View Full Version : DP and directing

06-05-2004, 06:55 AM
I am curious for those who have DP'd and also directed on the same project. Was it difficult to concentrate on the quality of the scene being acted, while also having to concentrate on getting the shot right.

What are some of the opinions if you had your choice...of only wearing one hat during the shoot...DP or Director...or do you feel that having personal control over both is preferred.

Neil Rowe
06-05-2004, 07:15 AM
i think that sometimes it is hard to pay attention to the acting from the directing standpoint when your dp..espescially if being dp means your the cam operator for the project too..(low budget like me). but for the most part i personally only run into that when the shot is pretty complex or complicated. otherwise, after you do it for a while.. its a bit like looking at stuff as your driving. you can look at stuff, and still drive on the road and pay attention without even thinking. in the same way, after a while..you can watch the acting, and just flow through your shot to hold composition and framing and focus changes and such without thinking.

06-05-2004, 07:21 AM
I DP 95% of the films I direct. While I'd like to get a DP, most of the time this is unrealistic, with the insanely low budget situation.

What I've done to get past the problem of paying atttention to one thing or the other, is hold rehearsals. If in the rehearsals, your actors get the scenes down pat, then when it comes to the day of the shoot, you end up being able to just let them do what you already have directed them to.

And IAL is exactly right, after a while, you end up being able to do both things at the same time, paying attention to the actors *and* the cinematography. I usually end up thinking as if I'm watching a movie when I'm looking in the viewfinder, the same judgement I'd give a real movie I give this. And having rehearsed the scenes to death, the actors pretty much know what you want anyways, so I haven't had much of a problem...

06-05-2004, 09:50 AM
I think it's OK if you follow a hitchcock/mamet style of directing, or if you really don't have the budget for it. But if you need to direct actors, run the set, know what the next shot is, or if you are on schedule, either you DP and direct but have a very competent AD, or you better get someone to DP it for you...

06-05-2004, 10:58 AM
That *is* true. I've not had a problem, but I've always had a kick ass AD.

06-05-2004, 07:57 PM
Being in the same low to no-budget boat as most of the people on this board, I, too, usually shoot my own stuff, and always operate camera. That said, the more ambitious the project, the more important delegation of duties is; you simply can't keep track of or deal with every nuance, every element of your shoot by yourself, especially with regards to the lighting, camera movement, and performances.

Yes, there are plenty of director/DP's, especially in the music video and commercial world, but if you have the budget or a good DP willing to work for free, better to do that than do it all yourself.

It's certainly possible to keep an eye on your shot, your lighting, and performances, and as a director, you should be doing this anyway, but in general, it's better to delegate responsibility, since it can be a distraction to have to worry about all three elements during a take, because you can't give your full attention to all of them at once.

06-06-2004, 09:14 PM
I'm with Stas. If you're doing both jobs, your attention is going to be divided and something will suffer. It's one thing if you've got a micro-crew of 3-4 people, but if your crew is larger, than managing the talent plus the crew is a job in itself. I guess a lot depends on the experience level of your crew. I tend to work with crews that have a wide mix of experience levels and the talent and crew need some care and feeding. If you work with pros or experienced crews, than it only takes a few words to get something accomplished.

06-11-2004, 11:49 AM
I'm totally the Rodriguez-style director, as in, if I can do it all, I WILL do it all(write, storyboard, produce, direct, edit, DP, act in main lead,marketing)! I have my vision and I'm not going to pay someone else to take money, experience, and fame that should be going to yours truly. We're at a point where we have easy access to cameras like the DVX, NLE's, DVD's with how-to documentaries, places like DVXUser.com to get info, etc., and it's come to the point where it just doesnt pay to only be a "director only", or a "editor only"-a point where you better learn and do as much as you can or be left in the dust. Most importantly, besides efficiency, you also save budget by doing things you would otherwise pay other people to do.

Neil Rowe
06-11-2004, 11:51 AM

thats also a good wasy to lose sleep and hair..LOL but i do agree.. :)

06-11-2004, 12:22 PM
-sleep? What's that? :D Probably reason #2 or #3 we all like Fight Club: we as aspiring filmakers can all identify with Ed Norton/Jack's insomnia and its "effects" on the mind.

Neil Rowe
06-11-2004, 12:26 PM
LOL .. seriously though ive really found that life and general, and creativly is much better when you get enough sleep. i rarely do.. but id really like to. and i try very hard to get a reasonable amount each night.

06-11-2004, 03:23 PM
I recently directed and DP'd for the first time (before I'd always had a DP), and it's not something I would do again if I could help it. The way I see it, there are two ways to do your own photography. One is to make the decisions and delegate. The other, which I just did because of a lack of crew, is to actually move and set lights and move the camera. The former, I would guess, wouldn't be as strenuous. The latter is very difficult and, needless to say, takes away time that could be spent working with actors and just plain thinking about coming-up shots.

Editing is a similar situation, because most directors, though fully capable of cutting film or video, work with editiors, because one needs another pair of eyes (another opinion) and someone who sees the footage objectively.

06-11-2004, 10:47 PM
At the very least, I try to have a camera operator. It's simply too much to mind the lights AND the camera operation at the same time, and I'd rather handle the lighting than run the camera if I have to do one. I always forget to do something, like check my focus, when I have to do all three (lighting, operating, directing).

06-12-2004, 09:53 PM
Basically after reading what everyone is saying... you can really do whatever you want... involve yourself is as many different aspect of the film as you feel. Different people have different styles and different strong points. Just go with that.

Tim Burton for example is very strong when it comes to his art direction. His films then end up having a very distinct style to the content. Sodenburg LOVES to DP his own films because that's what he feels will get him the desired results... some directors have a hand in everything, some only in very few. It's up to you and how much you feel you can handle as well as what aspects of the movie is most important to you. Then delegate the rest...