Some Random Thoughts on Making Movies

The author lining up a shot during the filming of “An L.A. Minute.”

When you are ill, your symptoms don’t reveal much without a physician to interpret them, and film directors, like all serious artists, are the physicians of society. Diagnosing society’s ills is the objective. Art is a necessity if we desire a healthy society, and because film is the most popular form of artistic expression, it is the duty of every filmmaker to create art.

What is art? One popular and benign definition is that art simply portrays beauty through the personal lens of the artist; but I take issue with that. Art must have, and has had, a higher purpose…


Historians have tried to trace the origin of the American Revolution, but few, if any, have dared indicate an exact moment in time. Yet sufficient evidence points to the chilly afternoon of February 24, 1761, inside the Old Town House (now the Old State House) in Boston as the precise time and place. Future president John Adams, who, as a 25-year-old Boston attorney in attendance at that occasion, later declared, “Then and there was the first scene of the first Act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there, the Child Independence was…

The Declaration of Independence (photo courtesy Library of Congress)

In 1761, an American patriot who subsequently has been long lost to history, the esteemed Boston jurist James Otis Jr., first applied John Locke’s philosophy to the colonial predicament. He espoused that mankind, in a state of nature, has a natural right to “life, liberty and property.” Otis injected the phrase into the colonial lexicon and simultaneously sparked what would become the American revolution.

Fifteen years later Thomas Jefferson, in an early draft of the Declaration of Independence, borrowed the phrase from Otis. However, in the final draft he substituted the word “property” with the words “the pursuit of happiness.”…

Photo courtesy Unsplash/Jørgen Håland. Used with permission

Do I really have to state the obvious here? Or is America in such a state of cognitive dissonance that the obvious is no longer even a consideration?

Public unrest. Riots. Polarization. Authoritarianism. Brazen corruption. Defiance of the rule of law. Rampant lack of the public trust. The electoral process under siege. Public officials condoning racism. Emboldened by political leaders, fringe groups promoting insurrection. An economy in collapse. Sharper disparities between rich and poor. America’s world influence in steep decline. Worldwide abandonment of traditional democratic allies and alliances. Embrace of totalitarian dictatorships. …

The author directing actor Gabriel Byrne in the feature film, “An L.A. Minute”

It is a widely conceded urban legend that the acting profession is one of the most competitive in the world, and if you look at it strictly as a ratio of available actors versus available jobs, there is enough empirical evidence to convince you of that assumption. But in actuality, the odds of having an acting career are much better than they appear because, although there are an overwhelming number of actors out there, I can attest that, after 30 years of directing movies, there is a dearth of good ones. The question is, how do you get good?


With every movie I set out to make the inevitable question is always posed: film or digital? For 30 years, I’ve always shot on film, but with every project, especially within the last ten years or so, a producer will make the case for digital. It’s cheaper. You can move faster. You have more technological options. It makes post easier. But it is for all those reasons that the proponents of digital make the case for film stronger because it is film’s limitations that actually make it a higher art form.

With every artistic medium comes a set of restrictions…

Daniel Adams

Adams is an award-winning feature film director and screenwriter who has worked with numerous Oscar-winning actors and nominees.

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