Gavin Hood – Practical Advice and Inspiration from Eye In The Sky Director

Gavin Hood is climbing the ranks in the film industry, having directed some popular movies with tenacious morale.

I first noticed him after watching Eye in the Sky, which is about the disputes of modern warfare. I was thoroughly impressed. I don’t remember the last time I was on the edge of my seat for the duration of an entire movie. When I realized he’s a fellow South-African, I was intrigued even more – I have to admit I’m a bit biased…

The more I found out about him, the more reasons I found to acknowledge him and his work.

Gavin Hood is the kind of filmmaker who is in the business for the right reasons.

He is driven to create current and applicable content which is entertaining at the same time. When asked why he chose to direct Eye in the Sky, he commented: “It’s completely current and it’s about what’s really happening in modern warfare and it has elements of black comedy and farce that are grounded in real life.”

His choice to cast Helen Mirren (the role was intended for a male lead) as Colonel Katherine Powell was very strategic. He didn’t want to box the movie in as a war movie for guys.

He recounts saying, “I want it to be a movie about war but that it’s a conversation starter for men and women about a subject matter that I think is very topical.”

He’s also a filmmaker who works extremely hard to get where he is right now. When asked to give advice to aspiring filmmakers, he shared, “Unfortunately, […] there’s this notion that you can become famous and rich very quickly. It’s a curse I think. […]

The way you make it is by getting good at making films.

There’s no shortcut; just study the craft and practise and hopefully you’ll eventually connect with an audience. And if you don’t connect with an audience, you won’t have a career in this business.”

Hood with Barkhad

It took a while for him to gain international recognition. Even though he wanted to be an actor, he followed his father’s advice and “took his big mouth and studied law” though he only practiced it for 4 months. He was already 30 when he actually started studying screenwriting, cinematography and directing.

Although he knew he was always going to go into film, he doesn’t regret having studied law, instead he recalls, “it trained me in terms of thinking and story and conflict and moral and ethical questions.”

He continually emphasizes the importance of making films in order to connect with your audience. He himself is drawn to stories compelling him to think. “I personally, with my background of being a lawyer and growing up in the turbulent times of the 80’s in South-Africa, I tend to be drawn to […] stories that somehow challenge me in a moral or ethical way.

“Don’t tell me what to think, but present me with something morally or ethically challenging.”

He started small by making short films; The Storekeeper was one I remember seeing in Middle School. It left a big impression on me, not only because of the dilemma it presents, but because it was so close to home. It was a South-African story which could be understood universally.

This is another thing I appreciate about him; he bloomed where he was planted. He started where he was and then expanded, instead of limiting himself to the small South-African film industry.

Tsotsi was his breakthrough film which garnered him an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2006 – a film I highly recommend by the way…

It was again, an authentic story, but one exploring universal humanity.

“I really believe that we focus so much on differences and not enough on similarities. Most people, on a very basic level, have surprisingly similar needs. The need for companionship, dignity, love. And when these basic needs are not met, you find individuals developing a very distorted sense of the world.”

By now, he has other popular movies under his belt like Ender’s Game, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Rendition.


I celebrate people like Gavin Hood and believe there are many more like him out there who we simply need to discover.

Fellow filmmakers and actors, let us strive and work hard to tell stories worth telling. Stories that challenge people in their thinking to fight passivity.

Gavin Hood, I thank you for being an inspiration and persisting with a tenacious and creative spirit – all the best to you for your future projects!

Written by Annette Lange.


Why You Shouldn’t Murder The Director

There have been many a time where I have been in situations on set where it was really easy to be mad at the director. There are just certain things directors do that can make it seem they couldn’t care less about us as actors.


The thing is, it’s ok.


Every director you come across will work differently, but for the majority of ones that I’ve worked with, on student-made short films, the focus is on the camera and shot and not so much on the actor or his performance. That being said, there are some things to keep in mind.


Trust the director


The director has a specific vision that he or she is trying to make come alive. They take the script the screenwriters make and turn it into their interpretation. They work long and hard to make sure that vision becomes a reality, and it’s our job as actors to trust that the director knows what he’s doing.


This was difficult for me on the first short film set I was apart of. Everyone was still getting a feel of set life and how to make a movie, and it was a pretty unpleasant experience. The actors would be in the lights too long and breaks were few and far between. Actually thinking back, we never got a break while on that set.


During the process I was pretty upset at the director, but I also knew it wasn’t my place to say how things should be run, and so I sat there under the lights, sweating my butt off.


The thing I learned, was even if the director makes a ton of mistakes, we shouldn’t worry, but trust he wants the best for us, because he wants us to give the best performance.




All of that being said, it’s still tempting to push the director off a roof when no one is looking. But here’s another reason why you shouldn’t.


It’s just you and them


When it comes to an actor’s relationship with the crew there’s only one person you really interact with. You guessed it, the director. Well, them and occasionally the first assistant director.


I was acting on a short film about a guy who couldn’t cook to say his life. On that set I remember I was able to share exactly what I thought about my character, who he was and every intimate thing about him with the director. She also shared her vision for the character, this person who she created from the heart. We had a moment before filming where we sat down and shared what we both thought.


It was sweet.


To me, that is the beauty of the relationship between actor and director. We are both working in film to present truth and to create. They aren’t out to get us killed or hurt or make us feel bad. Most directors want to intimately create with us the story they have taken on themselves.


We are both unique artists, where the goal of the director and the actor are essentially the same. I wanted to write this blog because I know it’s easy to get angry at the director on a trying set. It’s easy to view the director negatively, especially if they don’t listen to our interpretation, but the thing is, we are here to serve.


