Thinking of Directing?
Updated: Jul 27, 2022
Last Thursday's session began with the latest Ugg Competition. Film makers were asked to present an interview video. We ended up viewing 4 and all were made to a high standard and were thoroughly enjoyable..
Col Tretheway began with his Interview with an author and film maker.
What an interesting subject for an interview!
Murray Mills created an expose on our very own Paul Michaels. Giving it some extra thought and planning, Murray came up with the idea of making it a pilot for an interview TV game show. It seems to have paid off as he won the vote for the evening.
Peter Waterman, although absent on his trip out west, still managed to enter two movies. It seems that you just need to go out back to find a bunch of extraordinary characters. Once again, he found those in 'Ben's Chicken Races'; and 'Leah Lever Songbird'. Both films were warm, delightful and fascinating.
Following supper, Col Tretheway returned to play the video he created for the digital part of his 'Story as a film maker'. This film conveys the breadth of experiences that Col has racked up and demonstrates his consistency as a quality movie maker.
We were very pleased to see two new faces, who presented pitches for the Eleven Tomorrow's project. Heather Jones pitched a futuristic drama about end of life involving a hologram of the deceased at a funeral and the confusion this may cause to relatives. Heather had clearly given this a lot of thought and has her ideas ready to go.
Michael Major pitched that he would like to create a film that links architecture with the impact on our state of mind. He had several ideas about directions and what it could look like. It certainly looks like this would be worth exploring further for the Eleven Tomorrows project.
I would personally like to thank Jenny and Jonathon for offering to forego their 'Journey as a Film Maker' to another time. It sounds like you both have a very interesting presentation in store for us and we look forward to sharing it with you. Thanks for being so thoughtful.
We finished with my presentation of 'Tips for Directing'. I would preface the following discussion to say this: I am an amateur film maker and although I have directed a number of films (mostly at school, for school), I have never directed a commercial project. I have directed two projects outside of school (The Garden; and Lachlan Runs Free').
The aim of this presentation was to encourage those who have not tried directing to consider that they could do it with the right tools and preparation. If someone is a scriptwriter, or has buy-in into a movie project, they should consider it as they care about the look and feel of the final project.
What is a Director?
The director is responsible for the creative development of a film project. Working closely with the Producer (who manages the business side of a movie planning and production), the Director 'directs'. ie: Advises and guides both cast and crew in developing a movie production in order to create the 'vision' for the film.
Creating a Vision
In order to create this 'vision', directors need to plan for and consider many things such as location, the correct cast, crew who are capable of achieving specific visual or sound goals eg: Drone, Go Pro, Green Screen etc. It is important that a Director work closely with the Producer in a 'partnership' of sorts. Choosing cast would certainly be most likely done in consult with the Producer.
Due to time constraints, I didn't get to tell a couple of stories that I wanted to share about my Directing experiences. When we were doing 'The Garden', we needed to present two clearly different homes. However, working on a budget, I wondered how I could do this using my own home for the entire shoot. I ended up placing a green screen behind 'Marto' for the opening scene and changing the colour to make it look like there was a beige wall behind him. Later in the film, we wanted to show this amazing garden from an 'over the shoulder' perspective. We used green screen and shot that in the lounge room (it was supposed to be an outside shot). I also experimented with laying green fabric on the lawn, hoping that a drone shot could allow us to make the garden look amazing from the air. It didn't work, but it was fun trying. We didn't include it. Half the battle as a Director is knowing what to cut.
They say 'Never work with children or animals' as both of these present challenges for Directors. In 'Lachlan Runs Free', we worked with both. I was really happy with the child actors as they showed talent, maturity and a commitment to the craft of acting. We needed parental permissions and communicated with parents the whole way, keeping them in the loop. We had parents on set the whole day of the shoot, which you need to do, to keep things legally safe. As for animals, the first dog we tested had the right look, but wasn't quite skilled enough. After much brain storming with the Producer, Phil Huber, we came up with an awesome Dog and owner. The only issue we had was that towards the end of the shooting with the dog, she was becoming tuckered out.
If you want to try and Direct, you need to be prepared and you need to work hard. There are a number of essential tools that you need to get used to using. These include:
A Call Sheet
A Shot List
A Story Board
Never run with the first script. Be prepared to edit it for length and quality. You may do multiple drafts until you are happy with it. It must be engaging and will need to run to the identified film length that you require. As film is a visual medium, use 'more show and less tell'. The goal of this is to have more an emotive connection with the viewer and it will be more engaging.
The Call Sheet
All actors and crew members will expect to receive a 'Call Sheet' well in advance of a shoot. Lining up all cast and crew to be available on a certain day is difficult, so do this early. A call sheet identifies locations (with maps), start and finish times of each individual, props required, times of when each scenes is to be shot etc. It is a critical document that is referred to multiple times before the shoot and during the shoot.
The Shot List
A Director must turn up to a shoot with a clear idea of how each scene will be shot. Usually formed in discussions with the DOP (Director of Photography), this document identifies the types of shots (eg: Wide; close up; long shot etc); specific camera or lens requirements (eg: Drone, gopro, zoom lens etc). Most scenes will require more than one camera angle to be most effective. By constantly referring to the shot list and consulting with your DOP, you will look in control and like you know what you are doing. Cast and Crew need to know that.
The Story Board
A story board is kind of like a comic book. It is where you go to the trouble of visualising exactly what you want your shots to look like. These are often sketched, sometimes artistically or could just be basic line drawings of stick figures. I preferred to use Book Creator app on an ipad. It has a comic book feature. You can use the camera to take pictures. By placing a substitute actor(s) into a dummy scene, you can gain a feeling of camera angles and how the scene may look. By using text tools, you can add much detail to your story board.
Directing is a tough, challenging job but it is rewarding. After all, you have the creative direction of a movie that involves the coordination of a team of actors, extras and crew. If you have a script that you have written and are passionate about, maybe you should consider stepping up and playing Director if it is going to be produced. The keys to swimming as opposed to sinking include: communication with all concerned; being respectful to everyone; and using the essential tools as listed above.