I first heard about the Starz original series The Chair a few weeks ago, when a /Filmcast listener suggested it to me. The novel approach of the show was intriguing: Give two directors the same script, provide them a modest budget to direct their first indie film, and allow them each to have final cut. The director who made the better film (according to survey data) would receive $200,000.

The Chair is an essential resource for any beginning filmmaker. Not only is it addictive as hell to see two new filmmakers take their films in dramatically different directions — and the victories and failures that come with that — it also provides a great overview of the hundreds of choices that go into making a film. I dove into the show headfirst and finished the entire series within a week.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Chair producers Josh Shader and Chris Moore (the latter of whom also produced films such as American Pie and Good Will Hunting). The full podcast is coming soon, but one of the things we talked about during our interview and over email were what mistakes first-time filmmakers make. Some of these lessons are derived not just from The Chair but from the producers’ experiences on other films. Hit the jump to see what they suggest. You can watch The Chair on Starz digital or buy it on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play.
Read More »