another one. So we made a proper film. As you know, we kind of tried to do our own Deanna Jones. And that's where it started. And we couldn't edit everything was cut in camera. So when we stopped when we started the record button, that's the beginning of the shot when we hit the stop button, that was the end of the shot. So it was a nice discipline of what's the next shot going to be because we can't cut this. And we would even do our own music. I think we have Axel f from Beverly Hills Cop has like some theme music and stuff like that. And we had this like stereo off camera, playing the music and someone was hitting the play button while we were shooting the shot, and then they stop. And then obviously when you played it all back, the music would all be sort of stopping and starting and the law next door neighbor's lawn mower was kind of out because sometimes it was he was working. Sometimes it wasn't. And it was just his wonderful introduction to the into making films. And then from there each year, we kind of did a few different films. And then I went to college for a year we kind of I found editing equipment and and just went through there really and then eventually digital came in. But those early years are really quite good for me, I think because I've only shot on film once. But it was a real discipline. How How do you know what's your next shot, you just can't keep the camera running. How's it going especially even back in the day, when you're editing tape to tape, you had this master tape and if you made a film that was half hour long, you have to know how long your shots were. And even the only had two channels of audio. So we had one on dialogue one on music. And if we had any special effects like sound effects to pay in, we have to duplicate the the tracks across to the another tape and then bring it back in the player and copy it across again. The tapes were like fourth generation
Alex Ferrari 7:21
Nothing is more Nothing is more terrifying than being on a set with a film camera. And I was shooting a commercial. And I had to shoot out 120 frames a second. And the SAT I still remember the sound of the that the camera made. And it's just like an all you hear is dollar just dollars just cosmetic, but just cash flying out. And you're just praying that the film doesn't snap. Like, right this is this is this is what we did. But yeah, it was it was good times. It's good times. It's a good discipline. Yeah, it really is. It is an amazing discipline. I mean, I got my start in film, mostly. And shout out. That's all we had. So and then when I got into digital, it's like wonderful to let it roll and just just keep rolling. Just keep rolling, and it goes and but then when you get into posts, as I'm opposed guys just takes takes forever way cool that someone's got to find it. Oh, God, it becomes really, you gotta be a little bit more disciplined. So when I shoot now, I'm like, I don't know about you. But when I shoot, I'll cut. Yeah, I will, I won't let it keep going. Because you just kind of just run through all that crap. It's, it's, it's, it's crazy.
Paul Dudbridge 8:31
I think it also I mean, it is a good discipline to have. And I think that when I was cutting that, but I started editing, I always say to young student film directors, if you want to learn how to direct you need to know how to cut, because you need to know how the shots are going to come together. And we've all been there on sets before where you've got 10 shots to get the sun's going down, you can only get six. And you have to do the mental math in your head and go well, I could drop that shot, I could cut from that to that get around that. I could go straight that I need that shot to make the scene work, I could drop this one. And you can do that math because you know how to cut. And if you don't know how to cut, you're just gonna go, Well, I need to shoot everything, then you run over? Or you're second guessing yourself. So just just cutting, cutting, cutting because I know you know any if you're good editor, you're good director and I think that's the secret.
Alex Ferrari 9:23
No, I agree with you. I I started off as an editor. And it's helped me dramatically as a director because you just kind of know where to stop the cut. Because you're like, oh, you're kind of editing on set in your mind.
Paul Dudbridge 9:33
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And sometimes as a dp as well, I sometimes shoot for other directors. And if you're working for a director that knows editing, and I'd say to them you want to go again on that why and they're gonna be out of that. I'll be out of there by that I'll be on the single and they know where they're going to cut so we don't have to do the shot again. But if you're working with a slightly newer inexperienced director, they go Oh, do you think we should go again, I think we should do the wide again that two minute wide shot for another does take because they don't quite know how it's going to come together. And that's where you run over and things like that. So it's really good foundation I think anything.
Alex Ferrari 10:09
Yeah, absolutely. And before you had to, you know, find an avid system or find a flatbed to sneak in at night or in the early mornings or on weekends to practice on where now literally, you can edit on your phone. But or even, you know, get free software like resolve or Final Cut for like 200 bucks. I mean, it's ridiculous.
Paul Dudbridge 10:32
I love it. I think media first i think is free is a download,
Alex Ferrari 10:35
or they started getting they finally started giving something away for free at avid. Give me a break. Oh, no, no, don't get me started with avid please don't get me started with avid. I can't I just I just can't even with them. But anyway. What do you guys? That's a whole other episode for a whole other type. What do you guys, what do you edit on? avid? No, you're an avid and it's like, I have no problem with the tool. I have a problem with the way that companies run and they charge so much money and they just beat you down and all this and they doesn't play nicely with others. But I'm just gonna say, Would you agree with that with the visual effects and other things like that jumping? You know, yeah,
Paul Dudbridge 11:17
times the workflow isn't as smooth. I mean, obviously, if it's in Premiere, you can jump to After Effects and or resolve or Final Cut
Alex Ferrari 11:25
or something like that. But this conversation, you see, this is what happens with two directors, or to filmmakers who you know, who've been around the block a couple times, we just start chatting, it's gonna, it's gonna it's gonna derail a couple times, I'm sure. Alright, so let's talk about the first book you wrote, which is shooting better movies? How did that come to life? And what made you want to write that book?
Paul Dudbridge 11:49
Okay, well, I suppose there's two sort of strands to that question is one is how I came to write the book because about 15 years ago, I started teaching I there's a there was a television workshop here in the UK. And I started doing some sessions there teaching young students sort of between sort of 16 and 26, the beginnings of filmmaking. And off the back of that, I started doing some teaching at universities and other colleges. So I had this compilation of notes, handouts sessions, and I kind of was slowly beginning to understand how the information should be taught. Because it's okay to know it. But actually getting that across to someone that doesn't know it, and in a way that they can digest it easily is the secret. And I kind of asked over the years, I had all this information. And I thought, you know, I'm gonna write a book, I didn't know anything about publishing. I didn't know where to begin, but I thought, I'm just gonna write this thing on spec. So over about a year and a half, I just wrote this thing, and it's quite big. But at the back of the book, I wanted to have these interviews with people in the business camera systems, gaffers, directors, etc. And I knew just from big my time, professionally, I could contact people and say, Hey, would want to be interviewed for my book. But one of the things I really wanted was the Hollywood perspective. And about two years before that, I contacted a producer on Facebook called Pan dension, who was a writer producer, he went made one of the films, my favorite films growing up, which was Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves back in late 1991. I emailed pan, and just sometimes I said, Look, just to say, I love printing things. I use it in my teaching materials, because the you know, it's a good you know, it's got a bit whole end section with Robin Hood, when he's rescuing all his Merry Men at the end. And the way the director Kevin Reynolds shot, it isn't great sort of examples of orientation and things like that. Anyway, he got back to me, he was like, hey, awesome, nice to meet you. He's from the UK moved over to the states when he was younger. And that was it. And that was about two years ago. So anyway, when I came around to writing this book, I was like, You know what, I could email convention and he could be my interview for the Hollywood perspective for the back of my book. But and this is something that I tell students now when I'm talking about don't answer No, for the other person, which is I I was getting, I was scared about emailing him, because it's gonna say, No, get out of town what you're talking about. And it took me six weeks, I was thinking he's never going to reply. He's never gonna do it, even though I kind of had this contact with him. But that was two years ago. So anyway, I wasted six weeks and then one day I thought, you know what, I'm going to do it. So I came home and I emailed him and asked him if he would do the interview. I emailed him. I remember the timeline. I emailed him at two minutes past five. By 11 minutes past five, we had a date for the interview. And I wasted six weeks, right? And it took us like nine minutes, and he fought straight back. Hey, Paul. Sounds awesome. I call you Friday from LA. We're chat. Speak then. And I was like, that was a lesson for me. Forget the book. For a second, it was just a lesson in, you never know don't answer no for the other person because you know, that could be an actor you want to approach that could be a distributor that could be anything to try it anyway. So I interviewed pan, he was a lovely guy. He gave me loads of wisdom, and at the end of the interviews have, what's your plans for the books? And I said, I don't know, I might release it online, do an E book. And he said, Look, I wrote a book called riding alligator on screenwriting. You should speak to my publisher. And I was like, okay, and who's your publisher anyway, gave me the name of his publisher, which is Michael VC. And I've got nine of their books on my shelf. So I was like, Okay, anyway, about four months goes past, I finished the book, and I emailed Pentagon, like, I'm ready to email, the micro VC kind of have their details and it went from there. And then I got a phone call from Michael VC, the president of the publishing company. And he rang me to say, well, we like your book. Yeah, we'll take it.