To me, that is the beauty of the relationship between actor and director. We are both working in film to present truth and to create.


Actors are servants


It’s never easy to serve someone who asks you to do things you don’t like or things you are uncomfortable with doing. It can even be a blow to your pride if what you are suppose to do as your character can seem humiliating. But when it comes to acting, we need to learn to let go of our pride and do what the director asks of us.


The beautiful part about serving the director is that in most cases, the director and actor are able to communicate what they think is truthful for a particular scene. It’s a special relationship where both are able to give their interpretations of something.


I worked with a director while doing a short film about suicide where the communication between him and us actors was actually really intimate and sincere. We were able to see his vision for the script and we were able to show him how we had developed our characters.


The unity between actor and director can be very strong if both are willing to share their visions with each other. So don’t murder the director. Instead choose to create with him. Here’s a picture of Christopher Nolan and Michael Caine chilling just like we should do with our director.


Trust counters anger and frustration. At the end of the day, if you trust the director and the vision he has then you won’t want to murder him.
At the end of the day we are both here for the same reason. We both want to create a beautiful, truthful story. Even if it seems the director is out to get you and your little dog too, he’s not. He’s your friend. Don’t choose murder, choose friendship!

Meet Us

Recently We had 6 people, 3 Men and 3 women from all around the world join our team here at the Initiative Production Company so I, Matthew Schmidt, being an inquisitive  people person, thought I would take it upon myself to interview them so you all could get to know them a bit better.


All of our new staff are a passionate, dedicated and creative bunch, who strive to give the world excellence in film.


I thought for this week I would start with the 3 men of the group.


They are as follows:


Connor Campbell is a filmmaker from Ontario, Canada. He loves all things sci-fi and is passionate about technology.


Keaton Evans is an Actor from Anchorage, Alaska. He has a passion for all forms of storytelling and the universe.


Micah McWhorter is a Filmmaker from Flowery Branch, Georgia. He is full positive energy and has a passion of and for creating beautiful cinematography.


Without further ado here is our interview!!


Matt: Hey Guys! How are you doing today?


All: Excellent! Fantastic! Thanks for having us on the show!!


Connor Campbell: My name is Connor Campbell and I am from Canada!!


Micah McWhorter: My name is Micah and I’m from from Flowery Branch, Georgia!


Keaton Evans: Thanks again for having us on the show here! My name is Keaton and I’m from Anchorage, Alaska!


Picture of Keaton Evans

“When my time is done I would like to have full confidence in myself to create a project run with it and have it be something people will watch and enjoy.”-Micah McWhorter


M: What is the first thought you think of each day?


MMW: “How long can I lie here in bed until I have to pee?”


CC: Mine is similar, but it’s “how long can I lie here before having to get up and start the day?”


KE: “Good God, I’m glad I’m alive!”


M: What would you do if you had 1 million dollars?


CC: I would live in a penthouse probably in Manhattan.


MMW: I would buy a cabin in the woods, on a mountain somewhere, and invest the rest in gold or the stock market or both.


KE: I would buy a piggy bank worth $999,999 dollars and put one dollar into it!


M: How would you describe one another and yourself?


CC: I would describe myself as analytical, Keaton is logical, Micah is an adventurer.


MMW: Connor is decisive, Keaton yearns for knowledge, I am an adaptable dreamer.


KE: Connor is particular, I am metaphysical, Micah always wants to make films.


M: What sport would you most want to participate in the Olympics?


Picture of Connor Campbell

CC: Soccer, volleyball indoor, or beach.


MW: I got 3. I like wrestling, so wrestling would be my number 1, then the high dive and gymnastics would follow.


KE: First fencing, followed by long distance running, and water polo.


M: What is your favourite part about working in and being a part of The Initiative?


CC:  I like that it isn’t just about where the top people run everything, but that we are all a part of the vision.


MMW: Our ideas are valued and heard; that we can pitch an idea, create it, and help each other with their ideas.


KE: That we are able to get our ideas out into the world and have people that will support us in that.


M: What part of filmmaking are you most focused on right now and interested in in the future?


CC: I really want to explore every aspect of storytelling, starting with writing and finding my own style; specifically in regards to directing and cinematography.


MW: For right now, I’m really focused on cinematography, and I want to learn more about directing. Right now, i’m really focused on lightning and composition. How to tell a story which each shot and movement that you pick.


KE: I want to learn to express ideas I have in my head, whether that be through writing or acting. I really want to find the artistic beauty in storytelling.


M: What is the thing you’re most excited about for your time here in The Initiative?


CC: That I’m here finally doing what I’ve wanted to do for so long and being involved in the film industry and it’s exciting to see how much I can learn here.


MMW: I am excited to see each other grow in their passion for filmmaking, and I’m excited for my self to learn as much as I can. I want to remain humble and work well with others.


KE: I’m excited to grow and to see growth in others. I’m excited to have a better understanding of art and other people.


M: What do you want to leave The Initiative with?


CC: To have the confidence to make something good. To have the confidence to make a feature film.


Picture of Micah Mcwhorter


MMW: When my time is done, I would like to have full confidence in myself to create a project, run with it, and have it be something people will watch and enjoy. I hope I will be able sell myself as an artist, where people trust what I create will be quality; creative and unique.


KE: I want to have discipline in my art and my life. Being confident in my ability to create and be an actor in the industry. To not be afraid of failure or trying. I want to walk away with a larger capacity for imagination and creativity.


M: Thanks guys! Have a good rest of your day!!


So there it is!! I hoped you enjoyed meeting half of the recent additions to our team here at The Initiative. Be sure to continue to follow along with all of our journeys’ here.


Keep your eyes peeled for the second half of this interview with the women that have recently joined us!!