David Dobkin’s directorial work spans everything from big brand commercials for the likes of ESPN, Heineken, Honda, and Playstation, to feature films like Wedding Crashers, The Judge, and Clay Pigeons. This October his TV series Badlands will be released.
We caught up with David to discuss his approach to art, wanting career performances from Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr., and his mysterious and crazy new TV series…
In your own mind, what is “The Judge” about?
For me, “The Judge” is a film about family and how we all play a role in the hardships of trying to connect and love one another. Life is hard – that’s a fact. And eventually, in our minds, each of us becomes the judge and jury of the ones we love. If we don’t find a way to put down the gavel and reconnect as people who love and care about one another, the price we pay is a mighty one. The sentence is for life. So, hard as it may be, compassion, understanding, forgiveness – these are the only keys out of that jail cell.
You’ve worked in comedy, drama, and music video. How do you approach each of the avenues and are there any similarities?
They are all the same to me. Canvas, paint, ideas, execution. The only difference is what colors you choose. What experience you are creating. What concepts you want to explore. Expressive joy? Quiet solitude? Heart-pounding feat? Explosive laughter? It’s art and it’s meant to connect with the viewer and illicit a powerful and lasting reaction. But the tools and application all come from the same box of opportunity.
Is it difficult to transition from intense dramatic feature to crashing weddings with Maroon 5?
It was easy, of course! We all walk the full range of emotion daily as human beings. After one has been melancholy for some time it’s refreshing to break out and laugh and dance awhile!
How did “The Judge” come to you? What was it like developing that story?
“The Judge” was a short story I wrote after my mother passed away. Developing it into a screenplay, and then later a film, was a very cathartic and rewarding experience.
What was it like directing veterans like Robert Duvall (who was Oscar nominated for his role) and Robert Downey Jr.?
It’s always a wonderful gift to be able to work with the best talent there is. Downey and Duvall are without a doubt each one of the very best of their respective generations. But just because they are amazing doesn’t mean that you can sit back and relax. In fact, I feel a duty when I am given such an opportunity to swing for the fences – to direct a career performance that will stand amongst the best work they’ve ever done. So, I set a high bar for everyone going in. If you’re going to suit up and take the field, go to win a championship.
Can you tell us anything about the upcoming Badlands TV series you are directing?
It’s a brilliant show, and not easy to describe. But here goes… It’s set 500 years in the future, post-a great extinction that wiped out most of humanity, and those that are left survive in a world that has turned the clock back to a time of feudal societies run by warlords who command martial arts armies. Anything more I tell you will be just as mysterious and crazy! Catch it in October on AMC… It’ll all make sense then!