Alex Ferrari 15:58
That's awesome. That's how the book got put in. That's, that's awesome.
Paul Dudbridge 16:03
But that was because I owe credit to pan. I mean, I've emailed him many times since for advice, and to congratulate him on staff and we've stayed in touch and he's just awesome. I owe to him.
Alex Ferrari 16:15
No, it's funny, because, you know, doing what I do now, you know, having interviews and requesting people like to come on, and some people come requests of me, but, you know, I'll go after big guests. And I'll just like, I, I've learned to just ask, yeah, you know, as long as you're providing some sort of value, and you're just not like an energy sucker, as I always call him like these people like, and he can you call up Steven Spielberg, for me? I know, you worked with them on this one movie, can you? You can't do that. But if you come from a really authentic, humble place, and just go, look, I need help, or I need this. I'm gonna say nine out of 10 times. Yeah, they if they have the time, or they'll make the time, it's pretty interesting. It's pretty interesting. So so that's how the book out into the world will let us talk a few things about our in the book, what are some common traits You see, in student films? And I have seen way too many student films in my day, including my own?
Paul Dudbridge 17:16
Well, yeah, there was a chapter at the back of the book, common traits. And I would say, I've been adding about 20. And now I would say, 19 of them, I've made myself in the mistakes I've made. And the common traits are like bad sound. You know, and even just like bad, you know, bad photography, overexposed, all that kind of stuff. And it's like, you don't need the big lighting kit, to worry, you know, to sort of solve that you could just move director foot to the left, so there are that light or whatever. And, and it's just the attention to detail a little bit like that on both those fronts. I see 239 widescreen. A lot.
Alex Ferrari 17:54
on an iPhone.
Paul Dudbridge 17:56
Yeah. And it's like, I can get that and and but you have to come out the wasp, or ratio from the point of view of the story, I think. Right. However, is I recently read an article American cinematographer, where they said back in like the early 90s, I think there was something like 75% of the films were shot 185 and 25%, were shot to 39 or something like that. And then now is the complete opposite. And you get romantic comedies shot to 39 every end. And there was a film I think, went to Sundance last year, and they literally said, We shot to 39 because we wanted to add that extra production value. Nothing to do with the story, nothing to do with any sort of narrative. It's just we did it because we people do associate it with higher production value. What was the other things like? Yeah, I mean, one thing that I did as a kid, we had shoes, we wouldn't make stories that were suitable for the age range that we were. So I had like my 16 year old schoolmates playing police detectives. Fortunately, we It was around the time when Tarantino was quite popular. Yeah, every suits, everything was swearing. Everything was after this
Alex Ferrari 19:10
blood everywhere, right?
Paul Dudbridge 19:11
Yeah, a lot of you were pointing and gun down the barrel thing. You know, it's funny now where you see I see even movies now. And I'm like, someone's left on the floor and put the gun down the barrel. And it's like, that was old heart in 91. You know what I mean? And it's like, you need to find a different way of doing that. Or, you know, holding that on the gun on the side. All that kind of stuff. So yeah, there's a few traits that you know, I was the other one, I suppose getting hung up on kit. As I speak to a lot of students and the first thing out of their mouth is we're shooting on the red. Yeah. I'm reading 4k. And you kind of go watch the story first. Because you shoot on the red if you want, but if you don't know where to put the camera, you don't get your coverage. It doesn't make any difference whatsoever. I know that somehow you're going to say, oh, you're in that league, you're quite established, you must be good if you shoot on the red and nothing against red. So it's those sorts of things that you kind of find cropping up. And, you know, I hold my hands up, I made half of those mistakes. No,
Alex Ferrari 20:17
no, no, without without question. And, I mean, I've done full podcast episodes on gear porn. And like, in the whole, like, you know, people obsessed with gear, and at the end of the day, like, I shot my latest feature, I shot on a on a pocket camera. 1080 P. Yeah. And it worked beautifully. And it looks stunning. And I didn't shoot it 239 though I could have because it was a very picturesque, you know, thing. But that's the other thing. You know, when you see it when you see a student film, or or an indie film, even, you know, when they're starting out where you see that 239 aspect ratio in there in a bedroom. There's no reason for that. Like, yeah, if you're out in the desert, or when you're in a jungle, and there's mountain ranges, and it's like this epic Vista. Yeah, I get it. I get it, but we're just shooting against the white wall.
Paul Dudbridge 21:14
Yeah, yeah. And I think it's the tail wagging the dog quite a lot there. And I think, you know, I speak to a lot of DPS and they talk about vintage glass and things like that. And, you know, you read interviews with like Roger Deakins, and he's talking about shooting on like Alexa, just on primes, just clear, brand new primes. And he said, he doesn't understand the notion of putting vintage lenses on a brand new 4k Alexa, it's like drinking champagne for a polystyrene beaker, you want to get the best image you can. And, and then if you want to do any effects in imposed or grade, and you want to do anything, you know, settle to the image you can, but you want to start with the best quality. So there's lots of, you know, points of view, and pros and cons to all of that. But getting hung up on gear is a big thing.
Alex Ferrari 22:02
I always use tangerine as a model, like, look what they did with an iPhone logo, Shaun Baker did with an iPhone and, and he just had a great story. I mean, the story was so well done and, and that the style of the film made sense. And, and he didn't lead with that. That's the other thing people don't understand. Like, no one knew that film was shot on an iPhone until the very end of the first screening where it said, oh, by the way, we shot this on an iPhone, where he could have easily led with that.
Paul Dudbridge 22:31
Yeah, but then it would have been a gimmick, wouldn't it? It would have been a Hey, look what I've done. And no one will be looking at the story.
Alex Ferrari 22:39
And it's a nice little bonus at the end, as opposed to leading with it. Which is one thing I always see filmmakers do now is like, well, I've made my movie for the cheapest. I made it for $5. I made it for. And you know what, when Robert Rodriguez did it in 91. With mariachi, I made a $7,000 feature film. That's because feature films, you could not make anything even remotely close for that budget. And by the way, I always tell people, the movie that you saw was not a $7,000 movie. That was a $1.5 million movie after they read it all the Yeah. All the sound the sound the loan was like a million because yeah, they had to reconstruct the entire soundtrack from scratch. They ADR the entire movie. But that's a whole other conversation. But but but that that kind of like I made this movie for like, you know, the cheapest thing ever. It does not hold weight anymore. I think that's another big trait that a lot of filmmakers think that they're like, Oh, I made this movie. I'm like, look how cool I am. I was able to do this. For $5. I'm like, that's great. What's the story? No one cares anymore. Would you agree?
