Academy-Award Nominated director & actor, Mark Rydell, was a recent New York Film Academy guest speaker at Warner Bros, following a screening of 2001´s television movie, James Dean. As a Veteran of the US Military, Mark studied with Sandy Meisner on the GI Bill for his first full year, until Meisner gave him a scholarship to continue into the second year. From that point on, Mark has had an incredible career spanning decades, which include directing the films The Cowboys with John Wayne, On Golden Pond with Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, and The Rose with Bette Midler. The NYFA Q&A event was moderated by Filmmaking Chair Mike Civille and NYFA Acting Instructor Cathy Gianonne Russo, who happens to be a friend of Mark’s.
Mark was especially qualified to direct the James Dean television movie, as he was close to him on a personal level. “I knew Jimmy very well, and working with him as an actor was very exciting. Jimmy was very alive…his motor was always running.”
At 84 years of age, Rydell had some thoughts about the business today. “Today it´s disappointing how much misplaced focus there is on monetary success. It´s like the ugly pursuit of the dollar as opposed to the art.” He finds that collaborating and being open-minded is key. Cinematography, for example, is a critical element. And just like acting, it´s important to be, “friendly, constructive, inspiring and to create an atmosphere of creative freedom.” Finally, he stated that, “You have to be open! Whoever it is on the set – even the catering guy – you never know where the next great idea will come from!”