First-Time Director Taps Luminaries for Filmmaking Advice in ‘Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker’

The Hollywood documentary Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker, due on digital, DVD and VOD from Random Media Dec. 4, could be seen as a filmmaking class for first-time directors.

“I knew that this was going to be helpful for anybody who wants to make films,” said Jonathan Baker, both the subject of and a maker of the documentary.

Featuring some of the industry’s most iconic filmmakers, Jodie Foster, Taylor Hackford, Adrian Lyne and John Badham, the film explores the process of directing a big-budget feature as each goes over the trials of their first time directing. The documentary, directed by Neal Thibedeau, was created in tandem with Baker’s preparation for and production of his own directorial debut, Inconceivable, starring Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon and Faye Dunaway. The documentary chronicles the “first time” stories of these celebrated directors, combined with Baker’s first time directing.

“To learn from the best and to touch the best you should listen to the best,” said Baker, who was able to leverage connections and friends to create the documentary.

“You’d be very surprised how available people are when they talk about their passion,” Baker said. “I’m a very persistent person. They love this industry as much as I love this industry.”

Baker said he learned something from each of his subjects.

“I learned so much from them,” Baker said. “Every one of them taught me something that I needed to know.”

Baker’s roadblocks and problems in making his first film are intercut with advice from the old hands.

“For instance, Jodie Foster would tell me about how not to get so passionate about one thing and really be malleable and really go in there and not hope that I’m going to get what I want but take what I’m going to get and make it work,” Baker said.

John Badham taught him how to deal with actors, Baker said, and “how to go into the dressing room, how to get into their head and how to take a famous person who has their own journey with this film and, as a director, become respected.”

Adrian Lyne was an instructor on lighting, as well as storytelling.

Taylor Hackford taught him to quickly make decisions and that “you are either wired to be director or you’re not wired to be a director and when you get there is the only time that you’ll ever find out.”

Baker’s trial by fire as a first-time director was a bit less searing because of the instruction from these experienced directors, he said.

“Whatever mistakes I was going to make, 50% of those mistakes didn’t happen because these people gave me the advice that you would never get in school, you would never get unless you had the experience,” Baker said.

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