Sundance Film Festival starts tonight! Among the Sundance Premieres: "Hunt for the Wilderpeople," written and directed by my student Taika Waititi ("Flight of the Conchords," "Boy," "What We Do in the Shadows"). In USA Documentary Competition: "The Bad Kids," co-directed by my student Lou Pepe. In the Midnight section: my student Bobby Naderi in a lead role in "Under the Shadow." And my student Jessie Kahnweiler, in the new webseries section with "The Skinny," which she wrote, directed, and stars in. Love and congratulations, Bobby, Taika, Lou, and Jessie! Hey everyone - see these movies and lots of others and have a wonderful time in Park City!
Okay. I got up at 5:30 for the announcement but I'm still struggling to take this in. This morning. "The Revenant," directed by my student Alejandro Iñárritu, nominated for 12 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. "Mustang," directed by my student Deniz Gamze Ergüven, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. This is the third year in a row that films directed by students of mine have received Oscar Best Picture nominations. Last year, "Birdman" (which won), directed by Alejandro, and "Selma," directed by my student Ava DuVernay. The year before, "12 Years A Slave" (which won), directed by my student Steve McQueen. These are all beautiful, kind people that I know and cherish and always believed in. I've been lucky that their lives have touched mine. But it's more than pride in the achievement of this handful. I'm proud of all my students. And I'm super proud that my students have practically single-handedly represented the pathetically meager amount of inclusion and diversity in the Oscar nominations of this and the past two years.
Producers Guild Nomiations!
Two of my students/clients nominated for PGA Awards: Alejandro Iñárritu for "The Revenant" (Theatrical Motion Picture); and Andrew Jarecki for "The Jinx" (Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television). Yay!!! Congratulations and love to Alejandro and Andrew!
Going to the Toronto Film Festival!
John and I are headed to the Toronto International Film Festival this week! And - the following fifteen (15!) students/clients of mine are screening films there! I’m terribly excited. Congratulations to everyone! The first four are films that I consulted on:
Deniz Gamze Erguven (Mustang)
Alice Winocour (Disorder)
Maris Curran (Five Nights in Maine)
Mathew Cullen (London Fields)
Leanna Pooley (25 April)
Mai Masri (3000 Nights)
Lorenzo Vigas (Desde Alla)
Cristina Martins (Dogs Don’t Breed Cats)
Alexandra-Therese Keining (Girls Lost)
Barbara Kopple (Miss Sharon Jones)
Morgan Neville (The Music of Strangers; Keith Richards)
Simon Fitzmaurice (My Name Is Emily)
Christian Zubert (One Breath)
Joost Van Ginkel (The Paradise Suite)
David Ross (Theodolitique)
Emmy nominations for students/clients
Andrew Jarecki, director of The Jinx: The Life And Deaths Of Robert Durst, nominated for Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Series, plus 5 other categories, including Outstanding Directing For Nonfiction Programming.
Semi Chellas, nominated for Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series, as co-writer of Lost Horizons episode of Mad Men. She is co-executive producer of Mad Men, which received a total of 11 nominations.
Will Forte, nominated for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (The Last Man on Earth).
Keven McAlester, nominated for Outstanding Writing For Nonfiction Programming (Last Days in Vietnam).
And Transparent nominated for Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series; my former student Noah Harpster is on the writing staff.
So proud of you all! Bravo to all nominees. (And to all the wonderful work currently on television that did not happen to get recognized in the nominations...)
Many of you have taken classes with me at the beautiful space I have run in Los Angeles for the past 14 years. We closed this space this weekend. Instead of running a studio I'll be coaching and consulting one-on-one, and sometimes leading seminars at other venues. I'm so grateful to the people who made this beautiful studio possible. THANK YOU first to those who helped us do the big job of clearing it out. THANK YOU to those who were there at the beginning and along the way to build out the space and make it work - designing and building risers, getting on ladders to staple in acoustic material, the incredibly generous donations of professional lighting equipment and its installation, building sets and flats and painting them over and over (until I settled on that red that stayed forever...), finding us ingenious props and the bar that became our centerpiece, and so many more creative and loving details that made the space vibrant and useful and gave it its heartbeat. And finally - principally - essentially - THANK YOU to the people who came, who took classes and workshops, and attended shows and screenings and parties and Q&As (and the wonderful people who gave the Q&As!!!!) - you who came, you were the studio, you made it a good place to be. I'm still here if you need me, I'll keep coaching and writing and posting (stay tuned!) but you were the ones who gave it life, who made it a studio.
