Great Directors Don’t Have To Have The Best Ideas – James Cullen Bressack

Film Courage: What do you love most about being on a movie set? 

James Cullen Bressack, Filmmaker: I love being able to have conversations with people that are all working towards the same goal. I’ve started to figure out my method of directing has kind of changed over the years. I used to always think that I had the best ideas and everybody had to listen to exactly what I think. Then I started to go I have all these really smart people around me that are brilliant and have invested their time in vision as well. What I really should do is shape other people’s ideas. What I started to do is much more collaborative. I have conversations in more broad strokes with people then see what they bring back to me and then I start shaping it from there. It’s much more collaborative in that sense because I feel a good director doesn’t have to have the best ideas, they just have to recognize good ones. What I’ve started to do is direct people to shape it towards something that’s more what I envisioned, but while still bringing in what they brought to the table because people come in and they go I’ve got this bag of tools, I could do this, I could do this and actors whatever and you can do that. When I was working with Mel [Gibson] on this last movie [Hot Seat], Mel saw the character much funnier than it was written and I really loved that idea. He and I started shaping that character together. I think a lot of that when people bring ideas to the table that work for the overall story or the overall look of the film, it’s really great to be able to collaborate with them. My favorite thing about a film set is just having collaboration with the people that I’m working with.

Film Courage: What is day one like on a film set for you?

James: It’s probably the most hectic day of the entire thing. I always say it’s the first day of school blues, everybody’s there and they’re still kind of just figuring out what their place is on set. You’ve had all this prep but how do you work with these people in a pressure cooker? Because once you’re on set, it’s more pressure. In prep it’s more Ah, it’s this… but how do we work on set when there’s more pressure? I would say for me I kind of take it in more on the first day and figure out where we are at and figure out the different personalities and how they mesh together and then kind of work from there. It’s more of a relaxed first day for me. I mean we’re still trying to make our day for sure but it’s more of me just fully understanding how people are. I try to stay away from doing much harder stuff on the first day of a film shoot so that I can gauge what the actual environment is.

Film Courage: I bet you’re a really good read of people, you can probably walk into a room and…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

About James Cullen Bressack:

James Cullen Bressack is an American producer, director, and screenwriter. At the age of 18 he received critical attention from audiences and critics alike when he made his debut feature, My Pure Joy. One to push boundaries, James followed up with the bold and unapologetic Hate Crime which forced audiences along for a brutal home invasion, the first found footage feature ever to be made in the style of having no cuts. The entire film plays out painfully in real time. It was promptly banned in the UK for its fearless story telling, one of three films to be banned in the last 25 years and remains so to this day. The prolific filmmaker refused to slow down completing seven more features including Pernicious, 13-13-13, and Blood Lake, starring Shannen Doherty and Christopher Lloyd, which made James the youngest director to ever direct for television. 

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

After writing and directing the haunting Bethany, James shifted his focus to producing. He has now produced forty-eight features including releases for Lionsgate and Cinedigm and is a member of both the PGA and SAG/AFTRA. His impressive body of work has won him numerous Best Picture and Best Director awards on the film festival circuit. James has achieved all this at the age of 29 and refuses to slow down as he continues to push the envelop and make films no one thought possible. His most recent features include Beyond The Law, starring Steven Seagal and DMX along with Survive The Game and Fortress which star Bruce Willis and Chad Michael Murray. He also just completed photography on the feature Hot Seat starring Mel Gibson, Kevin Dillon, Shannen Doherty and Sam Asghari.






FORTRESS featuring Jesse Metcalfe, Bruce Willis, Chad Michael Murray, Kelly Greyson, Ser’Darius Blain, Shannen Doherty. Directed by James Cullen Bressack. Written by Alan Horsnail. In Select Theaters, On Demand and Digital on December 17, 2021.


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