Directors on Acting: Feature Film

The Business

Los Angeles

Directors on Acting: Feature Film

Ana Lily Amirpour, Patrick Brice, Liza Johnson, Adam Salky

Friday, April 28, 2017

7:00 PM
Check-in begins at: 6:30 PM

7:05 PM PDT


A conversation with feature film directors to discuss and reflect on their approaches to working with actors. The panel will address techniques for communicating the director’s vision for a scene and the ways in which they collaborate with performers to execute specific goals for the film as a whole. Hear from these distinguished filmmakers about the process behind directing a feature film and how the actor can best serve that process.


Ana Lily Amirpour
Ana Lily made her first film at age 12, a horror movie starring guests of a slumber party. She has a varied background in the arts including painting and sculpting, and was bass player and frontwoman of an artrock band before moving to Los Angeles to make films. Her debut feature film, the Iranian Vampire Western A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, premiered in the NEXT section of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was opening night selection at the New Directors/New Films Festival at the MoMA in New York. She is also creator of a comic book series A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, which chronicles the ongoing blood-soaked journeys of the lonely vampire known only as The Girl. 

Her second feature, The Bad Batch, starring Suki Waterhouse, Keanu Reeves, Diego Luna, and Jim Carey, is a dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland and set in a community of cannibals. It had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, winning a Special Jury Prize and will be released theatrically this coming June. 

Ana Lily's favorite things are Bruce Lee, David Lynch, and dancing.

Patrick Brice
Patrick was born and raised Grass Valley, a small town in the foothills of Northern California. He graduated with a BFA from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) School of Film & Video. Creep, his first feature-film as director/writer/actor (co-starring Mark Duplass) was produced by Blumhouse Productions, premiered at SXSW 2014 and was released through Netflix and iTunes. His second feature as director/writer, The Overnight (with Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling and Jason Schwartzman) premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. His writing has appeared in The Talkhouse and ZYZZYVA. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

Liza Johnson
Liza is a writer and director whose films have screened at the Cannes Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival and are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Johnson wrote and directed the film Return (2011), a drama about a woman returning from her military deployment, starring Linda Cardellini and Michael Shannon. Her film Hateship Loveship (2013) was an adaptation of Alice Munro's story Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, which starred Kristen Wiig in her first dramatic lead. She also directed the satiric comedy Elvis and Nixon (2016), starring Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey. Additionally, Johnson has created many short films and video installations, often working with nonprofessional actors in specific social environments. These include the films South of Ten, In the Air and Karrabing: Low Tide Turning, which she co-directed with Elizabeth Povinelli. For television, she recently directed the pilot for the Amazon series Good Girls Revolt (2016) and an episode of Ryan Murphy’s Feud (2017).

Johnson has been a fellow of the DAAD Berlin Kunstler programm and the Sundance Institute, and has been recipient the Wexner Center for the Arts Residency Award and the De Cordova Museum's Rappaport Prize.

Adam Salky
Adam's second feature film, I SMILE BACK, garnered star Sarah Silverman a 2016 Screen Actor’s Guild Award nomination for outstanding performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.  Adam made his feature film directorial debut with DARE, a Grand Jury Prize Nominee of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in the Dramatic Competition Category. It features Emmy Rossum, Zach Gilford, Alan Cumming, Sandra Bernhard, and the first starring role of Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara.

In 2016 Adam was selected for the Warner Brothers Television Directors’ Workshop. He then directed an episode of NBC’s hit show, Blindspot, which just aired in January of 2017. Pursuing a deep interest in new media content creation, Adam has directed viral videos with over 12 million hits on Youtube, and recently directed UNCABARET, an unscripted pilot produced for

Adam has served as an advisor at the Sundance Labs, has guest lectured on directing at Columbia University and various high schools, and taught directing at USC’s Graduate School of Cinematic Arts. A magna cum laude graduate of Emory University, Adam completed his MFA at Columbia University's Graduate School of the Arts Film Division where he directed several award winning short films, and was the recipient of the James Bridges Award. Adam currently lives in LA.

Moderator - Michelle Satter, Sundance Institute
Michelle is the Founding Director of Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program, the inaugural program of the Institute. She has worked most closely with the Feature Film Program which has provided year-round and in-depth support to the ground-breaking and award-winning filmmakers Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs), Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), and Joshua Marston (Maria Full of Grace), among many others. Satter was also responsible for establishing the Institute’s international initiatives in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and India. She spearheaded the establishment of the Creative Producing Fellowship and the New Frontier Story Lab. Satter, who co-produced the Academy Award nominated documentary Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter’s Journey in 1989, has been recognized with the Women in Film Business Leadership Award, the ACLU Bill of Rights Award, the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles U.S.-based Industry Leadership Award, and a tribute celebrating 30 years of the Sundance Institute.


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