Last night, we screened an awesome slate of 16 very short films by our Studio actors and directors. Followed by a seriously rocking party. A last party at the Motor Ave space. I love this photo taken from the balcony 'cause it looks like a heart. But it may have been taken kinda late 'cause it doesn't really reflect how massive the crowd was most of the evening... Thank you guys for coming out!!! It meant the world to me.
March Forth - I mean March Fourth - is the anniversary of my first day of teaching, 30 years ago today. So it seems like a fitting day to announce that effective May 1st I am letting go the lease on my splendid studio at 3402 Motor, where I've been teaching for 14 years. The studios I leased before 3402 Motor were also wonderful - across the street at 3447 Motor from 1993-2001, Lincoln Blvd 1990-93, the Burbage Theater from 1985-90. But 3402 Motor felt like home. I am not stopping teaching, I am healthy and flourishing, I am just stopping running a studio, shifting to one-on-one coaching and consulting. Letting go of my identity as the shepherd of a studio is a big deal, as that identity has driven me and energized and fed me for 30 years. Workshops that I created and loved and became known for are ending. Now and then I may guest teach or give workshops at some other venue. But my focus will be one-on-one coaching and consulting with directors, actors and writer-directors. And writing that third book. Continuing "Monday tips for filmmakers" on my facebook page. More videos. An audio version of "Directing Actors." Maybe a couple other projects I have in mind. I'm excited. And John is happy. I've always been touched by the way my students notice and appreciate how central and fundamental John is to running the studio. He's my rock. So. We're making a change. But I'm not going away. Stay tuned!
At the Oscars last night, "Birdman" was named Best Picture! Alejandro Best Director! "Selma" took the award for Best Song, "Glory." "Birdman" also taking Oscars for Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. I couldn't sleep last night, I'm so thrilled and proud.
"Judith taught me how to communicate with actors in a completely new way, and what I learned from her has had a huge influence over both my work and my life. She is an incredible communicator, a gifted teacher, and a remarkable human being. I can't recommend her classes highly enough for directors and actors who want to bring more emotional truth to their craft."JULIUS RAMSAY, director, THE WALKING DEAD
"All the scary transformative moments I've had in your class really paid off. And I can never begin to thank you for all that you've done for me. I'm simply not the same person I was when I started my journey with you."ANDREA TOYIAS, Voice Director, Blizzard Entertainment, WORLD OF WARCRAFT / DIABLO / STARCRAFT
“I really wanted to thank you because I know that I could have not done it without the knowledge I got from you. You will always be one of the greatest teachers I've ever had and I'm truly proud to be one of your students. Thank you for teaching me to love my actors.”TANEL TOOM, writer-director, THE CONFESSION (nominated for Academy Award, Live Action Short Film, 2011)
“I took a seminar with an acting teacher named Judith Weston. I learned a key insight to character. She believed that all well-drawn characters have a spine, and the idea is that the character has an inner motor, a dominant, unconscious goal that they’re striving for, an itch that they can’t scratch. I took to this like a duck to water.”ANDREW STANTON [from his Feb 2012 TED Talk] writer-director, WALL-E, FINDING NEMO, A BUG’S LIFE; writer, TOY STORY, TOY STORY 2, TOY STORY 3
"Directing my first movie would have been impossible without Judith's book, 'Directing Actors.' Her insights taught me how to audition actors, how to cast intelligently, how to rehearse. When production began, I cribbed a set of Weston reminders on to a 3-by-5 index card, and kept it in my shirt pocket every single day of shooting. She saved me."BILLY RAY, writer-director, SHATTERED GLASS, BREACH; writer, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, THE HUNGER GAMES, STATE OF PLAY, FLIGHTPLAN
"Judith, you're the one that gave me the tools for success with actors!"KAREN GAVIOLA, director, SONS OF ANARCHY, CRIMINAL MINDS, CSI, NCIS, BLUE BLOODS, CSI:MIAMI, CASTLE, PRIVATE PRACTICE, LOST, GHOST WHISPERER, PRISON BREAK, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, NYPD BLUE
“Judith Weston taught me how to listen – what she called ‘listening with your whole body.’ She taught me about the power and the magic of the subconscious world. She showed me doors and windows and portals into creative possibilities I scarcely knew existed. Her wisdom changed the way I write, the way I direct actors – and, with no exaggeration, the way I look at life.”MARK FERGUS, co-writer: CHILDREN OF MEN, IRON MAN; director: FIRST SNOW
"Judith Weston is a great teacher. She's inspired me to be interested in people more than concepts, behavior more than attitudes, process more than results. In her classes I've learned to ask more questions, to trust what is happening, and to always be willing to dig deeper. She is the kind of teacher who makes me excited about taking chances."NORMAN BUCKLEY, director, PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, RIZZOLI & ISLES, THE FOSTERS, THE CLIENT LIST, SWITCHED AT BIRTH, GOSSIP GIRL, CHUCK, MELROSE PLACE, 90210, THE O.C.
