By Jenny Castro
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/16/23 – Hollywood Film and TV director Dwight Little recently released his new memoir this summer which gives readers an insight into show business and offers a firsthand account of celebrity interaction. Deeply informative, honest and entertaining, the memoir is a great read for anyone looking to tap into the world of entertainment, specifically those with a strong interest and passion for film, including aspiring film directors.
“Still Rolling: Inside The Hollywood Dream Factory,” features descriptive photos of Little’s time on film sets throughout his career, and goes through accounts of working with various producers, executives, and actors. Known for directing films such as “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers”, Marked for Death,” “Boss of Bosses,” “Free Willy 2” and TV shows including “Prison Break,” Little’s career has spanned over 4 decades, and he has directed for the likes of 20th Century Fox , Warner Brothers, and Columbia Pictures.
A lover of films, Little’s journey began with an interest early on,
“It was a passion for me from a very early age. I just stuck with it and then went to film school and went onto low budget movies eventually working my way up to studio movies and television,” Little said.
When Little was in eighth grade, a teacher exposed him to films with darker themes typically not watched by youngsters his age, “The Pawnbroker’ (1964), an early Sidney Lumet film, and “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” (1962), films that would have been considered art films at that time.
“I was just so amazed by their ability to capture life and the struggles with life and I was very taken with it,” Little said. “I was drawn to these darker themes as a very young man so that got me interested in movies.”
Little came of age in the 70as, when “movies were just exploding and we were just blessed with an unbelievable flowering of independent movies with Coppola and Sidney Pollack. There were so many filmmakers who were doing amazing things,” Little said.
Little, a graduate of USC’s School of Cinema, said he wrote his book to help people who want to make short or independent films, or for those aspiring to go to film school to help give them a roadmap and ideas.
With show business undoubtedly being such a competitive and cut-throat industry, Little said aspiring film directors must have a “strong point of view” and bring something unique to the table.
“And whether you’re really funny and do romcoms, or whether you’re really scary and do horror movies, you need to find out who you are and what your lane is, then work really hard in one area,” he said. “And if you have great success, you can branch out into other things but you want to pick something that you and only you alone can bring to the content world.”
An experienced director in television as well, Little talks more in his book about the differences between directing film and TV, with the first about directing for film studios and independents, and the second part about television.
“They are very different jobs, he said “I do think you have to be prepared when you direct television to realize that it is a committee undertaking. Politically, you’re answering to the network, the studio, the advertisers, the writers, and the stars in particular .”
In terms of analyzing why horror and thriller films are so popular, Little said he thinks heightened emotion plays a huge role.
“I think it has to do with anxiety,” he said. “It’s even more heightened now because of our social media, travel, crime, and so forth, but the world seems so frightening on every sort of level in news and the way the country is at the moment causing people a lot of anxiety.”
When discussing the effects of star power versus a director, Little explained the nuances between the two
“With movie stars obviously, if they’ve been cast in the movie to help finance an affair and they’re a celebrity they have tremendous power,” he said. “Not only are they being paid an enormous amount of money by the studio, but they’re there because they have a reputation and a track record. So, you have to respect work, and accommodate them.”
But, he said, those stars also recognize why you are there, too
“The studio hired you because of your track record, and you’re going to be the one in the cutting room, editing and they know that,” Little said. “So, every performance, camera angle, and creative decision is going to be on you. And there’s a lot of respect that is inherent with the director.”
Throughout the memoir Little talks about some of the actors with whom he’s worked, such as Wesley Snipes, Diane Lane, Ryan O’Neil, Brandon Lee, Steven Seagal and more, recalling specific moments whether uncomfortable or humorous between himself and particular stars and adversaries.
Little’s recent film, “Natty Knocks” a thriller released earlier this year is about a serial killer on the eve of Halloween.
“It’s not a gore fest,” he said. “It’s a very fun throwback Halloween movie. We’ve had people who said it wasn’t gory enough and it’s too tame, and others who love it. It depends on your expectations, but for anybody who just wants to have a fun Halloween thriller I think it’s going to play great.”