… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1651: David Weil on Directing.

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Directing is exhausting, exhilarating and incredibly focused.

Uzo Aduba and David Weil on the set of Solos (Photo by Jason LaVeris)

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This article, written by Jim Hemphill, first appeared in FilmmakerMagazine.com. This is a summary.

Solos is an anthology series, directed by David Weil, in which each episode features a single actor—sometimes giving a straight monologue, sometimes conversing with an offscreen voice or electronic device, in one instance (an extraordinary episode starring Anthony Mackie) talking to his own double—Solos is a master class in minimalist filmmaking for maximum philosophical effect.

After serving as showrunner for Hunters on Amazon, Weil makes his directorial debut on three of the episodes, exhibiting a control and confidence in his framing and direction of actors that distills the show’s complex conceptual premises into intensely personal and intimate conversations between the characters and the audience.

The show drops on Prime Video on May 21; Hemphill spoke with Weil by phone a few weeks before the premiere to ask about the series’ origins and his experience as a first-time director.

Filmmaker: As a first-time director there are a lot of creative risks [in Solos], in the sense that you want to keep it visually dynamic but not get too show-offy or distract from the performances — easier said than done on episodes that take place in one room.

Weil: It’s incredibly difficult. I think when we cast these incredible actors, it all became about protecting the performances and allowing the audience to access them without feeling encumbered by flashy camera movements or glaring set design. Everything was really to serve the reality and the truth of the performances, because at the end of the day, those are what capture us for these 20 to 30 minutes.

Filmmaker: The performances are great across the board, and I’m curious if working with Al Pacino on Hunters taught you anything about working with actors that informed your work on Solos.

Weil: Working with Al Pacino taught me everything—about art, and directing, and writing, and approaching and supporting actors. First of all, his commitment is unparalleled. He taught me to really listen, because he has the most incredible instincts and impulses and ideas—I learned to let him express all that and then create an environment where he would feel supported in his process. So, coming into Solos, my first question to the actors was always, “What works best for you? How can I support you?”

Filmmaker: Were there any challenges that surprised you?

Weil: Before directing, I never truly understood just how exhausting and taxing the filmmaking process is, even though I’ve been a writer and a showrunner.

EXTRA CREDIT

The entire article, which is far longer, is well worth reading as it goes into depth on each episode and David’s approach to directing and how he worked with his actors.


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