Paul Dudbridge 23:44
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think it's just all comes back to story story story. And, you know, what's the message and I saw I saw a film recently a film festival. And technically, I have it was I think they did shorten the Alexa. It was gorgeous. The photography was gorgeous sound, it was basically a feature that you would see in the cinema, but a short form, great composition, great grading, etc, etc. But two things while I didn't know what was going on. And second, I was so bored. And it was just it was just one of those things where I'm going, you've got the skills, you've got the talent, you've got the gear, but what story are you telling? You know, I'm not engaged. You know, what's up with that? So I think it's important to look at story first and then, you know, I think people will be I think they get adjusted to the image quite quite easily. There's a good interview in one of Michael VCs books actually called cinematographer directors where dp john seal is talking with Roger Deakins. And Roger Deakins is all about prime lenses and he hates zooms and john seals a zoo. Man, he doesn't use primes. And it used to be back in the day that zooms would have lesser quality because there's a bit more class go through. And he was saying, but after about three or four seconds of looking at that opening image, the audience goes, Okay, that's the quality. What's the story, and they won't be at the 50 to 50 minutes and they won't be going all but look at that green or look at the let the quality is not great thing that becomes the norm, it becomes the standard. So it's not about whether it zooms or primes. It's about the story because the audience will get past the image
Alex Ferrari 25:34
very quick. Without without question, people will always forgive a bad image, but they will not forgive bad sound. Oh, no. Yeah, bad sound mean Blair Witch Project looks looks horrible. You know, paranormal activity was shot on like, you know, nanny cams. You know, what the sound was? Great. Yeah, without question. Now, can you give me some tips on directing actors? Because I think filmmakers in general, actors are like, they only they only focus on the gear they only focus on on lenses and light and all lights and all that kind of stuff. And they and they, and then if you're lucky, they follow up. So focus on story. Sure, but the actor is this kind of almost mythical thing for especially for for, you know, first time filmmakers and people starting out. They're very intimidated. They speak another language. I mean, they they speak and so I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.
Paul Dudbridge 26:30
Also, well, first of all, I think, don't be frightened of it. I think it's, it's listen to them. Because I've seen a lot of a lot of directors on set talking at length to the actor on this is kind of as a kind of various layers here. One is telling them what they want. And then basically, you haven't given the actor the opportunity to present what they prepare, because you might spend 10 minutes saying, look, I want you to do this, this and this. And that was exactly what they were going to do. So you've now just killed 10 minutes. And also you haven't trusted the actor to go or this is what I've prepared. So take one should be will show me what you've got. And you've got a brilliant that shoot or tweak here and there. And intellectual chitchat as a big thing. Like, it should always be about what the behavior you want from the actor, not talking about what they had for breakfast, what the meaning of that tie is. And there's a wonderful quote that I used in my first book from a book called a sense of direction by a director called William ball. And he say to the actor, if they started getting into an intellectual discussion about what the character means by this and what that represents, just say to them, show me Show me what you mean. And that would probably stop the conversation, because there's no way of performing the actions saying the line that can demonstrate what they're saying, because it's all intellectual. There's no behavior component to that. So it all has to be about the behavior. What if there's a behavioral change behind your direction, then it's good direction. If your behavior doesn't change, then what are you talking about? and direction should be about 10 seconds long. If it's anything over 10 seconds, you've got a problem, because you need to talk at length, about something that should have been talked about in rehearsal should have been discussed on the phone before you went to sell whenever you have the chance to talk to the actor. So it's one of those things where you just need to nudge them either way. Rather than say, right, let's take this whole scene apart and the whole character apart and let's discuss, you know, you know, what's the scenes about and you're just wasting time you're wasting daylight, or film burning film? Whatever. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 28:54
no, I had the I had the pleasure to interview Robert Forster. Right. And he was in Tarantino's Jackie Brown among a billion other things he's done in his career. He's an amazing actor. And I at the time, I was just like, Can you give me the best direction Tarantino ever gave you? And he said, the best I've worked with a lot of directors Alex in the best direction I've ever heard was from Quentin. When he said to me, he would whisper it right before the tape. We were before yell action. He goes, make me believe it. Or not, that was it. That was it. That was it. I was like, wow, that's that's a really good. I mean, you really got to trust your actor everywhere. And of course, the caliber of actors he works with, you know, when Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are on set. He pretty much just, you know,
Paul Dudbridge 29:44
that? Yeah, I'd say I there's there was an example I had. I had an actress on our show that we did a couple of years ago. And what we had to do was she was looking at a clock that the clock is stopped and she she's wedging through these drawers in this kitchen, she looks up to see that the clock is stopped. As the actor, she saw that it stopped. And then she went back to her business. But the editor of me needed to be able to cut in on her closer to the shot of the clock. And she didn't hold that look at the clock long enough for me to cut in, she did it how she would do in real life. And for me to say, Can you look at the clock longer, suddenly would become quite statute would look up and a face would lock in place, it would be quite static, it wouldn't be flown with the character. So I said to her was just make sure that the clock is stopped. So then she looked up and she had to look at it in characters that were in the built in that into the motion of her actions of looking up, she she held the look long enough to go yes, that second hand isn't moving. Now I'll get back to my business and it was long enough. And it's an exercise in what they call not giving result direction, which is your actor just to get a result from them. So you know, and one of the things I say in in my book shooting about movies is to use action verbs because action verbs are a great tool for the actor. So you might say interrogate your daughter as to where she's been. You know why she's come home late. And it's an action verb does is a great tool because there's a connotation attached to that word. So when I say Harrogate, I think of police. And they would go, they would lock eye contact, they would be quite firm, they would be quite assertive. And what you can then do if the actor is giving it too much, and you want them to be a lesser intensity, you can say quiz your daughter about where she's been. Now quiz to me, I think of a pub quiz or a TV show where the questions are asked, which is not, there's not too much intensity to it. So then the performance is lessened without saying, talk quieter, look away at that line, etc. to be considered result direction.
Alex Ferrari 32:04
Yes. act like you're angry at your daughter for being late as opposed to that doesn't give you the same meats to play with as an actress like, interrogate?
Paul Dudbridge 32:13
Yeah, and it's about action verbs do is they give you that emotional core, you want the article and find, and they always say is that one verb and the act goes, I get it. And so so what I do when I go through a script is I might have two pages, and I'll say, what's the character doing that, for the first half of the page, they're trying to convince them to marry them or convince them to go away, then when they're not replying, or then they're not taking them up, then they sort of plead with them. So you find those two or three action verbs that might help when you're on set, and you need to direct the actor, you can just find that verb. And I and that keeps the direction short. So you're not trying to split it apart and talk at length.
