Directors Round Table: Nicole Holofcener on gut instinct


The trouble with making movies is that you have to start over each time — with a new script, a new cast and a new set of challenges. According to six of Hollywood’s top directors, that’s part of the process but also part of the point.

At the Envelope Directors Round Table, filmmakers Paul Greengrass (“Captain Phillips”), Nicole Holofcener (“Enough Said”), John Lee Hancock (“Saving Mr. Banks”), J.C. Chandor (“All Is Lost”), Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and Spike Jonze (“Her”) talked about what they’ve learned making movies and which lessons they’d pass on to future generations.

“Every time you make a film, you always get to the end and go, ‘Well, now if I could make the film again, of course I’d know what I was doing,’” Greengrass said. “There’s always a lag between what you discover during the making of the film and what you didn’t know when you started. … But that’s the maddening paradox of filmmaking: Each film is a journey, or should be, toward something you don’t know. Otherwise, why do it?”


VIDEO: See the full Q&A with Spike Jonze, Steve McQueen and more

Holofcener chimed in with her own experience. “When I was in film school, I was taught to know what every scene is about and why that scene is there and what each character in that scene wants — and that killed the process for me,” she said. “I did feel like by the time I got to 60 cards up, with everything nailed down like that, I was so bored and I would never finish a script that way. … And so I stopped outlining and just kind of started writing. And it was a messier process and a scarier process, but it’s my process. I’m now used to it.”

She added, “Ultimately, you’re going to hear a million voices, and you have to still listen to your own and your gut.”

Hancock agreed. “You’ve got to find that best version of you as a director,” he said. “And that can take a little while and some soul searching. That’s not to say you can’t learn from other people and you shouldn’t get as much experience as you can, but I think when you become content with what you bring to the table and what pleases you and what movie you want to make, there’s great power in that.”

For more from the Directors Round Table, watch the full video above and check back for daily highlights.



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