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Wedding Crashers came out at a time when people weren't doing lots of sequels. We did come up with a great take. Vince, Owen and myself sat around at Owen's house one day and broke the story. It was really really funny. We wanted Daniel Craig to be the ultimate wedding crasher, with his sexy body and his speedo, and the two guys would be incredibly threatened by him. He was like the next generation terminator of wedding crashing.
Owen's brilliant. I've made two movies with him. He always has an incredibly astute sense of the screenplay and the characters since he's such a great writer. He's also a great performer. He has an incredible imagination... is always able to put himself into the scene and play things very realistically, while also knowing where the comedy is. It's always a pleasure.
One of the fun things that happened when we were filming Wedding Crashers was watching Owen and Vince disagree about scenes. They would kind of argue their way to a truce, almost. But those arguments became very much the banter of what the scenes became. So working with both of them in real life was like working with their characters.
I love them both so I don't have a preference. And I do direct them both the same way. I think with a comedy, you're paying attention to the set up and delivery of jokes, so there's an extra ball in the air in the juggling act.
But, I still direct all my comedies from a dramatic place. I expect the characters to really be going through what they're actually going through, so I kind of rehearse and execute them the same way I execute drama.
David also directed Jackie Chan in Shanghai Knights.
Yes. It's an incredible thing to watch. He popped his ankle out one day while jumping onto a boat in a scene for Shanghai Knights. He designs and choreographs his action scenes the way Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire would choreograph a dance sequence. The Ideas flow out of him in real time, and we actually had to chase him around with a film crew to adapt to what he was thinking up.
One of the things that was really amazing was watching him use sleight of hand. He understands what the camera sees, what the camera doesn't see, and understands how it's going to be entertaining for an audience to watch him do what he does. He's a bit of a magician...as well as a stuntman.
They're not only helpful - they're essential. You're making a movie for an audience, so you have to put your movie in front of them and see how they respond. You learn so much from that test, and then you get the opportunity to go back and make adjustments.
You get the opportunity to know where the pacing slowed down and needs to be sped up, know where there were chuckles when there should have been big laughs, and make those adjustments so that you get those laughs working the right way with the comedy and the motions all lined up properly. I try to do as many test screenings as possible.
For me, it was when I was seven years old and I got to go see Star Wars. I had this incredible experience of being transported to a place I'd never been. I was seeing this incredible mythology of a young man, who didn't know his father, who was being handed his sword and being told that there was this force that binds the universe together, that we're all related, and that there's a way to plug into that force and be able to do things that you couldn't imagine you could do. He was being told that there were creatures and worlds out there that were real and seemed real, that we never imagined.
All that was just such a trans-formative experience to me, and I wanted to be a part of that in some way, shape, or form. I was a big storyteller on my own as a kid and used to make up stories all the time. I went into the business as a writer, and slowly found myself in the director's chair.
There was a Sonic Youth "Make Your Own Video At Home" contest that happened in 1992. I had some short ends leftover from my thesis film at NYU. So I took that little bit of film and I shot the video in my house and in my backyard in Santa Monica. I shot it, cut it, and put it together.
When I sent it to MTV, my submission as rejected for being too professional. I was of course really bummed out, but put it on my reel. Eventually, two record companies saw it - Interscope and Virgin records - and really loved it. So, I was brought in to both of them to do videos. One of them ended up being my first video with Tupac, and the other one ended up being with a heavy metal band called "Asphalt Ballet." Those were pretty much my first paying jobs as a director.
I would say pick up a camera - any old camera (a video camera, your phone, whatever it is), and start shooting movies. Write them, cast them, shoot them, get an editing program on your computer, cut them, play with or without music, and start to learn the craft. Do it all yourself.
Today, You have the opportunity to do something that was unable to be done back when I was a kid. It was a lot harder to shoot, and now it's easy for you to start working and learning how to be a director. I think the best generation of directors is going to be the next generation. People will have the chance to gain so much more experience playing with the form. So many hundreds of hours more of studying and working through things, seeing them fail, and being able to adjust until you get the success. So my advice is - go out and do it. Don't ask for permission.