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Sam Mendes Has Advice for Directors

posted by Nell Minow

Director Sam Mendes (“Skyfall,” “American Beauty”) has some advice for directors.  In accepting an award, he listed 25 recommendations that are well worth reading.  Some are particular to his profession (“If you have the chance, please work with Dame Judi Dench.” “Theater is the writer’s medium and the actor’s medium; the director comes a distant third. If you want a proper ego trip, direct movies.”)  But most of them are good reminders for whatever path your life takes.  Here are some of my favorites:

Always choose good collaborators. It seems so obvious, but the best collaborators are the ones who disagree with you. It means they’re passionate, they have opinions, and they’ll only ever say yes if they mean it.

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Try to learn how to make the familiar strange, and the strange familiar. Direct Shakespeare like it’s a new play, and treat every new play as if it’s Shakespeare.

Confidence is essential, but ego is not.

You are never too old to learn something new, as I reminded myself, I learned to ski with my 10-year-old son, of course, who did it in about 10 minutes, and I spent four days slaloming up and down, looking like a complete tit. But, don’t be scared of feeling like a complete tit. It’s an essential part of the learning process.

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