Alex Ferrari 32:53
Now, this is a, this is a topic that I love always to asking directors specifically is one, how do you deal with a difficult actor, an actor who is not doing what you're doing what they want? Or if they're being disrespectful, or they're not just listening, and they're making the director look bad on set? And to how would you deal with that same situation with a crew member, like a dp who doesn't respect the director or, or art director or you know, or producer on set? That's just giving you headache? Because as first time directors Look, when I first came up, you know, I had these older crew members, you know, in I'm sure it's the same way in the UK as it is here, like, you know, seasoned guys and girls, they can smell you coming from a mile away. And actors are no no different. So they'll, they'll test you within the first five or 10 minutes. And they'll go, okay, he knows what he's doing, or Okay, she knows he knows what she's doing. How do you handle first the acting situation, and then also just with crew members, because I think that's super valuable, especially for young filmmakers coming up. Okay, first of all, I would probably say that I've had the privilege of working with a lot of good actors who aren't like that, and I'd normally and I can put it down to, if they're confident, and they know their stuff, they've got nothing to prove. So there's no ego, so therefore they don't, they're not difficult. If they're nervous about something, they're worried about that big emotional scene coming up, they don't they haven't really learned their lines, they're a little bit anxious about it, that will come out in one way or another, which is probably animosity towards you. And, and any of the good actors that I mean, good as in their performance. They're also the ones that turn up on time, carry the cases, make the coffee or whatever they you know, when they're not working, and there's a correlation there. There really is. And it's always the difficult ones. It's it's funny as those what they call the enemy of production, where there's always one person, whether it's an actor or crew member, who will derail your film unless you isolate them from a point of view. Work out who it is. And you need to pull them to one side offset and say, Is there something I can help you with what seems to be troubling you? Can we talk about? Is there anything I can do? You know, I'm sensing something but you're not happy? Can I help? And just bring it out out into the open sometimes, especially with crew members is that's the way to go. Because then they realize they've been rumbled pilling with the kindness and you're saying, hey, look, I'm letting you know that I've noticed your behavior. Hey, let's all get on what? What can I do to help you if there's something that you're not happy with? Let's talk and you've kind of they can't, in theory, then continue to be a jerk about it, because you've already pointed it out to call them out on it, call them out on it. With actors, I think it's again, I think, if we can find that thing that's troubling them, so you need to speak to them offset. And let them know that they can mention it. They're not you don't want to do it in front of the DP don't want to do it in front of another actor because they might be embarrassed or what's troubling them might be the person that's stood next to you. And just say, everything, all right, I'm sensing this thing. And again, once you've called them out, it's it's you know, you're you know, you want to make it, you're trying to make the film, the best it can be you need their help to do that. And it's just about getting them onside. And Failing that, if you know, you just want to get as much coverage as you can to try and cut it. It's a It's a sad thing. But it's one of those things where you need to say, Well, if they're not cooperating, how do we still make the scene work? And just work with them? I really do feel that I think I've had this experience. But do you feel that when actors feel that they're not safe, because it's our job to give them a safe space to play? If they feel unprotected, if they feel unsafe? Many of them will, some of them will just go introvert, but a lot of them will come out and will will create problems create havoc, because then at that point, they're in survival mode, because they're exposing themselves so much out there. That it's like, if this guy, or this girl does not have my back, I gotta take care of myself. So screw everything else. And that's when the problems start. Would you agree with that?
Paul Dudbridge 37:20
Yeah. I was just trying to think of something else. That is an example. Sorry, do just repeat that back to me again,
Alex Ferrari 37:30
that when actors are feeling that they're unsavable say, yeah,
Paul Dudbridge 37:35
yeah. Yeah, I think that's I've made that mistake before actually, where the actors very feeling very vulnerable. They've just given me the performance that I want. And what I've done is that I've, I've kind of got Oh, thank God, we've got the tape, right, let's move on. And I'm talking to the DP. But now I find the time to go up to the actor and go, that was awesome. This, that and the other you nailed it, did it? Is there another take? You want to try? You want to try a different way? Because obviously, that was the way that I asked you to do it. Is there another input? And they say, Oh, no, no, no, if you like that, that was fine. Rather, and, you know, they feel like they want to give it another go a different a different way. And there was a tip that I picked up from Spielberg actually where I was watching the extras on, Catch Me If You Can with the Caprio. And he's saying that they would do these tags the way that Spielberg wanted DiCaprio to do it. And at the end, probably just say, right, do just do another one, but go crazy. outrageous. Yep. And he would say that in the Edit nine times out of 10, they would use the outrageous take. Because there was no inhibitions, DiCaprio felt free. But it was just the fact that he had been listened to the actors need to know that they put their point of view of cross. And sometimes I've had suggestions from the actors that I want to go with. And I might make more of a thing of it to the crew that we're going with the actors suggestion, just so they go, Hey, everyone, This idea was from this actor, isn't it a great idea, we're now going to shoot it this way. And they kind of feel a little bit, hey, I've put some input in here and everyone knows it. And it's a little bit manipulative, but you are protecting them in and you're also backing them up really,
Alex Ferrari 39:23
it is so much about filmmaking is psychology, in how you produce it, how you find the money for it, how you actually shoot it, how you edit it, how you distribute it and also just the psychology of telling a story with subtext and and creating different you know, you know, things and all that kind of stuff when you're when you're doing stories. It's it's really interesting, and I think filmmakers really don't get that across they don't teach that in film school. That's psychology should be a prerequisite in any and all film schools would you agree on that?
Paul Dudbridge 39:58
It's like 50% of the SAT because You've got a psychology going on with the crew, you've got the actors with the director or the director and the execs. You've got. It's all it's all egos. Its has he or she had her input. You know, it's, I don't know, it's like, you know, it's the classic story of as well of like, the editor and the director leaving in shots that they know to be bad. overlong it's a new one, it goes up the chain to the producers in the exact Oh, yeah, they go don't like that shot, take it out. Good idea. Thank you very much, producer B, we're takeback Great example a great, you know, input, and then you take out the shot. And they everyone feels that they've been heard. And the danger comes is when you present someone with an edit, where it's in a really good place. And if they're insecure that they need to make changes, otherwise, they still haven't been heard. You're going to be damaging the movie. And then you're into a battle there. So you almost want to go, well, let's leave in that shot. That piece of information is redundant in that scene. So we'll leave that in. And then if no one picks up on it, you can take it out anyway.
Alex Ferrari 41:08
Right and that's that's a piece of advice as a as an editor for so many years, I would leave mistakes in. I would for the client, I would just leave in doing commercials or do music videos, I would leave a mistake like something so obvious. That'd be like, oh, it just it just so they have something to justify their job.
Paul Dudbridge 41:25
Yeah, yeah. You know, all credit to a producer. I think it was against bill Berkey. Sam Mendez was saying in an interview that when he showed Spielberg, American Beauty then one note from Spielberg well, who's the exact because it was the movie through DreamWorks. He said, Don't change the frame. Now caught the confidence from Spielberg. He could have said, Well, look, I wouldn't have done it this way. You want to tighten up that scene to that? But Spielberg had nothing to prove. He didn't need to show Sam Mendez how to make films. Yeah. Only night was don't change anything.
Alex Ferrari 42:00
Because he's Spielberg.
Paul Dudbridge 42:03
But also, it's like, I don't need to I don't need to show you that. I'm Spielberg. Yeah, I need to prove to you that I know my staff. And I think that's such a valuable thing. And if I if I come across crew members and producers especially, and I'm saying hey, I had nothing to add to that Skype call, I have nothing to amend. Because I think what it is, is it's in a good place right now. You know, that's, that's really good. Because then when they do have a note, you listen. And I've also like you how I'm sure we've all had the notes when somebody just say, Oh, it's a bit long. And you go Okay, well, is it long? And they go well, you know, just generally
Alex Ferrari 42:45
just cut off 10 minutes, I need you to cut off
Paul Dudbridge 42:48
a generic cattle. Here's my input, right? Because anything can be shortened. But if you said, You know what, at the end of season six, when he leaves the house, I thought, there's a couple of shots there that drags. And it's like, cool. That's that's probably a good point. Let's look at that. All right, but to say, oh, is a bit long? Or I don't know, it's just it's you kind of have to go What?
