I’ll try not to take over Marie’s AMA (I’m in here because she’s one of my favorite people and I wanted to support her [that’s a lie I wanted to see her fail]) but:
Before anything, I send Marie scripts. Often, I have ideas – sometimes very specifically, sometimes vague – but after we both read them, we sit down together and we talk over our individual visions. I really like giving talented people room to change the project I’m directing/writing – they’re there to bring their art to my project, not to listen to my every command, so, in our conversation, Marie and I develop a style we’re going for.
Separately, I also have this conversation with my director of photography. Then, the three of us meet and hash it all out. Marie tells me, “we can’t afford that” I say, “I know, but can you though?” and she’s like. “Ugh, shut up.” And then she makes it happen because she’s super good at her job – more on this in a second.
The process varies a lot depending on what the project is. When did an 8 episode series that I also wrote, I had a lot of visual ideas for what I wanted, so in that situation, I showed Marie and my DP a lot of pinterest photos of films that I was impressed with and wanted our show to feel like. That show had a month of prepro, so we really had a chance to dig in. Other times, on smaller projects, it’s honestly a very quick conversation – “I’m seeing it like this and this and this” – “Me too.” or “What about this and this and this?” - “Okay, let’s do it.”
And then, I trust Marie to make things happen. She’ll show me examples, of course, send me thoughts, text me photos, etc., and it comes together.
As far as Marie and gamechanging, it’s a few things:
I trust her completely. We’ve worked long enough together that I think she knows what my style is and she plays to it. She’s got a similar sense of humor, so I absolutely love it when she finds jokes in the PD (I love that kind of stuff) that I never thought of. The trust is important, it means once we’ve settled on the idea, I don’t need to worry or think about it anymore, I can trust her to get it handled.
Marie is a perfectionist and has visible anxiety when she doesn’t like a set or a prop or whatever. To the point where I’ll have to be like, MARIE I ACTUALLY LIKE THIS IT’S OKAY. But she’s the kind of person who’ll switch out a couch in the middle of the night because the one she got is driving her crazy. She’s tireless and committed and every project we do together doesn’t feel like – oh, it’s my project and I hired Marie, it feels like it’s her art piece as well (even when it’s dumb cat videos) and that’s one of the reasons I hire her literally for every project she’s available for.
In fact, the last two years, I think I’ve primarily hired her, and if she says no I might be at a total loss.
She’s great at scrounging and coming up with low-cost ideas for big set pieces. There’s a reason our stuff looks competitive with higher budget series – it’s because Marie (and other department heads) manage to scrounge with the best of them.
She’s awesome and I thoroughly enjoy being on set with her. In a stressful situation like filmmaking, that’s such a big deal,