For our upcoming short film project, I put myself forward as the director of the piece. Directing is a role that i’ve always enjoyed and had success with in the past. For this project however, I wanted to take it 1 step further and see it as a purely professional project as I would out in the ‘real world’.
So what does a ‘film director’ do? Here’s a quick definition;
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film’s artistic and dramatic aspects, while guiding the technical crew and actors.
Personally I feel I have great management and communication skills which are key in the art of directing. I also have a great eye for detail, and I am hard-working which are again 2 characteristics needed in this role.
I needed to get more of a feel of directing on a shoot. So I had a look at a few videos of directors in action. Peter Jackson, currently working on The Hobbit is one of my directing hero’s. He has been keeping a video blog whilst on set, and this video eludes to what he does on a day to day basis;
So being a director is not just about sitting on a chair and shouting, action and cut. You are involved in the whole project and you oversee everything. It’s all about getting the public seeing your vision, and your management and creative skills achieve this. Communication is key.
So how did the role of directing come about. From what I can see, Thomas Edison who invented the motion picture camera can be classed as the first director of a film sequence during the testing process, but it is perhaps Louis Le Prince’s who directed the oldest surviving film, ‘Roundhay Garden Scene’ who actually directed people in a film. Information before that is scarce and unreliable.
One of the main points that famous directors make is that you need to have a great relationship with the actors. They are the ones that make your dreams and ambitions a reality on the screen and these are the people that the audience will respond to.
You only have to look at the biggest names in the business to see that this is true. Take these for example.
- Martin Scorsese & Robert De Niro (8 films)
- Tim Burton & Johnny Depp (8 films)
- Peter Jackson & Andy Serkis (5 films)
- Steven Soderbergh & Matt Damon/George Clooney (6 films)
To give us a hand, Filmnation came in to give us a masterclass in the art of directing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go due to being ill, but our groups DOP, Govie Singh stood in. He took notes and videos from the day
The day started of with a couple of warm up games so each person can softly give out orders in order to construct a scene. Three people to a group. One person makes a stance, one person explains the stance and the last person has to make the stance according to the orders being given.
The second tasks was that we were given a script, which we had to read thoroughly. The actors that we worked with were Hamsil and Frankie. They performed for us and from that we had to reproduce the scene as we saw fit. We got into groups of five and went for it. Judging by the script everyone kind of produced the same work, it had the same feel to it in terms of personalities, the cameras were quite close and were catching the essence of the characters, however they told us to completely swap it around. They then showed us countless ways in which the script could be performed. One was a russian spy game, one was a playerish game, and one was a nerd asking out a girl. All these worked for the script and all that changed was the directors view of it.
After the tasks we had a Q&A with the actors and the conversation went into depth, that your actors are really important to your films, because they are going to make your films what they are. so in terms importance of your film your actors are on top of the list. After everything we had done today this is what it came down to; the relationship between actor and director. Keep constant talking with your actors to make sure there doing okay, tell them that they are doing well and keep telling them stuff to do, in order for them to act in a certain situation explain the story to them so they can get there real emotions on show and feed them. All these things are important in terms of keeping you actors alive for your production. The last thing that was said was organisation. Never call the actor until your set up and ready o shoot, it wastes your time and their time and they won’t want to work with you again.
Ever since I was a child, I always had the ambition to become a film director. I take most of directing inspiration from people like Tim Burton, Peter Jackson, Steven Soderbergh and Takeshi Kitano. The latter has inspired me a lot. I love his deadpan style in his earlier films then changing his approach to use controversy to it’s potential whilst keeping a massive amount of humor. For this short film, I am looking to take influence from Nicolas Winding Refn who has directed my favorite film over the past 2 years, ‘Drive’. I decided to watch his interview from the Sundance Film Festival. He believe’s that you need to “Eat, sleep and drink your film when your a director”. That’s the way I am feeling at the moment, I’m always thinking of new ideas for films, and i’m finding that with our current film idea, I’m waking up during the night with new endings and new lines to put in the film. I love how sophisticated he makes all his characters seem, but on the grand scheme of things, they are simple but in a very complex situation. I also believe his stance on ‘the less dialogue, the better’. It’s important that the audience feel what the character feels, and people do feel emotion just by the look of somebody.
This is what I want to get across in this short film. I want the characters in the film to influence the audience whilst building up tension for the reveal shot. It’s important that I get this across to the actors for them to portray their roles well. So with this in mind, I have set up a Skype meeting with both actors to get them thinking the way I am. For DCI Scott, I want him to be very mysterious and in the background of the film, I want people to think “Who is this police officer, we havent seen him”. Then with him having the major line in the piece it’s going to have major impact. My skills are going to be used to the max on the shooting day, so I will have to think carefully what I want in each scene. Like all good directors, plan ahead!