Features and Columns · Movies

Filmmaking Tips from the Marvel Directors

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

Over the span of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there have been 18 films divided up into 3 phases, directed by 15 different individuals. While they’ve all essentially worked toward an overarching story, each director has carried his own personal vision to his film and characters, along with some level of success for having done so.

Below we’ve compiled an epic list of 15 tips, one each from all of the MCU directors through Avengers: Infinity War. Yeah, this week we’ve got a lot of advice to share.

Spend Time as an Actor

Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2) had these words of wisdom to share in an interview with Tribeca Talks: Director’s Series recapped by Project Casting in 2017:

“Acting is the closest thing you’ll get to an apprenticeship for directing because you’re actually on set watching the director do what they do. When you go to school for directing, you rarely have the luxury of actually shadowing and watching someone else who’s doing it well. But because I was on so many sets, I got to learn whose style I liked.”

Get more filmmaking tips from Jon Favreau.

Louis Letterier And Edward Norton

Get the Avatar Blu-ray

Although Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) attended film school, in a 2010 interview with The Playlist (available via IndieWire), he remarks that listening to commentaries and watching behind the scenes videos really helped him grow as a director, and he advises aspiring filmmakers to do the same.

“The new ‘Avatar’ BluRay is a lesson in filmmaking. It really is inspiring… I feel that [Electronic Press Kits] can be kind of boring but these EPKs in the ‘Avatar’ set are absolutely amazing. If I was not a filmmaker this Blu-ray would have made me want to become a director… Anybody that wants to be a filmmaker or that is a filmmaker should own this Blu-ray and watch it over and over and over again. I am, and I’m learning every day.

Let Your Actors Do Their Thing

Sometimes being a director involves stepping aside and letting your actors’ instinctual creativity show through, as Kenneth Branagh (ThorBranagh told Deadline while promoting Murder on the Orient Express in 2017:

“With a group of actors like this, one smart thing for the director to do is to get out of the way, and just try and capture the bare first instincts because their intuitions are going to be so strong and so creative—and so they were. But you have to be ready for them. These people are so ready to go that preparation was all, in terms of getting to a point where you could then reach lift-off and hope for that sort of creative surprise—that spontaneous, improvisational quality underneath formal material.”

Get more filmmaking tips from Kenneth Branagh.

Joe Johnston And Chris Evans

Use Digital Effects with Caution

Gauging an appropriate amount of digital effects for your film is necessary in the modern world, as Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avengers) mentions in a 2014 interview with Yahoo Entertainment:

“Any visual effect that helps tell a better story is a good thing. When effects shout at the audience, “look at this brilliant effect!” I go out for popcorn. I don’t know if we miss practical effects specifically, but I think we miss some of the inherent charm in them. Digital effects have made it possible to put anything you can imagine on a movie screen, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

Just Do It

After making Much Ado About NothingJoss Whedon told MTV News in 2013(The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron) saw that filmmaking is easier than it used to be. He :

“My advice is the obvious advice: just do it, and do it for yourself. Don’t worry about anything other than what you want to say…When I started, you wrote something and you worked your way into a system that already existed. Now, people are creating the system, they’re defining itself. The field is wide open. That kind of freedom…anybody can do it.”

Get more filmmaking tips from Joss Whedon.


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