Edward Norton and Rory Cullkin
Edward Norton and Rory Culkin in Down in the Valley. Photo: THINKFilm

I learned a lot from doing Down in the Valley, though I’m not sure anyone should take these lessons to their own projects.

In editing Down in the Valley (and Dahmer) I found that when you think you’re done editing you can always cut out another 20 minutes (as long as your film is not 90 minutes when you first get that feeling).

If you are making a union film, think twice about having a child actor. They can only work nine hours and three of those have to be taken up with school. You’ll be amazed how little you get done.

Here is a very specific one that I learned on the last day of shooting from my horse wrangler. Animals can do almost anything you want them to do, but they need a lot of specific trainingfor anything beyond moving in a straight line from point A to point B. This training costs money and your producers might neglect to advise you of that. Make sure you demand it, and if you don’t have the budget, change the action.

Try to finish shooting days early whenever you can; it will really help on all those days when you must go long.

Even though you have every right to have doubts and uncertainties when you’re making a film, never let it be known. Everyone wants and needs you to seem like a powerful, all-seeing leader. Just play the role.