Tips for directing – Part 1

The Directors chair: simultaneously the bossiest as well as possibly the least physically demanding job. Aside from the clapperboard guy...

Following on from my most successful blog post so far (10 tips for generating creativity – Parts 1 and 2), I’ve decided to lay down some tips to help potential future directors.

1. You’re the top dog. Remember this. You (and possibly the producer) have final say on things. Actors want to improvise some dialogue? It’s up to you. Lighting technician thinks a different kind of light would be better? It’s up to you. You make the calls, people look to you for leadership.

2. Assembly required. Assemble your crew – editor, lighting people, music and sound people, etc… You work as a team, and you’re in charge, top dog and you need to make sure that the team work to their best abilities, so you’ll need people that are easy to get on with for group unity. Any friction and it’s up to you to sort out. Anybody not being professional and not pulling their weight should also be dealt with. Saying that, the opposite is also true, your positive energy can inspire your crew. Don’t forget that.

Peter Jackson with a RED camera. His dedication to film inspires his cast and crew. It would be an amazing experience to work with him onset

3. It’s never good enough. One of my failings on previous work has been the attitude of “it’ll do”. Don’t give in to it. The scene will never live up to it’s full potential, because as a perfectionist (as all people who work in an art should consider themselves), there’s always something you can do to enhance your work. But, and this is a very big but, you have to let go eventually. Basically, make a great effort, but know when enough is enough. After all, a sage bit of advice that has been bestowed upon me from my darling Emily King: “done is better than perfect” – Don’t waste your time perfecting one bit if it means sacrificing time on the rest.

4. Fewer takes are better. This is a golden rule. If a shoot goes well, you don’t need to do it again. You should be practising the script enough so that it should go right the first time. For obvious reasons, this doesn’t always work, but it’s better for everyone all round if you do as few takes as possible – especially for the editor. Choosing a single good take is quicker and better than having to choose between 5 perfectly good takes.

5. Planning is key. Feeding into the idea of practising, everything should be as planned out as possible. Everyone should know what to do and when to do it. If somebody doesn’t, it’s your failing for not filling them in enough, or making your vision clear enough, and you’ll waste time, energy and money.

The next 5 tips are here.

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