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July 19, 2019

Braid Director, Mitzi Peirone [Episode 21]

Braid Director, Mitzi Peirone [Episode 21]

“It's a risky thing to do, but I do recommend not giving yourself a choice. If you have a fallback that's too comfy, you won't end up doing enough work to get your first film made… It's an insane process, it's really difficult, and it's really trying,

Mitzi Peirone is a director who blew the minds of many with her beautifully realized and spectacularly insane first feature, Braid. Braid was incredibly intricate and sophisticated while delving into completely bonkers territory at times. The horror element of Braid worked both on the gore front and on the existential front which is a very tough balance to pull off. All of this, coupled with a stunning signature aesthetic made Braid one of the most memorable horror titles from the past few years. 

Braid was Mitzi’s first movie and she got it off of the ground entirely from scratch; no connections, no initial funding, nothing but her wits, creativity, and incredible work ethic. Fascinatingly enough, Braid was funded through cryptocurrency. Mitzi and her executive producer created an equity-based crowdfunding campaign that relied on blockchain. This ensured that anyone who invested in the movie got their money back through the automated currency distribution that blockchain offers.

This was a first-of-its-kind film-funding strategy and a serious innovation that Mitzi was able to pull off. Her story is incredibly inspiring and full of so many golden pieces of advice my head nearly spun. (This was my favorite interview so far). It was so hard to narrow this down to only a few key takeaways so I put down 6.  


  • DON'T kill your darlings. Despite the old Hemingway adage, it’s usually the seemingly extraneous details that don’t quite translate on paper, that make movies great and give directors their signature style. Certain details that might not move the plot forward, can enable more nuanced elements of your movie, such as tone and character development. Producers are always cutting scripts down to make the storytelling as seamless as possible. This is a good instinct but in the process can sometimes strip out the most distinguishing details of a movie. Always listen to the notes but acknowledge why the material is in the screenplay in the first place. Fight the good fight but choose your battles wisely.


  • Innovate. After realizing the limitations of crowdfunding as a non-celebrity, Mitzi knew she needed to find a better way to raise funds. A chance encounter with a blockchain executive inspired her to come up with a more innovative way to raise her funding using cryptocurrency. It was a brilliant idea but it was still a rough road, plagued with multiple disagreements, legal complications, and endless website bugs. But once her blockchain based crowdfunding platform launched, Mitzi raised over $1.5 million for Braid and she was off to the races. 


  • Find executives ready to take risks. Mitzi was a first time director when she made Braid, and stated that if she called on a seasoned film executive with a notable track record, she probably would not have gotten a deal. She recommends finding producers aren’t quite as established yet, so you can go the distance together. Someone less successful may not have the name and notoriety but they have a much bigger incentive to make your movie a success because you are both in it together and both of your futures could be impacted by the project’s success. 


  • Study the humanities. Mitzi was a dedicated student of literature, philosophy, art and psychology, and as a result, brought an extremely sophisticated sensibility to Braid. The movie was psychologically potent, visually stunning, endlessly intriguing, all while still delivering the horror goods! This comes with being well read, and Mitzi recommends immersing yourself in the Greek tragedies, the humanities and Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces. 


  • Get the right actors. In addition to adding realism and believability to your movie, the right actors can also give credibility to your film which attracts funding and producers. If you don’t have the money for their usual fee, make sure the script gives these actors either great exposure or the opportunity to do something they’ve been wanting to do. A great casting director is also a must. 


  • Collaboration. Enable everyone to feel as though they are working with you and not for you. Having a sense of mission on your set, makes the sleepless nights and grueling production schedules way more bearable for your crew and ultimately makes your movie better. Establishing this kind of morale is best accomplished by giving everyone on the crew a voice in the production. The spirit of collaboration is important to have on set because it makes everyone feel personally invested in the project, which in turn inspires them to work harder and more passionately. So on set, make it a village; enable, empower, listen, and make it a mission you are all on together. 



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