Directorial Debuts

Johnny Depp

Wally Pfister is a name that might not be known by everyone, but he’s certainly an artist whose work everyone has seen. Pfister has been working as a camera operator since the late ’80s, and has regularly been getting gigs as a Director of Photography since the early 2000s. He is, however, primarily known as the DP that Christopher Nolan uses on all his features. This is the guy who shot Memento, who got nominated for cinematography Oscars for Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight, and who finally won one for Inception. To say that he knows how to shoot a scene would be a bit of an understatement. But now he’s ready to take a more hands on approach to all of the other aspects of filmmaking, by taking his first crack at directing a feature. His first project, Transcendence, comes from a script by newcomer Jack Paglen and has been developed by Straight Up Films. Any details as to what the film is about are being kept tightly under wraps, but what isn’t being treated like a secret is the big name actor who they’ve snagged to star.


Pacino, Moore, and Renner

It was all the way back in June of last year that we first heard about Dan Fogelman’s Imagine, a movie he plans to tackle as both writer and director. Imagine was said to be a story about an aging rock star who gets inspired to reconnect with his estranged son after receiving a posthumous letter from John Lennon, and the rumor at the time was that Al Pacino was being courted to star. Well, here we are, a year and some change later, and not only has Pacino’s casting solidified, but it turns out he’s brought a couple of other big names along with him. And, in addition to that, new reports give us a little bit more of an idea what this story is all about. According to Deadline Hollywood, in addition to Pacino playing the aging rocker who’s still out there on the road playing all of his old songs, Fogelman has recruited Jeremy Renner to play the part of the adult son, as well as Julianne Moore to play the part of a hotel manager Pacino’s character befriends. Now, about that letter from John Lennon. The additional story bits here are that it was originally meant for a 19-year-old version of Pacino’s character, who had written to his music hero. Unfortunately, the letter was lost in the mail for decades, and delivered its words of wisdom quite a bit too late to get the guy’s life on the right track. All is not yet lost, however, […]


Bill Hicks

Though his acting career is seemingly still going along swimmingly (he’s got roles in The Man With the Iron Fists, Les Misérables, Man of Steel, and Noah coming up), Australian (by way of New Zealand) superstar Russell Crowe has decided that the time has finally come for him to dip his toe into the world of directing. Which makes sense, the guy has his own band, did you really think it was going to be long before he started making his own movies? So, what’s the project that’s gotten Crowe’s attention and inspired him to make his debut in the director’s chair? A script about the life of legendary standup comedian Bill Hicks. An exploration of the comedian’s fast-burn life and career already came to the big screen in the form of a 2009 documentary called American: The Bill Hicks Story, but Crowe’s interest in Hicks stems from a treatment he heard all the way back in 2008 by his former classmate and screenwriter Mark Staufer.


The Best Short Films

Why Watch? In 2007, Kate Hudson made her first movie as a director (complete with a Humble Pie reference), and the free spirit of youth and antique love is on full display. Kristen Stewart‘s best work might also be on display. She and Dakota Fanning play young girls discovering true desire, but instead of dumb boys, they’re swooning over a classic car and a sweet guitar. Virginia Madsen and Kurt Russell play a father and mother (each responding to their offspring’s Must Have Mentality), and the whole simple story plays out with the tension that comes naturally from needing something badly without knowing if you’ll get it. It’s something anyone who has ever had to haggle over the price of something they’re pretending not to care about knows. Hudson and company capture the sentiment well – the heart of it residing in Stewart’s eyes as she first spots a shiny Cutlass with a price tag on it and the sun rays flood in. Nostalgia and bad ass chicks. Nothing wrong with either. What will it cost? Only 13 minutes. Skip Work. You’ve Got Time For More Short Films



It’s really a shame. One of the positive by-products of the studio system’s reluctance to hire strong, visioned directors has been a decent uptick in actors and writers stepping into the director’s chair. They’re being welcomed, and those uninterested in the mainstream are also putting their own blood, sweat, and financing into making art their own way. Sadly, not all projects will make it through. According to Cinema Blend, that’s the story with Ewan McGregor‘s directorial debut – a story about a 1968 yacht race. Apparently someone else got to the idea (legally) before he did. In a statement to Nylon Guys Magazine, the actor said, “My wife was going to design it, I wasn’t going to be in it. And then I found out someone else is doing it. I was gutted.” I find myself gutted, too, because McGregor is the kind of talent that seems like he could beautifully translate to the language behind the camera. Fortunately, this isn’t the end of the story. This particular project might be gone (or it might always return…), but McGregor is intent on finding a solid subject matter and taking his first turn calling out “Action!”. Hopefully he finds something worthwhile soon.



It’s almost always a toss-up when an actor turns to directing, but there have been just as many truly incredible success stories as forgotten failures. However, something about Meg Ryan‘s acting career makes me believe she’ll be a strong director. She’s known for romantic comedies, sure, but she’s also been surrounded by a lot of different story styles (from Joe vs The Volcano to The Doors), and some insanely talented directors (from Rob Reiner to Nora Eprhon to Oliver Stone), so it would be almost impossible for anyone to avoid picking up some directing pointers. We’ll find out how many pointers she picked up when she directs Into the Beautiful, a movie scant on plot details right now except that it involves a group of friends reuniting. According to Variety, this is the movie Ryan will make her first directorial mark on. It’s unclear whether this was the mystery project she was talking about at Cannes a year ago (some speculated it was a drama called Little Black Train), but Forrest Gump and Devil Wears Prada producer Wendy Finerman (who was also attached to Little Black Train) will be helping the project along.



With any luck, he’ll run his set with National Socialist-like precision.


Macy Set for Directorial Debut

After over 100 film and television appearances and almost a dozen writing gigs, William H. Macy is taking his turn behind the camera. And he’s convinced Milla Jovovich to play an ex-stripper. Pretty good for a first-timer.

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published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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