View Full Version : Directing from behind the camera...

07-02-2004, 11:44 PM
Any advice for Directing say a Music Video from behind the camera? I may have to have an assistant on set and their job will be to watch the scene playout and notify me when someone screws up if I don't notice it in the camera.

07-03-2004, 07:55 AM
So basically, you're gonna be the DoP? But you'll still have creative control over the performances, right?

Well, if that's the case, I'd just be sure to trust my AD, or whoever it is that's notifying you of you actors' flubs. If you can put all your faith in him, then you shouldn't have a problem...

It shouldn't be too hard though, either, to monitor performances at the same time as looking through the viewfinder...but if it proves to be difficult to you, then it probably would be best to either a) get a DoP or b) don't direct. If you really can't do the two at once, you should probably be only doing one...

07-03-2004, 07:27 PM
I have done both jobs on past work. I have worked on big budget sets as a PA and I can remember seeing a person that watched closely to all the takes to make sure everything went as planned and to make sure the continuity stayed the same. I remember another person script supervisor maybe? was jotting down timecodes and notes that was called out to them. I should be able to handle a Music Video on my own as I don't have a big budget for an elaborate set up.

07-04-2004, 05:02 AM
Right on...if you're up to it, go for it!

Good luck with the shoot!

07-04-2004, 06:57 AM
You are not thinking about the most important thing here: performance.

Continuity, the way a shot looks, a dolly move, etc., all that is secondary to performances. Many great flms use takes that are not good technically but have something special going on with the actors - because that's what really matters.

If you seriously want to be a good director - you need to watch the actors - or the musicians if it's a music video. There's a million guys who can point a camera and shoot and light and edit (some better than others of course), but what makes a director good is their ability to get great performances from actors (or musicians who are acting for their video.)

If you want someone to "monitor" something, have someone monitor the technical aspect of the shot while you look at performance. Many directors don't even look at the monitor during takes, they stand next to the actors so they can truly see what they're doing. Jimmy Burrows ("Cheers", "Frasier", "Will & Grace") is famous for this. He looks at the monitors while setting up the shots then never looks again while shooting.

On my last film, I let the DP/operator set up the shots, I looked at the monitor, then when we were rolling I watched the actors from a few feet away and let the DP/operator look at the monitor.

I highly recommend that you get someone else to operate so you can do what's truly important.

People watch people in films, not camera moves or shot composition.

07-04-2004, 10:09 AM
I totally understand your point because I have a BA Degree in Theater and have been in many Plays, a few Movies, and a TV show. So I know what you mean. As for watching the screen...since I have experience in front as well as behind the camera, I tend to take more notice in shot composition and the way a film or music video is edited, especially if the acting is not good. I always look at films from a technical point of view. Don't get me wrong I watch the actors and performers as well....

07-04-2004, 02:21 PM
I'd suggest against watching the actors, and not a screen, while directing actually...

I too agree that performances are the most important part of the director's job, but what looks good in real life doesn't neccesarily come across on screen, and vice-versa. If you can intimately watch the *actors* in the frame, you then see what your eventual audience will see - and you're still paying full attention to the actors. But this way, you get to make sure everything is coming across properly on film.

07-04-2004, 10:25 PM
I'd also prefer to pay attention to the actors and let someone else watch the monitor. However, there are plenty of directors who also act as their own DPs and operate the camera. Off the top of my head, I can think of Steven Soderbergh and Robert Rodriguez.

07-05-2004, 06:47 AM
For the distinction between getting on your feet or watching from the video tent, I think it's a question of style. Some prefer to see on TV and know exactly they will be printing. Others like to stay with the actors as they find they need to create this "truth" in the acting that is harder to do from the video assist. I've seen great pictures done in both ways, so I just recommend you do as it feels more confortable. My option is to bee up with the actors, because I can give more feedback, make the actors more confortable and run my little Ed Wood-like set.

07-05-2004, 11:23 AM
I wouldn't suggest talking any less with the actors...only monitoring their performances through the camera - not to monitor the cinematography as well, but to see what their performances *will* look like when it's done...

But it does all have to do with style, so definitely do what you're most comfortable with.

07-05-2004, 11:48 AM
Talent are like race horse. They can be very high strung, and sometimes need a tug at the reigns, but respond best to gentle words and honest discussion from a director they respect. I would spend time off set getting to know your talent. Believe it or not, a ROPES course is a great way to get your cast into each other and yourself.

07-09-2004, 12:54 AM
I believe if you want to direct then you should just focus on that. DP work is a lot of time and patience. Especially when they have to coordinate with the lighting director for proper lighting. A lot of time the DP does both. Then if you don't have script supervisor then DP has to keep track of the takes also. Then adding directing is too much. You would most likely lose focus of what is important in your film and will just be too occupied with angles and continuity. Delegation is a sigh of success and good directors always deligate to AD's, DP's and the rest of the crew. As for look directly at the actors vs seeing it on monitors it is a personal preference. But doing some quality rehearsals before actual rolling will help get the mood set and hopefully you catch problems before hand and make adjustments early on...not to mention making sure your actors will hit their marks when needed.

07-09-2004, 01:50 PM
Rehearsals are definitely a must in my books. It's crazy seeing how good performances can get with enough time spent on them

07-09-2004, 10:14 PM
I am one of those directors who wants to be DP's who want to direct just because he loves the dang camera so much.
but I think smithy gave a good advice to everyone here. well, so did everyone else.
For me, its easy to direct and shoot because I believe if what I see on the screen works then it works. but in the long run, i'd probably end up DPing or just directing but still loving the camera. I love camera. can't get over it. i love DVX.

All in all, all film directors should love the camera because it is their tool.

07-16-2004, 05:20 PM
I donīt think there anything wrong doing both things at the same time.
Itīs one of the things that digital video brings.
I normally direct and donīt touch the camera. But i believe in the future (and in the present) i will do both things. I didnīt before just cause i was not ready to do it.
Watching the performance live throuhg the camera is enough to see if the take is good or not. Even with the eyes close you could know if the take was good.
And if you doubt just rewind the tape and have another look.
Doing both jobs make it different. It means another way of filming. Cannot be use in a tradicional way.
Itīs more like an improvisation. Normally with long takes. No tripod. Following them instead of they follow or watch for the camera.
Whenever I film something, and with good actors, i see that in the middle of the shot i lost completely the sense of what i wanned before (all what i planned just gone for good). I just let myself lost in the soul of the character. I feel like the character gets the power and i am just a mirror that tries to upreise their interpretation.
If i just direct i probably loose 20% percent of thast feeling. And i got more worried of telling the DP to move the camera in certain moment. Which can be good if you know how the actor is going to act but that just unrealistic.

You all talk too much about Soderbergh but the best use i saw of these multiplicity itīs been done by Lars Von Triers in Godville. I watched a documentary of the shotting and it was curius how he managed to get great interpretations of their actors. The same in Dancers in the Dark. And with some changes in the Cassavettes films, where (especially Faces and Shadows) he use to get the camera too.
Both guys use to get great actings.

07-17-2004, 12:39 AM
travis I think you were right on with that comment. I do lost focus when I direct. but now that you mention it, I think that maybe I find something else while the scene plays out. .. and I thought it was my attention span.

thanks for your words.