Alex Ferrari 43:10
You know, it doesn't feel right. Yeah. And it's like that. See, you know, that scene, I'm just not feeling the vibe of it. I'm not getting the emotion of it. I'm like, give me something else to work with here, man, please.
Paul Dudbridge 43:25
It's important, actually, Your feedback is a big thing. Yeah, if you've got edit, you need to find a select group of people that are filmmakers that have you they've got nothing to prove that you trust their feedback. And that they have a train die. It's really important, I think, to have a train dies a really good phrase. Because otherwise, you know, you're sending I've worked in the past, I've worked with producers that haven't produced material. And they're looking at the script. And they're saying, I think this and it's like, do you know what you haven't got enough experience to justify what you're saying? You're almost repeating something that you've heard. Christopher Nolan say you've just hearing you're just repeating something because you feel you need to give some input, but you haven't done enough to base that experience on anything. And you kind of need to I think it's important to be wary of those sorts of people and, and, and just firewall just find that group of filmmakers that no film, right. I can give you some good honest feedback. It's really important
Alex Ferrari 44:35
to the one group that I've put together and it seems to have worked for me on my features is I get a screenwriter, a cinematographer, a director, and a producer. And, and that really gives you a perspective because they'll all have an editor, excuse me and an editor. So they'll look at it from a completely different point of view each of them and really give you a good rounded you know, like the DP Be like, why did you shoot that like that you should have done this or that. I'm like, but does it work? Yes, but I would have done it this way. And then the Edit was like the editor would say something, or the screenwriter was, but it really does give you a really good well rounded feedback. So it does work that works for me, as opposed to just filmmakers are great. But when you have some, like people in their specific niches, it really does help. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Paul Dudbridge 45:35
Absolutely, I think that does that. That's totally, utterly true. And also, I think it's important not to go necessarily from the opinions of those who work on the film. Oh, God, no, no, no boss, is, you know, I remember giving feedback on a movie once this is about 10 years ago. And a friend of mine, we gave some feedback. And the composer is in the room. And he walked out halfway through our feedback. And he was saying, Don't listen to the same. They're going to ruin the movie. And I was like, Yeah, but do you know the story? So when you and I say, I think I said, it's in the book where it's almost like this jigsaw puzzle 50%, you have 50% of the information because you know the story. So when you watch the movie, which is the other 50%, it makes 100%. And the story makes sense to you. I've only got 50%, which is the film, I don't have the story, I wasn't privy to the production meetings about what this means and what this person's you know, what's the meaning behind that line and what this scene is, therefore, you were so you have that information when you watch the film, and it all makes sense. But I'm view it doesn't make sense. From my point of view. I don't know why that character is doing that. The editing suggests that he saw what she was doing, when actually they didn't. And it's important to find into to find those people that are filmmakers but necessarily weren't involved in the movie, because they've seen it so many times. They story.
Alex Ferrari 47:05
I would you and also I mean, I edit my stuff, I'm assuming you do as well. But sometimes, and I've gotten a little bit more disciplined over the years is that if you're on set, and it's took you five hours to shoot a shot, and you're in the edit, and you're like, but it's not working. And somebody and I did it when I was younger, I would let things sit because I'm like, but that shot cost me 10 grand, I can't, I can't. Yeah, I can't just cut that, to get someone else's perspective, who's not involved who wasn't there, and they could look at it and just go do the shots too long when you got to cut that. But it was the crane shot that I jumped off with a steady cam and then jumped on a helicopter was great. Like, yeah, but it doesn't do anything for the story you need to move on.
Paul Dudbridge 47:51
At that time, we made a sci fi movie last year, the year before. And we had a shot. It's now a movie was a webseries. But we have a shot in there, which is an a visual effects shot that took 18 months to hertz post. The post was quite a long schedule anyway. But we're doing from start to finish it was about 18 months. And it was a plane if the plane flew over camera, and then it continued to fly. The next shot was the plane coming to view and its wing with clip the side of this building. And this glass was falling down and stuff. And then we finally got it it was and there was in the background play. For those that no visual effects. We had a crash zoom. So the the CG plane had to also be strengthened size to match the plate. Anyway, we stuck it in the edit and we went No. It just didn't work. The previous shot of the plane flying over camera was the out that was the end. And then to cut back to this plane. And it was it was painful. Because we were like yeah, but it's took 18 months. X amount of dollars. But we just kind of and then I showed it to the sound mixer, because he had seen the rough cut and the new car. And he went Oh, you've chopped the second plane shot. And I went Yeah. And I was about to go into the story of why anyway, yeah. didn't need it. And he came in straightaway and said you hated me. Yeah, that's always a painful, like VFX guys just aged about 10 years because through.
Alex Ferrari 49:23
I've gone through that with my VFX guys as well my friend, which is a great segue to your new book that just came out or is coming out really soon as of this recording coming out very soon, called making your first blockbuster. Yeah, and first of all, how that's I haven't seen that before. I haven't seen a book with that kind of title before. So I'd love to know what it's about and what inspires you to write it.
Paul Dudbridge 49:48
Okay, well basically making your first blockbuster is obviously it's is a two prong Title One is whatever your blockbuster is, so you could make in your 50 million pound movie or you could be made In your, you know, $5,000 movie or whatever it might be is your blockbuster. But basically the way I pitched it to Michael VC was I want to write the book I wish I had when I was 18. And that refers to 90 writing, producing lighting and stuff like that. But the kind of things that we were doing were making movies when I was 18. We were making action films we were trying to do explosions was running around warehouses with blank firing guns. I was doing firecrackers on the wall trying to do that stuff. And I, you know, some of it works, some of it didn't. I shot things badly. I didn't get the coverage, all of that kind of stuff. So I pitched it to Michael. And I think I really loved the email, he gave them back to me because I've said, I pitched him. And the email came back about 20 minutes later and just said, I don't like it. I love it. Let's do it. I think the lover bit was about four lines down and I was like, ah, anyway, but it was I tell the story. One of the things I tell the story in the introduction where I was when I shot this movie, I was I was 18. And I wasn't driving yet I had a friend of mine, he was driving. So I'm passing my test. And we spent the day running around this warehouse with blank firing guns. And we would like fire off these blanks. And I had this I was the in the movie because that was my back in the day when I was I think I had this pbk strapped to my chest in his gun holster running around all the rest of the all day under my jacket. And then as we finish shooting, my mate turns to me and he says, Oh, you've been driving. I've been driving around for a bit. Can I get some petrol money? And I was like, Yeah, dude, fine. Pull over to this ATM and I grab some change. So I pulled over the ATM was out of order. Of course, I had to run into the bank. So went to the bank, got some cash out, ran back to the car, which is has his engine running outside the bank. And as I get back into the car is blank firing pbk falls out of my pocket. And I've just wrapped with a loaded blank firing pistol strapped on my chest and my heart just froze. And I was like, I don't see a way out of that. I mean, I would I would I would have to say to them, Look, I we're making a film. Here's the footage. But anyway, but
Alex Ferrari 52:24
you but you were just pulling money out like legally. Yeah, you didn't rob the bank. He just walked but it didn't look good from someone looking outside. Yeah, but I mean, if the gun had fell out as I run into the bank, right? And then I kind of picked it up early, but under my jacket, CCTV would have caught. But afterwards you see this?
Paul Dudbridge 52:46
I went why. Sure. But anyway, what happened? How How to fire store and use blank firing weapons is now a chapter in the book.
Alex Ferrari 52:58
Because I don't know what happened. Did
Paul Dudbridge 53:00
anything happen? Nothing happened apart from age a few years. I a, you know, it was just one of those things. But I don't know stuff like that. And you know, I used to put firecrackers inside my Millennium Falcon Star Wars toys and trying to blow them up and how to how to make effects and how to do stuff. And so it was just all that stuff that I was trying to do as a kid that I've kind of learned how to do professionally. So I thought I would now put it into a book.
