When director Tony Goldwyn spoke to budding film students last night about starting a career in the industry, he gave them one bit of advice: stay students.
“You always need to have a student mentality, the more you know, the more you learn you don’t know shit,” he said.
Goldwyn, who is in Ann Arbor shooting “Betty Ann Waters” starring Hilary Swank, told about 50 students in an Angell Hall auditorium that he finds his inspiration from younger people who are eager to learn.
For the past eight years, Goldwyn has been working on the movie, which is the true story of a woman who put herself through law school so she could defend her incarcerated brother, whom she believed to be innocent of his murder conviction.
Goldwyn said he was drawn to “this incredible relationship between brother and sister and the faith one person had in another person.”
He said he wants to dramatize the dynamic, but spoke vehemently about not wanting to produce just another made-for-TV movie about Waters. He said he wants to produce an independent, unconventional film to capture the story.
He said his status as an independent filmmaker is both a “blessing and a profound curse.”
“Working with a studio you ultimately have to succumb to the studio executives who are worried about how to market the film and pressure you because of the millions of dollars they are spending on your project,” he said.
In independent filmmaking, he said, “you have total creative freedom. However, financing a movie independently is just diabolically difficult.”
A student asked if it was better to pursue a career in independent or studio production.
Goldwyn emphatically said, “Both.”
“Pursue everything you have the energy to pursue,” he said. “The more that you can do, the better off you are if you want to get into this business.”
He also advised students to take advantage of networking opportunities after a student asked him about how to break into the business.
“Networking, which sounds like a superficial thing, is actually very powerful,” he said.
Goldwyn said that networking is not just about talking to someone to get something out of them, but rather “it’s about connecting on a creative level, even if it’s a business level.”
LSA junior Patrick Crumb, an English major interested in screen writing, said he was able to take away a lot of information from Goldwyn’s talk.
“I came out here because I just think it’s a really cool opportunity we have and it’s interesting to see what’s happening in Michigan in general as they bring in movies like this,” he said.