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Read Ava DuVernay’s letter to a first time filmmaker and collect advice for your feature

Read Ava DuVernay’s letter to a first time filmmaker and collect advice for your feature

I’ve said it many times before through the newsletter or here, Ava DuVernay changed my life and the way I think of my career with her first keynote speech at Film Independent in 2013. So it came as little surprise to me to see her grow and build her career the way she said she would, and become one of the most prolific filmmaker, from Netflix to Disney and OWN, being vocal about topics that matter and following her flow such as hiring an all-women directorial team for her show Queen Sugar.

It is also no surprise that DuVernay would email a young filmmaker seeking advice before shooting her first feature film and would then share the letter with everyone, for us all to benefit from her knowledge. DuVernay replied with a list of thoughts presented as bullet points, 14 in total.

You can see her tweet right below, and discover a reproduction of the letter right after. Enjoy:

Ava DuVernay’s Letter

+ Know your crew members by name. They are the lifeblood of your film.

+ Remember that actors and crew are the same. Grown-ups. Treat them all with the same grown folks respect. No one is better than anyone else just because they’re in front of the camera.

+ Change your socks at lunch makes you feel like a new woman

+ Don’t let your actors watch playback. Your job is to watch them so that they don’t watch themselves. Their job is to portray real life.

+ Never tell an actor it was good when it wasn’t.

+ Never line read an actor

+ Never block without an actor if you can help it.

+ When blocking, have a plan in mind before you begin if you can.

+ Be prepared for hundreds of questions per day. You are now Question Answerer and Chief.

+ Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer. You don’t have to know all the answers to everything. More than half of people’s job is to help you find the answers.

+ Hydrate throughout the day.

+ Laugh and keep a warm atmosphere. We’re making movies not splitting the atom.

+ Remind yourself why you’re telling this story every morning on the way to set. Why it’s important to you. What you want to say. Every morning.

+ Knock it out of the fucking park.

xo,

A.