Judd Apatow: The Role of improvisation in FILMMAKING

In a recent podcast with the Director’s Guild, Judd Apatow shared his advice for film directors. Judd had lots of brilliant advice to give, but the principal thing he kept reiterating was the important of improvisation in film-making. He expressed that throughout the entire film-making process he slowly allows the film to come to life. He went further to state that the film should be a living organism that breathes and grows throughout all stages of production.

Apatow explained that he filmed various endings to his new film The King of Staten Island and felt out which ending felt most alive with the rest of the film. He describes the importance of having a film well thought out and scheduled, but he also expresses his attitude that it’s okay to bail on the script from time to time. Not only for the actors but also for the director as filming process goes on and new ideas come to life. During the filming process, he advises to think like an editor, and to see how the film will all come together.

For actors and written scripts, on his set, Apatow encourages actors that it’s okay to not be completely on book. He states that this makes the actors listen differently, since they don’t necessarily what will be thrown their way from another actor. According to him, this helps the film feel less scripted and more life like, and allows the actors to think outside of a tightly wound box. Apatow also expresses that during the casting process, he often throws actors into improvisation exercises to see how they interact with one another.


For me, until I know that the audience really gets what I’m trying to communicate I’m not done.

Judd Apatow

Listen to Judd Apatow’s full Podcast with The Directors Guild Here


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