Chapter 23 of 32 from Judd Apatow

Directing: Production

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From budgets to scheduling to managing a crew, Judd discusses important aspects of filmmaking and offers advice on how to tackle each.

Topics include: Assess Tomorrow’s Scenes Tonight • Schedule Your Shoot Day Thoughtfully • Set a Realistic Schedule and Stick to It • Find Creative Solutions to Budget Limitations • Make Low Budgets Serve You

Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy

Judd Apatow teaches you how to write, direct, produce, and perform comedy for film and television.

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When I'm preparing for a shoot day, what I try to do is read all the scenes over the night before and remember why I wrote them. And that really is the part of it that is easiest to get lost, which is why are we here? What is this scene about? How does it serve the story? How does it serve the character? And you do have to take a breath because you're so busy when you're directing that you're exhausted and you can get negligent. So I'll just say, OK, I'm going to sit and I'm going to read this section of the script again, read the scene, and judge it. How is it? Did we nail it? Is this one of the weak ones that I have to make new stuff up on the spot to save? Or am I going to be a little more religious about shooting that scene the way it was written? Then, usually during visits to the location before the shooting day, I will have a sense of how I'm going to shoot it. So I'll get into space and I will-- in very simple terms-- say, I think they're sitting here or she walks in here, they talk there, she punches him in the face, he falls, she walks out that door. And then I try to block it in my head and figure out what those shots would be to cover that. On the day that we shoot, sometimes that changes. Sometimes you get the real actresses and actors in and you say, oh, that doesn't work because he's too tall and when he falls they would hit the table wrong and that door actually isn't the door to outside, that's a janitor's closet. And then you realize that none of your plans work. So we'll do it again on the day. But usually I have roughed it in in my head. I'm not someone that has like a list of the shots. I don't write it out. I generally have that in my head and I talk about it with the cinematographer, probably out of pure laziness. It's much better to have a piece of paper, you know? Master, two-shot, tighter two-shot, clean singles, overs, different angle, as they exit. You could write that out. I do not do it out of arrogance, out of pure arrogance. I just-- I get lazy. But that is a helpful thing to do. Here's the thing you're trying to figure out that's difficult. How long is it going to take to shoot this? So every day starts off with a conversation with the first AD and the cinematographer. This conversation happened in prep, as well, which is, how many scenes are we shooting today? How much time do you think each scene will take? How long will it take to move to wherever we have to go between scenes? So what I do-- and this is one area that I'm not lazy in-- I will say, OK, we all got to set at 7 and we are going to attempt to be shooting by 8:30, we'll finish the first scene by 11:30, we will shoot this shorter scene before lunch, we break for lunch, we're back rolling again at 2:30. I have three hours for the first scene and two hours for the second scene, and then I need one shot establishing this space, you know? Like an exterior shot of the building to end the day. And I'll have a very strict timet...

Get serious about comedy

No joke: At age 15, Judd Apatow took a dishwashing job at a comedy club to watch the acts. Today, he’s the comedic genius behind hits including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. In his first-ever online class, the Emmy Award winner teaches you how to create hilarious storylines, write great stand-up, and direct comedies that leave audiences laughing.

Learn Judd’s creative process through case studies, scene deconstructions, and practical insight in 32 on-demand video lessons.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Judd will also answer select student questions.

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Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy