Directing Isn’t About Controlling Everything, But Learning When to Let Go

IndieWire | 5/17/2018 | Staff
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Editor’s Note: Matthew Porterfield is an independent filmmaker who has made four feature films, including “Hamilton,” “Putty Hill,” and “I Used To Be Darker,” which have screened at Sundance, the Berlinale, SXSW, and the Whitney Biennial. His films are all set in his hometown of Baltimore, where now teaches at the Film and Media Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University.

Porterfield’s new film “Sollers Point” – which is being distributed by Oscilloscope Laboratories and opening in New York this Friday – tells the story of Keith (McCaul Lombardi), a twenty-four-year-old newly released from prison and living with his father (Jim Belushi) under house arrest in Baltimore. IndieWire recently ask Porterfield to share with our readers what he learned making his fourth feature.

Movies - Vision - Project - Extent - Seed

When I began making movies, I imagined I’d work best when I had it all figured out. I thought it required unwavering vision to carry a project through from beginning to end. To a certain extent it’s true: the seed of an idea is nurtured and grows exponentially with the amount of energy it’s given. But what I’ve learned over time, and with each new project, is that filmmaking is as much about letting go as it is about asserting control. Along the way, from casting through location scouting and during the shoot itself, I’m presented with variables that require flexibility, a willingness to bend, and an openness to new possibilities.

I wrote my new film “Sollers Point” with a thirty-eight year-old actor in mind for the lead. Then I came across a twenty-five year-old named McCaul Lombardi. We met and connected instantly, the way that actors and directors sometimes do, and I rewrote the script for him. Keith, played by McCaul, changed the tone of the film entirely, and for the better. Sometimes you write a script for a particular...
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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