Sunday, 17 October 2010

Tip #50: Have a director with a vision

By Dan Parkes (Director)

"What is the difference between God and a director? God doesn't direct".

That was a sarcastic comment made to me after a recent blog which mentined that in addition to directing I also sometimes DoP. Of course the inference being that directors believe themselves to be "God"! And with the symbols of directing often being the cap, the beard, the megaphone and the chair, this egomanical stereotype has also unfortunately been impressed into the general public's consciousness by several high profile directors so that their real role on set is lost to such clichés.

In reality a director has an extremely difficult and mostly less-than-glamourous job of being ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the film, and often working on multiple levels at once: helping actors create realistic portrayals while at the same time taking into consideration technical options and limitations, scheduling and budgetery contraints. He or she is a conduite of collective creativity, the one who hones this into a single unified vision. Their passion and subsequent direction of the production can sometimes be misinterpreted as 'ego' -especially if their vision does not agree with cast or crew who become disgruntled due to being overworked or their creative input being ignored, something which directors should be keenly aware to avoid.

When the word "director" is used in another setting -such as a company director, or directing traffic- few would attribute this purely to ego, but out of necessity of having someone who has a clear vision and helps unify everyone towards that objective. Rather than fighting with a director over the vision it is important that cast and crew realise the necessity of having a director in the first place and their responsibility to trust -rightly or wrongly -that they have a strong overall vision and hence in many respects the final say. Films -like some other aspects of life- are difficult to make by committee.

It is hence the manner in which a director goes about that process which can dictate their success in achieving a unified vision. It is absolutely vital to the production that they have a strong and clear vision of the film. They should be able to describe the look, feel and message of the film in detail before a frame of film has been shot. But then also be flexible enough to encourage cast and crew to have creative input, and try to include it as much as possible.

In the following blogs we are going to look at the different types of directing styles, the art of communicating with cast and crew, and some basic creative considerations such as blocking, eye-lines, crossing the line, and filming several takes of the same shot.

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