Eli Roth’s Practical Filmmaking Advice


By Mark Hodge (doddleNEWS)

Whether you like his work or not, director Eli Roth is an example for anyone wanting to carve out a career in movies. The film school graduate cut his teeth making shorts through out the 1990s, before making his debut feature Cabin Fever (2002), with a budget of $1.5 million, which he raised independently.

Now, after successfully directing several films, including Hostel and Hostel: Part II, Knock Knock, and the upcoming Death Wish remake, Roth has divulged some rather practical advice (via MovieMaker) to anybody wanting to helm a feature:

  1. Get as much experience as possible. This is undoubtedly the golden rule. Make as many short films as humanly possible and also get as much on-set experience as you can.
  2. Keep your eye on the prize. David Lynch, an early mentor to Roth, told the young rookie that no matter how much chaos surrounded his project, he should never lose sight of the end product. Above all else, what appears on the screen is what is important.
  3. Hire attractive girls as stand-ins. Yes, he really isn’t joking. Apparently, male crew members actually behave better when there are beautiful females around.
  4. Balance of males and females. Roth clearly favours young and single crew members, because they will be more motivated to come to work if there is a chance of a date.
  5. A list of the day’s shot. Aside from listing what scenes are to be shot, Roth also provides a daily list of the shots that are to completed, including ‘time-permitting’ shots. This break down of the day’s work makes the crew move faster towards their goal.
  6. Good catering. Self-explanatory really, people like food, so have a generous mix of health and junk snacks.
  7. Don’t be scared to be the boss. The director insists that firing someone can actually be a good thing. While it’s good for everyone to get along, over-familiarity can lead to incompetence. For further clarification, refer to rule number 2.
  8. Be appreciative. Remember to thank crew members for their hard work, no matter who they are. If people feel valued, then they tend to work harder.
  9. Music motivation. Both Roth and Quentin Tarantino play upbeat songs between takes, motivating the crew to move faster.
  10. Enjoy yourself. If you are actually privileged to direct a film, try and have fun. A happy film set means a more productive crew.

What is fantastic about Roth’s insights, is that they all relate to bringing a film in on time and budget, which is crucial when trying to further your career within the industry. Be sure to check out filmmaker and actor Mark Duplass’ tips, too.

About Mark Hodge

Mark Hodge is a journalist and copywriter from Glasgow, Scotland. As well as being involved in film festivals in the UK, Mark has also worked as a sports reporter covering soccer matches in his home country. In fact, he even attended the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, helping to document the cultural impact of the event on the city. He also writes for The Huffington Post covering topics such as film, sports and politics.


  1. davidpetersonharvey says:

    Encouraging people to discriminate in their hiring practices based on a person’s sex or marital status is a really bad idea. Not only is it an unfair workplace practice, it’s also illegal. Sexually charged motivation can also lead to problems on the set, as I’ve discovered. In fact, handling sexual harassment complaints became such a problem that I created a video training program (which has made me a tidy profit) to help people understand sexual harassment.

    Time spent handling complaints of this nature is time away from production. If you’re working a shoot with fifteen or more contractors or employees, your production company is subject to anti-discrimination laws and could be met with lawsuits and EEOC filings if you handle your business incorrectly.

    Perhaps you could use an article about ethics in filmmaking in the near future. I find that actors and crew give more and act better if they know the people behind the camera are scrupulous and want to help them achieve success.

    • Heath McKnight says:

      That’s definitely Mr. Roth’s tip and advice, and we at doddleNEWS don’t condone it. We hope he is more respectful than what he’s preaching.