One Rule A Director Can Never Forget – Phil Hawkins

Film Courage: What does the saying “people watch people first” mean? 

Phil Hawkins, FilmmakerOh! I feel like I’m being quoted back at myself because I say that all the time. Someone really clever said that. I don’t know who, what, how this is because this is from a lot of my mistakes right because I became obsessed in making my own short films, about how everything looked and it had to look good. Everything had to look…I had to have that camera, I had to have that lens, I had to have that lighting and you sort of forget that people watch people first. There’s no point in going to all the effort and time and money and emotion (everything) making a film if your actors are miscast. It’s just pointless. You could have the best script in the world, you could have Chinatown but with really horrible actors it’d be a horrible movie you know? Whereas Chinatown with amazing actors shot on a phone might be not your cup of tea but it’d still be a good movie. I feel like there’s a few things. Directors can be quite scared of actors because I feel you have to really put yourself out there emotionally for them to meet you where you need to be met and that can be a scary thing for some people or some people like to hide behind the technical side of things, like hide behind the monitor or maybe just enjoy the technical side of it first but I always say if you don’t love actors and I love actors right, a lot of my friends are actors. I could never do the job. It’s even harder than what I do, all that rejection and lack of control makes me sick thinking about it but I love them. I love working with actors, it’s a real joy. If you’re not that person then go be a DP or go direct you know Coke cans and commercials kind of thing and the same way if you’re into actors you’re not into…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here). 


Phil Hawkins is an award-winning commercials and features director. He’s directed hundreds of television ads globally and made five feature films released by Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and Netflix. Most recently he’s written and directed Star Wars: Origins, a film shot location in the Sahara Desert that’s taken 3 years to make combining his love of Star Wars and Indiana Jones in a unique re-telling of the beginnings of the saga.









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