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Hollywood director gives advice to film students, shares industry experience

A&E Editor

Published: Monday, November 5, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 23:11


George Mattingly | The Houstonian

Ryan Haberern, member of Raven Films, moderated the Rod Lurie Speaker Series. Lurie discussed his experiences in the film industry and gave advice to students aspiring to join the business.

Rod Lurie, director and writer of “The Contender,” was a part of the Speaker Series hosted by Raven Films. Lurie visited campus Thursday and Friday and discussed how he got into the business and gave advice about getting into the business.

Most of Lurie’s films are about politics and war. The first piece of advice Lurie gave was inspiration.

“The best thing to do is to study what you want to make films about,” Lurie said. “In order to be really good you must be masters of what you want to make films about.”

Lurie went to West Point because he was always interested in war and politics.

Lurie is offered movies to write or direct frequently, but if it doesn’t inspire him, he turns it down.

“If you direct a movie, it is going to take you over a year. That is a long time,” Lurie said. “You better be inspired. If you’re not, you will be dragging your ass to work every day.”

Lurie gave three main pieces of advice to people who want to be involved in film.

“If you’re hoping to waltz out of here, get your ticket to LA and just walk on a set, that’s just not going to happen,” Lurie said.

The first thing he suggested was making short films.

“It is not that expensive to do and when you’re done with one do another,” Lurie said. “When you make one, and you think it is good enough to send onto film festivals, send it. In fact send the bad ones too…the film festivals [are] where you will get discovered.”

Lurie said no one is going to read a screen play; they’re too long. With a short film they can see your work in seven minutes over lunch.

Lurie’s second piece of advice was to take any job offered in the film business.

“Take the job, get experience, make connections,” Lurie said.

The final piece of advice it to go where films are being made.

“Don’t stay in Texas until it has film incentives,” Lurie said. “If you go to Louisiana, Shreveport or New Orleans or Baton Rouge; you go to New Mexico, Atlanta and Memphis, sometimes Richmond, Virginia. You don’t have to go to Los Angeles.”

Lurie said sit and wait until a movie comes to town and “like a bullet out of a gun,” go apply for jobs.

Lurie told how he got into the business and what he was originally inspired by.

“When I was a kid I was a film geek and drove my parents crazy… I always wanted to…be involved,” Lurie said. “I remember I watched ‘Ben-Hur’ and I saw that chariot race which is maybe one of the best action scenes ever made, and I said ‘That’s what I want to do I want to be involved in that, even if I have to melt butter on popcorn.’”

Lurie became a film critic after leaving the army in ‘87. He thought that was the way to become a producer.

“It’s the worst thing you can do because the film makers remember what you said about them,” Lurie said.

Lurie got into the business by making a short film that won him a couple of film festivals and gained him some attention. He then wrote a couple of screen plays that people wanted to produce, and he said only if he directed it.

Lurie also shared some stories about people that he worked with. One was about Kate Beckinsale who was in ‘Nothing but the Truth’ that Lurie directed and made a cameo in.

“I had gotten to know Kate pretty well, we became very good friends. She is just a delight,” Lurie said. “I go to do the scene with her…and [after she said her line] I said ‘Wait a second that’s not Kate Beckinsale.’”

Lurie froze up, called cut and had to go deal with it. He applauded the actors in the room saying it was very hard to do because the actor has to become a different person.

‘Nothing but the Truth” was never released because the company releasing it went bankrupt, according to Lurie.

Lurie also attended the “Pink Out” football game against Southeastern Louisiana.

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