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6 Filmmaking Tips From The Coen Brothers

By Cole Abaius

If It’s Cheap Enough, Everyone’s a Winner

When asked by an interviewer about Fargo‘s potential lack of appeal:

“Yeah, but then again, we knew the movie’s cost would be so cheap, that it’d be hard to lose. So we thought that, okay, maybe it wouldn’t be a huge, big commercial hit, but for $6 million…,” said Ethan. “Who cares?”

Your First Cut Will Probably Make You Want To Kill Yourself

“I can almost set my watch by how I’m going to feel at different stages of the process. It’s always identical, whether the movie ends up working or not. I think when you watch the dailies, the film that you shoot every day, you’re very excited by it and very optimistic about how it’s going to work. And when you see it the first time you put the film together, the roughest cut, is when you want to go home and open up your veins and get in a warm tub and just go away. And then it gradually, maybe, works its way back, somewhere toward that spot you were at before,” – Joel.

First Impressions Matter

The Coen Brothers with Noah Baumbach: Where and How to Begin a Film?

Don’t Be Afraid to Offend

“‘Taste,’ says Joel, ‘has never been something we’ve worried about.’ ‘We’re not big on taste,’ agrees Ethan…Granted, being serious-minded filmmakers helps when you layer on the insulting comedy, but context is king.

Take Care of Your Filmmaking Family

This list of frequent collaborators proves that the Coen Brothers might be an absurd example, but if you find people you love and love working with, why not keep them close? You might just meet your wife in the process…

Find people that want to do something on set that you’re not good at/interested in and team up. Create a partnership and a collaboration because talent sharpens talent and you might discover a combination that can last for decades.

Hold Editing in High Regard

Sometimes scripts are called blueprints that the director uses to build the film, but if the metaphor is true, it’s actually the editor that builds the movie from the materials delivered by the director’s team of construction workers. When it’s a movie about construction workers, the metaphor gets even more meta.

The Coens have edited all their films as Roderick Jaynes, showing a clear premium on doing the work themselves. The tip here shouldn’t necessarily be to edit your own work – because there are many iconic filmmakers who don’t – but the overarching rule is to appreciate editors. The audience may not care who is cutting your mess together, but you should.

Read the full article, watch the interviews

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(via fuckyeahdirectors)