Alex Ferrari 53:27
Now. Can you give us a few tips on getting high end visual effects on a budget? Because so many so many filmmakers always are asking, Well, I'm a VFX soup as well. So I've dealt with it with in specifically in the in the indie world. So I always get this comment, they will always be this. Okay, so this shot you remember this shot in Avengers and I say stop right there. Just stop. You're making a $20,000 feature film? Yeah, stop it. Any reference you gave me to Lord of the Rings, any references give me to the matrix or Marvel? Or any Disney like 200 million. Just stop, just stop because it's not gonna happen? Because it's just like, Can we get this thing with the statue of Lipnic? No, you can't? It's no, it's No. Yeah. So how can how can filmmakers get good visual effects for a budget, especially when they're trying to you know, make a blockbuster? Well, I
Paul Dudbridge 54:31
think I really promote the idea that I think all filmmakers and directors should study and know what can be done with visual effects because first of all, it can get you out the ship a little bit. It could be something you know, painting something out, or something that you don't it's something that you think could be quite expensive might not be. But I think the first thing that I say with with people do with visual effects is is kind of look around and see how the environment works. Look at light, look at the way our eyes You know, see things look at depth, look at shading, look at hazing and just get an understanding of that. But just knowing what can be done and what can't, using sort of CG, putting small elements of CG into a live action plate, it normally looks better than, you know, the like a linebacker like a CG plate. If you're trying to do too much CG in the shot, that's when it starts to look fake, because your eyes seeing what's of, you know, all of the CG kind of computer generated stuff. Bit of misdirection, you know, it depends on what's in the shots. But if the shots on for quite a long time, the eyes got time to look around the frame. But things have moved on quite a lot. Now, there's a lot of kind of, there's a couple of companies doing pre keyed, sort of visual effects, stuff like smoke and explosions and muzzle flashes and things like that. But one of the things that me and my visual effects guy do is we're trying, the best way to make visual effects look good is to take the perfection out. So say you've got muzzle flashes, and some some shell casings flying out at the top of a gun. you animate those shell casings coming out, but maybe you see the first one. But the second one is too blurry, and it's too fast. So and then you see the third one, you only just see the second, the fourth one, etc. But what most people do is because they're putting some kind of effect shot together, they want the audience to see every step every part of it, I want to see my work. So I want you to see all four of those shells. Clearly, because I want to show off what I've done. When actually, if that was shot live, you would only see, like I said the first one, the third one may be the fourth one, the fifth one would go in the crazy direction different to the others. So you know, it could be little bits of elements to take the perfection out. And then look at color correction look at lights and darks and shadows. And another good way of doing is adding depth. Anytime I do a visual effects shot, I like to add some foreground. Because it looks like the visual effects thing that you're putting in, it could be a dinosaur, it could be an explosion, it could be anything sits better in the shot, if it's obscured in some way by something else, rather being plunked on top. So I would shoot a separate element of a side of a car or a tree or a stand or something a sign. And I could literally then place that on top of the CG shot. And it would hopefully make the CG blend a bit better.
Alex Ferrari 57:42
I would also add to that if that if you can add visual effects to a practical shot already. Meaning like if you have a gun I did. I did. One of my short films had a lot of gunplay, and I had blowback on him. So I had all the airsoft guns. Sure, so I had blowback on them to give it some reason so that practical mixed with a muzzle flash. Yeah, yeah, some lighting effects really sells it. You know, like it's it to create only fire that CG is tough. Even at the largest levels. I still remember this one shot in the rock, when I remember that car chase in the rock where the hits the the the trolley and the trot and the trolleys shoots up that CG so fake, it still drives me mad. It's even difficult at that level. But if you have some fire to extend it, would you agree? Absolutely.
Paul Dudbridge 58:42
Yeah, you're basically augmenting what's already there. Another good. Another good tip is while the same sort of adding CG into the live action rather than the live action to the CG. But also, it's never just the explosion. Like if you put a fireball in a building or something, it's the effects of that. So the side of the wall will glow. There'll be a little bit of dust that will shoot out there be a little bit rubble. But when you see an explosion on film, your eye just sees the orange fireball, when actually what makes it real is the fact that you know that that car next to it glowed a little bit orange, there's a there's a dust cloud that very softly, very faintly came towards camera. And it's those little bits where the CG element has caused some kind of effect in the shot. Whether it's a shadow or something, and it's interactive, and it joins the whole lot together.
Alex Ferrari 59:44
Yeah, like we felt like reflections are huge. Yeah. So if you have a fake, you know, a matte painting, make sure it reflects properly on on a window or in a car window or in a mirror or even on like something that's metal. Just have it that those little touches are what sell a foundational
Paul Dudbridge 1:00:02
effect. And I think that's it, it's just making that those little bits is those little elements plus taking the perfection out my my visual effects artist, we did a shot on a show where we had to film in a, in a rearview mirror of a car. And because on our on the in the UK, we are filming on the right hand side was behind the driver's seat. We couldn't do that driving. So we did it stationary. And then we had to put in the shots of what the mirror is reflecting. If you had to cut the mirror and put the ground underneath, we jumped in the back seat and filmed outside of a moving car. So the angle is the same. But when we filmed out the reverse to the back of the car, to to place in that layer of what the there was reflecting in the in the mirror, what our my visual effects guy did, he took some dirt and grime and place that over the reflected shot. So if sold it like it was a dirty car mirror. And instead of just being as crystal clear image reflecting it reflected in the car window. It was actually the image was there underneath layers of Smudge and black splotches. And, you know, no one's gonna, no one's gonna see that. But this subconsciously the eye goes, That's real because I can see some dirt.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:21
Because that's what it would look like in real life. That's how it will look like. And also back, you know, like when Jurassic Park room and when Star Wars and those kind of movies came up people who are not savvy. I mean, my wife who's not in the business will call out that's a horrible comp. Like she will say, she'll be watching, she'll be watching a big television show, or she'll be watching a movie. And she's like, that was horribly, that's a horrible greensky. Is that a greensky? That's a horrible green screen. I'm like, Wow, you've been living with me way too long. But people are much more savvy than they used to be about. And even if they don't know the terminology, like that's a bad copper, that's a bad screenplay, a green screen, they would just go Hmm, that just doesn't look right. You know, as opposed to before anything was acceptable. Yeah.
Paul Dudbridge 1:02:09
Yeah. And I think I think that's I do mentioned this in the book, actually, that I think the secret also to doing visual effects stuff. And Jurassic Park, which you mentioned did so well with this, that all of the CG was shot from ground level. Right, because that was the character's point of view, looking up at the dinosaurs. Because at that time, ILM couldn't do the camera flying around everywhere, because they couldn't do that stuff yet. He came at it from a point of view of what does Sam Neill See? What does Jeff Goldblum See, cut forward 2005 with King Kong. And you've got Kong fighting the T rex and the cameras flying up above through their legs. And it's like, the kind of the golden rule is, if the camera couldn't do that, physically, the CG camera shouldn't do. Because that's one of those things where they go, yeah, I'm being drawn out of the movie that CG, rather than that looks real, because that's what the camera would see if it was shot for real on live. Right?
Alex Ferrari 1:03:09
It's especially in something that's so practical, like, the camera goes inside of cogs nose, and then comes out like it's like, that's probably not gonna fly. That being said, What an amazing fight sequence CG. CG was awesome. Oh my god, what an amazing that movie had obscene CG. But you know, when I was doing it, you know, and it's, it's Peter Jackson with all his toys.