“You've taught me the essential tools so I could carry on with the visions that haunt me day and night and to embrace the process which I will continue to learn. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”DEJA PREM, writer/producer/director/actor, at Green Coco Production
“Your workshop was wonderful in letting me know that many of the things I am already doing are the correct way of dealing with actors and taught me other things that add to that knowledge. And your patience and unbridled energy and passion for what you teach is more than admirable, it is inspiring. So thank you once again for this wonderful experience, one I will never forget and that will continue to help me on this path on which I am forever learning about new and wonderful things.”MICHAEL TRIM, director, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, WEEDS, PARKS AND RECREATION
"Judith Weston is not a drama teacher, she is an art teacher. She understands that at the heart of great drama is a powerful mystery. What she shows you in her workshops and her book are simple and effective tools that help you get deeper and deeper into that rich, complex and surprising place."DAVID JACOBSON, writer-director, DOWN IN THE VALLEY, DAHMER
“In your classes I learned to love actors and acting. The experience opened for me the secret door to the magic I witnessed when actor and material find each other in just the right way. What I once thought were 'happy accidents' and performance miracles are now the kernels of creativity I relentlessly pursue with an actor finding a performance. You helped me find that part I could play in the process and how to capture it.”FRED TOYE, director, THE GOOD WIFE, PERSON OF INTEREST, RIZZOLI & ISLES, FRINGE, CHUCK, CSI:NY, LOST, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, GHOST WHISPERER, CHUCK
“Judith Weston gave me the greatest gift you can give to a first-time director - she gave me confidence in my ability to work with actors. I will be forever grateful for her extremely hands on and applicable advice for directing actors and I know I will use it for the rest of my career. She has a contagious love of the process and an unbelievable understanding of human emotion. I would not be where I am today if it had not been for her.”SHANA FESTE, writer-director, ENDLESS LOVE, COUNTRY STRONG, THE GREATEST
"Judith's method is wonderful because it is practical. She has given me numerous tools to solve problems on the set and to earn the trust of actors. Her classes and her book are invaluable resources to any director."LAWRENCE TRILLING, director, MASTERS OF SEX, PARENTHOOD, PUSHING DAISIES, DAMAGES, BROTHERS AND SISTERS, NIP/TUCK, MONK, SCRUBS, INVASION, ALIAS, FELICITY
"Every time I step on a set, I think of what Judith taught me. Every time I begin a project, I review a notebook I kept during the years I studied with her. Every time I'm in rehearsal, I'm using her techniques. Every time I'm in a bind within a scene, I go back to the foundation she gave me. I didn't go to film school. I sat in Judith Weston's workshops, took everything she said to heart, then went out and started telling my stories. I'm so grateful for that path - and for her."AVA DuVERNAY, director, SELMA (2015 Golden Globe nominee for Best Film, and Best Director), SCANDAL, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (winner of the Best Director Award at Sundance Film Festival and the I
"Judith's ideas and principles are incredibly useful when it comes to giving clear, actionable direction to actors. To anyone aspiring to direct, I would recommend making her classroom one of your first stops."LEV L. SPIRO, director, MODERN FAMILY, UGLY BETTY, WEEDS, EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, ARLI$$, THE O.C., EVERWOOD, GILMORE GIRLS
"Everything you taught me was more than useful. I am deeply grateful."ALEJANDRO GONZÁLEZ IÑÁRRITU, director, BIRDMAN, BIUTIFUL, BABEL, 21 GRAMS, AMORES PERROS