Ava Duvernay hosts her very own Film School via Twitter with over 60 of Hollywood’s biggest directors including the likes of Lulu Wang, Robert Townsend, Matthew Cherry, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Patty Jenkins, dropping gems to inspire film lovers as well as veteran and beginning filmmakers!

Written by: Kay Montgomery – May 1st, 2020 3:25pm pst

Popcorn Talk University: Ava Duvernay

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For Nipsey. An honor. #Grammys 🏁

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Remember when you were in school and, occasionally, the teacher brought in a special guest, who was that much more special because they were in your dream field? 

Yesterday Twitter was the classroom and Ava was the teacher. To educate and motivate aspiring filmmakers, she brought in some of the biggest and most iconic names in Hollywood. What made it better was that each director was there, not to be interviewed by Ava, but to answer questions from film lovers. 

This was a dream of Ava’s come to life- Film School for free.

The highlights were creatives letting us in on what they considered their biggest mistakes made when they first started out, their advice to directors just beginning, and words of wisdom for those in the trenches who just may be losing faith.

Victoria Mahoney, the first female to ever direct a Star Wars film, admitted her mistake to be 

“not researching the detailed years long costs of annual taxes on a film.” 

Wait, that’s a thing? Then, Oscar winning director of Hair Love, Matthew Cherry, remarked that sometimes we get so focused on the creative we forget about the

 “entire process”,  

and admitted he 

“Definitely learned the hard way and had to go and find more money”. In the non-monetary vein of mistakes,

Sundance Film Festival Winner, Sally El Hosaini divulged, “One mistake I made while making a film was thinking I had to have all the answers. From that I learned to listen.” Independent Film champion, Bassam Tariq echoed that statement affirming, 

“You have to have a good braintrust, particularly when building a team.”

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Leos Carax’s ambitious LOVERS ON A BRIDGE took place here. They spent tons of money closing down the bridge in the middle of the night for a month. There is one sequence where the fireworks blaze across the night sky while the lovers dance. It’s a frustrating, beautiful film. But the film was such a critical and box office failure that it took Carax eight years to recover and make his next film (POLA X) which also flopped. I send peace and prayers to all those who strive to fail forward. If the “man” shoots you down or laughs at your courage, I pray that you are able to get up again, heal. As a POC taking risks is difficult. They (stakeholders, our own communities) want us to play it safe and do the “identity politics” thing. Be strange, be beautiful. Re: second photo, a one finger salute cuz I’m a dad and I need an edge on Instagram.

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For those just starting out looking to get attention, Matthew Cherry invites you to, 

“Create your own opportunities. Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with like minded creatives…if you build it they will come. And if not build again and again.”

Gina Prince-Bythewood asserts, to novices, that, 

“Your first film/script should announce to the world who you are. So write a story that is personal, write a story only you can tell.” 

Lulu Wang, Director of The Farewell offers encouraging words to the downtrodden,

“It’s understandable to be discouraged, but you must keep doing the things that are within your control. Write. Shoot. Make things. Let your work and passion drive you, rather than waiting for the industry to change. Be the thermostat, not the thermometer.”

Cultural Icon and inspiration to Ava Duvernay, director Robert Townsend, leaning toward optimism challenged, said,

“It is important to focus on the opportunity, not the obstacle.” 

And Nicole Kassell, a director of the highly acclaimed HBO series Watchmen, guides us with the gem, 

“Passion and perseverance are the keys to doing this”. 

Passion is also a key for Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins who encouraged, 

“Stay passionate and excited about what you’re filming.”

Peter Ramsey, from the greatest Spiderman film of all time, Into The Spiderverse, buoys us by simply remarking,

“Don’t give up, that’s the most important thing. Make sure you’re aiming at the right target for YOU. But don’t give up, if you want it!”

This was advice so powerful and so valuable, it’s hard to believe it was all free. So many icons, behind some of the most beloved films of all time, through to award winning films released just this year. We were moved, educated and inspired. 

If you want to delve deeper, go to Ava’s Twitter @Ava to see everyone of the directors tweet sessions. If you enjoyed this article, please retweet and share with a friend. Tune in daily to Popcorn Talk Network and our sister site AfterBuzz TV for news, articles and after shows and for all of the latest news and info on the world of entertainment. 

About The Author:

Kay Montgomery is a host at Popcorn Talk who loves sitcoms and is currently embroiled in a vicious debate on Bracketology. She is A Different World devotee and although she has a masters degree in Education from The University of Redlands, she would have given anything to go to fictional Hillman College.

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