Paul Dudbridge 1:03:36
Back to your first question about how do you make the real? How, ask the question, how would you do this? If it was if it was live? Yeah. And if we were filming that explosion, you're filming that car, you're filming that? Even if it was a spaceship landing and hovering above whatever the you know, the roadside. If that was live, what would you do I put the camera here. It would be handheld, I would do this, I would have these people in the foreground, I'd shoot over their shoulder, etc. Right? Have that shot, write down those elements break the shot down and go right we need a background play of the road side, we need the CG ship. We need the over the shoulders of these people. So that might have to be green screen. And then you can lay the comp up, and then you can make the work. And then you know, adding those extra bits like if it's handheld that looks kind of a little bit of the moment. And like I mentioned earlier where that plane coming over we actually had a crash zoom, which caused half the problem because the CG obviously has to track that little extra spark to say this was shot live because we only just managed to grab this shot. The camera was in too close and the cameraman had to zoom out really quickly because the action was happening for real and subconsciously that comes across the cells the visual effect.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:53
Now I somewhere in in one of your books. There was a chapter title and I had to had to call you on On this because I think it would be great. What are the three secrets of filmmaking? Okay, because I would love to know.
Paul Dudbridge 1:05:09
Okay, right. Well, I hate to disappoint them nothing particularly sexy.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:13
And that's good. People always caught up with like, Oh, look at the cool Alexa with the cook lenses is like, Look, dude, just, it's that's the sexy part of the filmmaking.
Paul Dudbridge 1:05:23
Well, anytime this has come out of my teaching really, and my working in my own experiences, and working with, you know, interviewing and speaking to a lot of colleagues and things like that. So, the first thing is, is to shoot as much as you can, like, grab a camera and shoot. I know, that's a cliche, because everyone says that, but I speak to student filmmakers, they're not filming enough. They're not filming, you know, I used to, I used to shoot, you know, I used to get my camera when I was like 1314. And just plan around my bedroom. I'd filmed posters, I've done my models, I've filmed the cat, and it would just be using the kit, you know, that pan is a bit jerky. Why is the autofocus doing that? Why is the outside looking blue now. All that kind of stuff. And I would shoot and this is a good example, I say to my students, I would film my cat walking through the house and it'd be a handheld low shot. And I would spin around in front of her and all this kind of stuff. And I would know how to move the camera without necessarily looking through the eyepiece, knowing what that I was getting the shot, cut forward 20 years and the director might go Can we get a low shot of the villains feet walking in the hotel? Oh, you gotta Yeah, cuz I shot my cat 20 years ago. And it's and it's just about filming as much as you can. And, you know, if you've got this short film idea that maybe, I mean, I know Rodriguez used to say this. But you know, say your parents own a flower shop. But that's not on Sunday, make a short film 10 minutes long about a flower shop. And you have two actors. And we're going to, we're going to film it is now early January, we're going to film it end of March. So we've got three months to write the script, find the actors, I'm going to make this movie by summer, it's going to be caught and it's going to be into festivals. And it's just people aren't making enough. And I think you need to know kit, you need to know focus, you need to know what storytelling is. and shooting helps you do that. The second thing is to read god, yes. I'm obviously coming from a point of view of being an author. It's kind of like, Summa, but
Alex Ferrari 1:07:27
but not just read, but just not read film books and screenwriting books read about life, about every genre in the world.
Paul Dudbridge 1:07:34
All of that. So I make a joke why I started reading when I was 25. properly. I was reading before that, just
Alex Ferrari 1:07:41
Me too. Me too. I didn't read a whole heck of a lot till I was like maybe late 20s.
Paul Dudbridge 1:07:47
No, I didn't read in school I didn't read. But then I started reading when I was 25. And I started reading psychology books, business books, filmmaking, spelling books, which you're going to come on to all this kind of stuff. But I would read you know, I'm self taught, I didn't go to film school. So I'm completely self taught, I found a cinematography book in a bookshop here. And I picked it up. And it was a lot to do with film and a lot to do with light meters. And I didn't know any of that stuff. But then I just bought more books, editing books, directing books, writing books, you know, the classics, Rodriguez's store, you know, story, all that stuff. And just read, read read. And it's funny, when I go to colleagues houses, I've got a few cameramen that I know are in their 60s and 70s. And you go to their study and what's behind the study, wall and wall of books, cinematography books, autobiographies, you know, script writing books, there's all there. And it's all that wealth of knowledge at your fingertips and no one buys the books to read and this is just a wasted resource. So that's what I push. And then the third thing is something called Get your shit together. Okay, which is basically get your shit together covers everything about you. So that's your timekeeping says, emails, dress and appearance, areas you need to improve on and things like that, because we talked about politics before but it's like, I'm not particularly strong. You know, my, my, my writing skills is got better recently obviously with the books but you know, my spelling Isn't that great? My grammar isn't that great. So when are bought books on grammar? You know how to write you know, you don't want to write that email to the publishing company or that dp you want to work with, and you listen to spelling errors, or you spell his name wrong. I've had that before. I've had writers write to me and they spelt the room project wrong. And it doesn't, it doesn't look good. It's not professional. It's not professional and timekeeping, turning up late and there's basically no excuse for anything. I had a student once who was coming to say we're shooting this short horror film, and we're filming at nine o'clock. On a Saturday morning, and she says, I've never seen this before. It's brilliant. She turned up on time. And then I found out she drove to set the day before. Just to find out where it was. Like, that's so simple. But I've had other students that are calling me at quarter past call time, quarter past nine going, my Sat Nav, my, you know, told me down the wrong road, I was stuck in traffic. I'm not where I am, I'm trying to direct and I'm and I've got a student on the phone. I'm trying to direct her as well or him. And that should have going, I'm going to find out where it is. I'm going to get up earlier and allow for the traffic. I mean, what other things as well as like, dress and appearance how you appear on set in our camera system once we're filming in a basement, July for about four people.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:57
or seven people in there. And the kids thinks he hasn't he hadn't showered. Yep. Yep, I've had I've been there. I've been there.
Paul Dudbridge 1:11:06
It's a focus puller. I'm right next to him. And then halfway through the day he goes, I'm just going to pop outside for a five
Alex Ferrari 1:11:13
minute bar. By the way, everyone talking effect is a cigarette, a cigarette.
Paul Dudbridge 1:11:19
And then he's breathing cigarette smoke on me. Oh, you know, he's it's all this kind of thing where you're going, dude, you're not helping yourself here? What's going on?
Alex Ferrari 1:11:27
I'll never hire that person again. Is he good? He might be fantastic. But he's thinks he thinks it's a camera isn't calibrated and TP coming up for an hour. So where can people find these resources, these amazing resources out there your books?
Paul Dudbridge 1:11:48
Amazon's the best place. Okay. Yeah. And I think in the States has Barnes and Noble. But
Alex Ferrari 1:11:55
anywhere books are sold pretty much Padme. Anywhere books are sold pretty much.
