My Directing Style

Or, rather, I should say, the style I intend as I become and grow as a director.  I feel a movie is made (or screwed up) five times: when the script is written, when it’s directed, as it’s filmed and acted and when it’s edited.  Since my intention is to direct what I write, I feel it’s incumbent on me to give extra space for the other elements, and intend to act more as a guide while directing, rather than as a task master.

The script is but one vision of the film. The one I have as I labor creating imagery I feel will be interesting and entertaining.  Writing is a lonely thing, so the images I have are, necessarily, myopic.  I do ask for feedback from people I trust, so get some help with some of the images, but the bulk are mine.  Sometimes they come easy, other times it may take days, or even weeks, to develop.  But I view them as a starting point, not an end in and of itself.  The script, as written, is intended to entice producers, investors, cast and crew to sign on, but once the team has been assembled, I lose ownership of the script and it becomes property of the team.

Since I had a clear goal for each scene and each character, it’s easy for me to reflexively say, this or that is ‘correct’ while the other thing is ‘wrong.’  Please ignore that.  I’m a born asshole and have a rude and unfortunate knee jerk (emphasis on ‘jerk;’ just ask my wife) response to things that don’t fit in my world view.  However, my goal is to build a team that, individually and collectively, are smarter and better at their jobs than I could ever be, so please call me out when I’m being an asshole and telling you how to do your job.  While I would like to capture a take close to my original vision, I also want to have lots of material for the editor, and fully believe that the scene I originally envisioned can be made better by others.  This is why I’m starting down this path as a director, to have the joy in serendipity, when the smarter-than-me cast and crew take my scripted raw material and make something far better than I originally envisioned.

From a cinematography point of view, I favor the idea of getting coverage by having multiple cameras running with each take.  While there will certainly be times when the cinematographer and/or editor feel shots are needed that preclude this possibility, I feel the actors can give a more authentic performance when they’re playing off each other.  Hopefully, I can find a DP that will share my vision.  But I intend to hire a DP that’s much smarter than I am (which shouldn’t be that high a bar; though I understand the physics of what’s going on and have studied integrated circuit fabrication, have some understanding of optics and studied glamor photography in some depth, I don’t pretend to be a cinematographer any more than I pretend to be an actor or editor), so will yield to the DP’s expertise.

I’ve read about acting and intend to be an actor friendly director, but I don’t have the guts to be one.  That doesn’t mean I won’t demand the actor do their job, and I expect them to internalize the character such that they don’t have to recite their lines, the dialog flows naturally from the interactions.  My intent is to minimize rehearsals, beyond blocking, because I want each take to be fresh and spontaneous.  I want the actors to interpret the characters, to own them.  While each scene can be done any number of ways, and I would like to see them all, there’s a timetable that needs to be adhered to.  Having said that, it takes much longer to set up for a scene than to shoot it, so I want to spend extra time capturing any favored alternative interpretations the actors have for each scene.

These extra interpretations are fodder for the editor, the last chance to salvage (or ruin) the movie.  My intention is to begin working with the editor before production and with the DP, to discuss options before schedules are set in stone.  I would like to have the editor working with material as it’s being made, so they can identify any missing pieces when it costs almost nothing to fill them in.

I view being a director like being a dungeon master in a role playing game: I create the world and the set pieces, the players (cast and crew) bring the game to life with their choices and interactions.  Making a movie is a partnership and everyone involved contributes to the completed result.

Author: mitusents

Biochemist, MBA, then programmer. Now novelist, screenplay writer and hopefully director. What a strange trip it's been.