13 Highlights From Ava DuVernay’s #ARRAYNow Tweet-a-Thon With More Than 60 Directors

Ava DuVernay Guillermo Del Toro Lulu

Talk about using the power of #FilmTwitter for good.

On Thursday, director Ava DuVernay and her film collective ARRAY unleashed the power of Twitter to educate and inspire the film community with a 10-hour tweet-a-thon event for cinephiles to ask their favorite filmmakers all about how and why they make the movies they’ve made.

More than 60 directors participated in the day-long event, answering questions marked with the hashtag #ARRAYNow and dishing out candid advice and valuable industry knowledge

The full lineup of directors included blockbuster helmers Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman 1984”) and Jon M. Chu (“In the Heights”), breakthrough artists with buzzy upcoming projects Nia DaCosta (“Candyman”) and Radha Blank (“The 40 Year Old Version”), recent Oscar winners Matthew A. Cherry (“Hair Love”) and Peter Ramsey (“Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse”), and industry legends Mira Nair, Julie Dash, Malcolm D. Lee and Guillermo del Toro.

“I wanted this to feel like a virtual hug from filmmakers to film lovers. Hope it did,” DuVernay tweeted to her 2.3 million followers as she closed out the event.

Sharing her own advice in response to a question about using social media to break through “industry red tape,” DuVernay wrote, “That theory assumes that someone is going to help you. Very few of the directors in today’s event took that posture. They committed to their vision and found a way. On the journey, help will come, will be attracted to you. But don’t start from that place of need.”

In honor of DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning documentary “13th,” Variety selected 13 takeaways from the event to share with our readers. For more highlights, check out the Twitter moment or the @ArrayNow account.

Matthew A. Cherry (“Hair Love”)

“Find ways to create your own opportunities. Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with like minded creatives & to raise money so if you build it, they will come. And if not build again & again till they do.”

Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”)

“Let your work and passion drive you, rather than waiting for the industry to change. Be the thermostat, not the thermometer.”

Mira Nair (“Salaam Bombay!,” “A Suitable Boy”)

“Learn your craft. Prepare to be lonely. Cultivate stamina”

Patty Jenkins (“Wonder Woman 1984”)

“I was a camera person for 9 years. At the time I was frustrated I wasn’t directing, but I am SO grateful for the training and grounding it gave me now. Be patient with yourselves everyone! You want to make great things. Not fast things. It takes time.”

Nia DaCosta (“Candyman”)

“The biggest thing for me was finding my voice visually and defending my voice.”


Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”)

Writing is rewriting. The first draft is always draft zero. You should not show it to almost anyone. The third draft starts getting in shape. I never stop writing – even in the shoot – the main thin is to put “everything” you want in that first draft and then … one by one, kill your darlings if they get in the way of the story. I always say: “Less plot, more story”

Cathy Yan (“Birds of Prey”)

“I think it’s good to have both. You want to understand how a movie is physically made and be able to confidently collaborate with your dept. heads. But as a director your job is literally to have a vision. They’re not mutually exclusive!”

Jon M Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians, “In the Heights”)

“Don’t worry about getting recognized. Make great TRUTHFUL stuff and if it’s resonating with people they will come to you. Make stories ONLY YOU can tell…then they will NEED U not the other way around.”

Victoria Mahoney (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” “Lovecraft Country”)

“Biggest challenge was waiting for the industry to catch up to my hunger. Relegated to the sidelines, watching people with less talent, less experience, less skill, less love of the game, get the ball time & again.”

Lee Daniels (“Precious,” “Empire”)

“Relevance begins with yourself. What is relevant to you, what rings true to you, will resonate with the world ultimately.”

Nisha Ganatra (“Late Night,” “The High Note”)

Before starting production, my mom always does a prayer for us for good luck for the production and to Ganesh for obstacles to be removed. It’s pretty common in the Indian film industry — and it is always such a special and grounded way to start a new production”

Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love & Basketball,” “The Old Guard”)

“Your first film/script should announce to the world who you are. So write a story that is personal, write a story only you can tell. And make sure it is dope.”

Steven Caple Jr. (“Creed II”)

“Know the difference between your instincts and your ego (everyone has both) instincts = your creative sensibilities. Who you are. Ego = self esteem. you need a little bit of an ego to pull that s— off. But making decisions based on your ego = negligence”