Paul Dudbridge 1:11:59
Yeah. Anywhere that books are sold. And I think it's just I don't know. I mean, I didn't do it. There's no sort of great deal of money involved. I just wanted to kind of give something back. And I think one of the best things I've ever had, I had to come off a plane once I turned my phone on. And there was a student in a place good. Burlington, New Jersey, yeah, found my book in a library. And she took a picture of it. And she tagged me in it. And she said, I've got this to read for the weekend. And I was just like, Oh my God, that's, that's amazing. I don't even know where that place is. I don't even know who you are. But she's got the book. Hopefully she gets something from it. That's great. Yeah. And it was also that was the biggest reward I've ever had.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:40
That's it is it's really it's it is really rewarding when you put out work, and it reaches people that you have no idea how it got there. And with this podcast, I mean, it goes around the world, and I get emails from countries that can't even pronounce. And it's wonderful that that the work that we do, and this interview will be listened to by by 1000s of people around the world that will I just it's fascinating to me. But the first thing is you just have to do the work. Get it out there. And the universe will take care of the rest.
Paul Dudbridge 1:13:14
Yes. But when it comes back and someone says, oh, I've now learned this, yes, because a podcast. I've now just made my film here, or I've now got this released. That's that you can't put a price on that. And anyone that's not done. It can't understand that very well. They haven't had that feeling of what that means when someone say hey, you know, I was thinking like giving up but then I read your thing, or, you know, I was insecure about which direction to go in. And then I heard your podcast and so and so. And it's just like there is no you can't put a price on that.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:47
You can't and I tell you once you feel it, it's addictive as hell. Yeah. It's like once you start you're just like I want to keep I like this feeling. I'm just gonna keep going down this road. So now I'm gonna ask you a quick a few quick questions. I asked all my guests. I'm kind of like a fire a rapid fire questions. So first thing that comes into your head. What advice would you give filmmakers wanting to break into the business today? We'll shoot as much as you can. Okay. My three secrets shooting read, shoot, read and in wash yourself. hygiene, hygiene, hygiene. Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?
Paul Dudbridge 1:14:29
I'll tell you there was two. Okay, I'd like to have to choose ones for related and one's not what I said I started reading when I was 25. My sister bought me a book called the road a road less traveled. Yeah, it's great book. It's awesome. And it was one of those things where every single page I was like, Oh my god, that was brilliant. Oh, yes.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:49
Oh, that's so crazy. That's amazing feeling when you read a book like that you're like, this author gets me I my mind is blown.
Paul Dudbridge 1:14:56
It was and literally I could sense offer with that. Book, my brain, my approach, my thinking just shifted. I saw things differently. I was what I could see objectively, I could see other people's opinions, he was just completely opened up. And like, I couldn't believe it. And then that led me on to read more psychology books. And obviously all that infers your writing and infers your directing of actors and what makes that performance work and all that kind of stuff, because you're understanding human nature and psychology. The other book was the classic ventures in the screen trade, Goldman, Goldman's book, and I had my college, my grant, who's a better mentor to me, and he was an older student, and he's a dude, you got to read this. And I read it, and I broke the back of the spine broke everything, so I just read it all the time. But it became such a Bible for me about what you know, is acceptable, what how you can approach things, what you know, just to understand, even just from a confidence point of view, just to hear an established writer, say, I struggle with this, or that I had a problem with the scene, or I could never crack this character or something, but just tools and approaches. And that was the beginning. That was the first film but that I got, which they then went right, what else do I need to buy? Who else who was this guy that wrote the book, watch his movies, you know? And then I bought all this other stuff as well. So those are the two books.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:23
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Paul Dudbridge 1:16:29
Okay, the who someone is, who they are, how they behave, that writing is on the wall extremely early. Trust that inner gut says, I don't think we're going to pull for you, I don't think you're going to deliver. I don't trust you. There's something about you, I can't quite put my finger on but, and in it nine and a half times out of 10. I've been right with that. And I've second guessed it, I've dismissed it. I've put it aside. And I've said that you know, even down to I've been on set on the first day and the producer and the makeup. People a bit late, and I'm so sorry, I'm stuck in traffic and Okay, cool. And we start the day late. They are stuck in traffic. And then the second day they're late, and then the third day they're late. And then the fifth day they're late. And you see that as a pattern. And it's like was it traffic? Or was it them? So that first I think Malcolm Gladwell because I like thin slicing equals It was like that first impression you get, and just to trust that trust that gut.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:35
And a more difficult question. Three of your favorite films of all time.
Paul Dudbridge 1:17:39
Okay. It's all they're all from. They're all from my childhood, I think. So the first one that really got me into movies, I think, probably be Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:53
Okay, yes. I saw that in the theater. It was so amazing.
Paul Dudbridge 1:17:59
I love the time. And I just couldn't articulate how it made me feel I look at the photos, I'd get the poster magazine. And I would look at the images and I'd be like, I can't take my eyes off these images. What is it about these images and now I look at it now and I know that it's there's a bit of diffusion. There's Amber, there's some amber backlights. It's the depth it's this is the colors is the textures, and all of that. And I remember as well, there was a little bit of the behind the scenes in the poster magazine where it say, Indiana Jones steps off of Venice harbor walks into the library. And we shot that in, in a studio in our street in London. So he goes from Venice to London, in a blink of an eye. And in my head. I was like what? How does that never that didn't How would that work though, because his costume would have to be exactly the same. Exactly. And my brain started to open up to the way that movies are made. Got it. And it was just one of those things where I'm like, I can't, you know, go past it. Back to the Future is probably another one.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:11
Paul Dudbridge 1:19:12
Because of I mean, I love the director Robert Zemeckis, but I remember watching it on like the 100th time or something. And he's racing towards the clock tower. I realized that my heart was racing. But I knew the ending.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:28
That's a good movie. That's a good movie.
Paul Dudbridge 1:19:31
So this, perhaps someone snuck in my bedroom, swap the copies over. So now they've replaced it with a version where he doesn't make it. How am I still? How am I still emotionally invested of the outcome
Alex Ferrari 1:19:44
Or crying, or crying at a scene or something like that, that you know what happened and then you know, it's coming.
Paul Dudbridge 1:19:50
Yeah. And it's like, how is that even possible? So Back to the Future was a big, you know, a big relief for me. What else is that? Well I suppose there is the classics I mean like Star Wars as well as suddenly because of you know, and then I'm going to go past the three here but there's things like Star Wars drastic Park and things like that where you kind of go wow. But I think another one for me actually was probably the Shawshank Redemption
Alex Ferrari 1:20:18
Oh, you were right. I was about to say and Shawshank.
Paul Dudbridge 1:20:22
I will tell you what, for sure saying we're talking about editing. I remember being in the cinema. Yeah, I watched it. And I looked at my watch, and there was only half an hour left. And I remember being upset.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:36
Yeah, and that's a perfect example of a movie that I've seen. I can't even tell you how many times I've seen that movie. Anytime it's on TV. I just sit there and watch it. We all know how it's gonna end. We all know what's happening. But yet, when it happens, it's just so beautiful. It's just one of those movies that is that movies is perfect of a movie, you know, up there with the Godfather or something like that. It's just like one of those films that just it's just perfection. The what what Darabont did, it's absolute perfection what he was able to accomplish? And about, by the way, where can people find you and the work that you're doing?
Paul Dudbridge 1:21:15
Okay, well, my website is pulled average.com. My Twitter handle is at Hanover pictures that spelled h a n o v e r p i c t u r e s. So yeah, that's Twitter and Instagram. I think Paul_dudbridge. But yeah, all those links should be on my website. Yeah, and the books are on Amazon. So that's where you can find my work.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:43
And Paul, I know we can talk for at least another two or three hours. comfortably, I can see that I've actually had to cut questions out because we just have such a great time talking. And there's so many great knowledge bombs that you were dropping in this episode. So I want to appreciate I want to thank you. And I appreciate you, you dropping all those knowledge bombs for the tribe today. So thanks again for your time, brother,
Paul Dudbridge 1:22:04
Alex, thanks for having me. It's been great.
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