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Jim Brennan
04-12-2005, 07:44 PM
A lot of you probably take this for granted, but I will be directing someone else's script for the first time, and I'm a little intimidated. I've directed my own, and had other people direct scripts that I have written, but this is different.

I learned as a writer that a director often has a very different take on the script. I've also learned a few unpleasant lessons when I haven't been clear about something, and a director shoots it in way that doesn't make sense to me or the story. I don't want to do that.

Aside from discussing a shot list, possibly some story boards, and having a lot of discussions with the writer about his own vision, does anyone have any suggestions for me?

Tlalconetl
04-12-2005, 07:58 PM
why can't you just direct it the way YOU "see" it?

TC
04-12-2005, 08:14 PM
I've never actually directed someone else's work, but I have been on the set of someone who has. I'll let you in on one tip that I learned from that shoot.

DO NOT LET THE WRITER BE ON SET! It will slow the whole process doen like you wouldn't believe.

I would direct it the way you see, and ask questions before hand about things you are unclear on.

krestofre
04-13-2005, 07:55 AM
Personally I think that's part of movie making magic. The colaboration that existes when one person writes a script and another person directs the script is just about unparalleled in any other type of art. This story then has twice of the life experience invested in it. Then the editor comes in and triples the life experience, the DP quadruples it and so on and so on. I think that's one reason that films touch so many people on so many different levels. It's not just one person with one vision. I've never subscribed to the Hitchcock school of "I've seen the film in my mind and your job is to make it happen." I couldn't make films without the colaboration of those that work with me.

So with that in mind, talk to the writer, be sure that you understand the story that he was telling, then don't be afraid to put your spin on it.

As far as practical advice, the hardest part for me to directing someone elses script is actually storyboarding. When I write my own scripts I do it very visually so I could almost go from page to film without anything inbetween. With someone elses script I storyboard a LOT more. Sometimes I'll even do a rewrite of the script just for myself so that I can get my mind around the look of the film.

Hope that helps.

Chris

Jim Brennan
04-13-2005, 08:51 AM
All of this helps.

Tlalconetl: I will direct it the way I see it, but I expect to come to that vision through collaboration. It was a difficult thing to turn a script I had written over to a director to shoot. It was made even worse by the fact that neither of us communicated very well to the other about our individual vision. The result was a mess. A director is supposed to interpret the work and bring his vision to it, that's why you ask them to do it I just want to make sure that I respect the writer and his efforts.

TC: He has to be on the set, as he is in the film. He is a very mature (both in years and attitude) guy that I can work with. We have a very honest relationship, and have nearly gotten past taking things personally. (I don't know that anyone ever gets completely past that) THat being said, I don't want a lot of conflicts on the set. That's why I want to work as much as possible out beforehand. You are right though: being a writer on a set isn't easy. I treated my time as an exercise in letting go. I reminded myself that, although I wrote the script, I chose someone else to direct it because of what I thought they would bring to the film. I had to let them pursue that, or else why did I pick them? (I know I already said that, but it's important)

krestofre: All good points. The thing that I most love about filmmaking is the potential synergy. Collaboration is key.

The script is great BTW. The guy is a very talented writer. David Lean had optioned one of his scripts not long before he died.

Thanks

J.R. Hudson
04-13-2005, 10:58 AM
My take is that you are being asked to Direct this film.

You.

You.

You.

I would seriously nail down this fact prior to going into production. The last thing you need is some writer fighting your vision on-set. Nail this down and get it confirmed " DO you trust me to take on your script and Direct it as I see it? Yes or No?"

It will not be worth the bullshit on-set if there's going to be conflict.

jpbankesmercer
04-13-2005, 04:00 PM
I did it and it turned out horrible. Don't ask me to post it, romantic drama..shoosh
Writers on set...Oh boy! On location...untested actors...pissing it down...big crew...at a Victorian event.
Not only did everything go badly but I also had the writers suggesting things(hehe), not wanting me to change painful lines no-one could have delivered, giving me extra painful lines.
When it started to go very badly. I broke for 15mins. Got away from everyone and thought like crazy, solved what I could and got back in-there.
Best advice I have ever got is...Don't start with a bad script,
A director offers his interpretation of someone else's work, (there are exceptions).
Writers have vivid imaginations.
You as the director know what you can realize on-set.
My advice is if you can keep them away from the set...probably for the best unless there is heavy subtext and you need them on hand but that's just me.
Good luck Jim.
Ill stick to my own stuff for nowI know the writer well.
You've got a good script, he sounds sensible. I hope you can work it out together.
J.P.

Loki
04-13-2005, 06:43 PM
The first short film I directed was from a script that was not my own.

I have actually never directed my own scripts before.. well not yet anyways..

I just filmed it the way I thought it should be be presented... then again the writer was also a co-director.. but in the end pretty much 95% of the film is my take/view on the material..

if the person that has written this script is in fact a true writer, then they should be able to step back and let you make the film your way. If that is not the case then I'd think they should be directing it instead.

for me, I would have hard time letting someone else direct a script I wrote, but thats because I consider myself a filmmaker first and writer second.

my two cents.

Jim Brennan
04-13-2005, 09:24 PM
All this is good advice. I also forgot to mention that I know most of the actors involved. I have cast them myself in other projects, and would do so again. That's another plus.

I am developing my own vision for the film, and I realize that as a director, that's part of my responsibility. Otherwise I'm a camera operator. WHat I really need to do is to keep the lines of communication open and make sure that I understand his vision of the script, and then relate mine effectively. I'm not big on creative compromise, but I strongly believe that when you have different ideas about something that don't really work together, you have an opportunity to re-examine your individual visions and get to the root of your creative process. WHat that does is enable you to come up with something better together that neither of you thought of separately. That's the difference between compromise and collaboration.

jpbankesmercer
04-14-2005, 05:34 AM
All this is good advice. I also forgot to mention that I know most of the actors involved. I have cast them myself in other projects, and would do so again. That's another plus.

I am developing my own vision for the film, and I realize that as a director, that's part of my responsibility. Otherwise I'm a camera operator. WHat I really need to do is to keep the lines of communication open and make sure that I understand his vision of the script, and then relate mine effectively. I'm not big on creative compromise, but I strongly believe that when you have different ideas about something that don't really work together, you have an opportunity to re-examine your individual visions and get to the root of your creative process. WHat that does is enable you to come up with something better together that neither of you thought of separately. That's the difference between compromise and collaboration.

Well said, make sure you don't consume yourself with what he/she wants though.
Otherwise you will have everyone talking in your ear on the day. Make clear lines. Have the writer come to rehearsals, work out everything together and finalize as much as possible, (no surprises for them on the day). A good writer will step back on the day.
J.P.

evinsky
04-24-2005, 03:26 AM
If you have a good repore with the writer it's fine. Just make him aware of the master servant relationship. He can make sugestions, just like the other actors, but if he has doubts or reservations he should hold them till your alone. Preferably till after the days shooting. DO NOT under any circumstances allow him to change diolog or story points on set! But don't be afraid to do so yourself if it is truly necessary to get the story right. Lastly try to get as much rehersal time as possible with the writter there so you can work this shit out before you roll.
My 2.

Jim Brennan
04-26-2005, 08:35 PM
Well there I go misunderstanding again. Apparently he was asking me to DP, not direct. Nothing like good communication from the get-go.

evinsky
04-26-2005, 10:35 PM
Are you going to do it?

Jim Brennan
04-27-2005, 07:12 AM
Yep. In fact I'm looking forward to it. Great people, great script, and less worries for me :)