View Full Version : The Modern Director's Role

11-09-2005, 08:50 PM
Cool deal. We have a new mod and he seems passionate about the art. :thumbsup:

First of all, I don't think it's a very good idea to have all of the directing topics on his intro thread, as it would sort of convolute the message thread itself, and the specificities of each individual's question about directing will likely be lost in the masses. However, I am interested in some of the topics JP has brought up, which prompted me to start this new thread.

So let's just get the ball rolling and begin the discussion . After all, the more opinions we get on a certain topic, the better off we all are in understanding the craft, right?

Here's what I'd like to discuss:

"F. The Modern Directors Role (What is expected of the Director, wearing different hats, being the best you can.)"

Or more specifically, how is the modern director's role any different from the traditional sense of what a director should or should not be?

11-10-2005, 04:18 PM
OK, I'll bite.

WTH is a "modern director"......???

11-10-2005, 04:24 PM
I am a Director but I always end up producing myself, sometimes acting in my own work, just to get them made. Marketing products, sourcing new projects, generating contacts, editing, call sheets, costumes, make-up, lighting and making tea. It’s a collaborative process making films, put the right people into place and you can get back to Directing. I personally think Directors should have knowledge in all areas, then finally be in-control of the creative content/ themes/ styles, knowing what you want and be able to communicate it to the right person, who then only enhances your original vision. I like to call it: - 'Stealing everyone’s best ideas'
So I guess being a bit of a Svengali as well as an auteur.

11-14-2005, 05:53 PM
I believe directing should be about telling the story. The director should be focused on the actors becoming the actors, and working with the department heads so that every facet of what is captured by the lens adds to the experience of the story.

However I've seen two horrible things happening. First, on the big Hollywood films you have this whole issue of runaway productions to deal with, and studios are really starting to crack down on directors about keeping the film on time and on budget. Some director's need to be kept in check, but I've noticed directors across the board being pinged for this, regardless of their track record.

The second thing I've noticed, and will probably apply more to the filmmakers on this board, is the multi-role problem. MiniDV has made every film geek think they can be a filmmaker. Now anyone who has $4000 to buy a camera is a director. Most of these people don't understand anything about film theory, so they end stealing shots from Tarantino, Lynch, Lucas, Speilberg, or whomever their DVD mentor is. Most of them also think they are producers, directors of photography, writers, production designers, editors, sound mixers, and so on. This, more than anything, hurts these filmmakers. The element a lot of the collaboration that goes into a making a film, so their projects end up looking like cheap rip offs of whatever their favorite film is.

Maybe this is just my pet peeve.


11-14-2005, 09:27 PM
I have seen a lot of that too, Rob, but I don't think it's restricted to DV dorks such as myself. A friend of mine had his son go through the New York Acadamy of Film at Universal Studios a couple of months ago. Some 2 week crash course thing. I got a copy of the DVD of their final projects. Every one of them - EVERY ONE except for this guy's kid did a rip off of Kill Bill.

And they shot on 16mm. Not DV. I am guessing it's the nature of the beast. But I also think that first works are typically derivative. I think it takes a person a while to find their own voice. After doing my re-shoot this weekend my directing was much more focused and I was able to elicit MUCH better performances out of my actors.

Practice makes...well, you know the drill.

Luis Caffesse
11-14-2005, 09:37 PM
But I also think that first works are typically derivative.

I think that's definitely true.
Looking back on the first few short films I made I can't believe some of the crap I created. Looking at it now I can't even remember a time when I could have possibly imagined that it was good..or engaging. But it was definitely derivative.

It does take time... and some confidence.
I agree with Rob that the 'multirole' issue is a big problem.
But, I still believe that those with something to say will eventually be heard.
And those who are not heard...well... maybe they didn't have that much to say to begin with.

11-15-2005, 08:32 AM
My advice would be to surround yourself with the best people you can and let them do their jobs. Then the Modern Director just like the so called traditional Director can concentrate on his or her job, Directing. Directing the actors and ultimatley Directing the viewer to look at what you want them to, by the way you frame your shots. Sure understand what each of your departments do but let them do it.

I agree owning a camera does not make you a Director.

11-17-2005, 12:53 PM
Pipe, so true...
The modern Director should let go and trust others, we all just want to direct, I think that while your building your reel you have to be multi-talented as what's on offer is soooo strong.

Matthew B. Moore
01-07-2006, 01:09 PM
1. Make the story come alive.
2. Know/trust your crew and be loved and respected by them (they WILL follow you to hell IF they know you can get them back.
3. Know all of the deparments and what they have to do. Respect the amount of work it takes to give you what you want.
4. Know how to solve a problem at a moments notice.
5. Never quit...ever.
6. Show your will, not your ass.
7. Never act like you are better than you crew.
8. Buy drinks

If the director can fit this, old or new school, I'm down for working on their film.

When I direct, I think of all of the people doing my will and I am greatful, so I give as much back to them as I can.

I honestly think the act of directing is more like being a dad.

Noel Evans
01-10-2006, 03:42 AM
The modern Director should let go and trust others,

I agree 100% during production.... how about pre production?

Resolute Proactor
01-24-2006, 04:57 PM
From what I can tell from many years of study and hands on experience (both low and big budget, film and dv), the director's fundamental role hasn't changed much over the last century. The director is the audience's advocate on the motion picture production.

The director carries in their head at all times a vision of how the final product is intended to come across to the audience. Or, stated in more detail, they carry in their head a vision of how all the many detached pieces of the production process are intended to work in concert at some point in the detached future to produce for the audience the illusion of a spontaneously unfolding dreamscape that makes enough cohesivce sense to provide a moving and satisfying cinematic experience.

To ensure that the movie makes cohesive sense in every way, it falls on the director by default to express the movie experience they imagine, not in direct description as a writer does, but as a series of detached interactions with many different (sometimes very different) collaborating members of a manufacturing industry-like movie production.

And so the authority that DPs, Editors, and others on a lot of indie projects assume is really "borrowed" from what history has taught us is the only reliable custodian of the audience's cinematic experience - the director.

Watch the commentaries on American Beauty and A.I. The relationship between the director and the other members of the production is this: the other members of the production look at/listen to the director's intentions, offer up ideas of how they can use their particular craft to help those intentions become movie reality and then the director picks and chooses which ideas to use and which ones to set aside.

And for the entire process to work, the other member of the production must manage their emotions in a way that they maintain a higher loyalty to implementing the director's creative decisions than to seeing their own creative ideas serviced.

This seems incredibly obvious to me and should be common knowledge to anyone who has experience working on budgeted productions, and yet I see it get totally ignored a lot of times. Or maybe I have it wrong and because of necessity this isn't always feasible?

01-24-2006, 08:51 PM
Hey RP-
Nice first post, welcome aboard.

01-25-2006, 06:41 AM
I think everyone here has very valid points. I wish this thread had been around a few years ago when I started!

As the the director I live by specific rules (all learned the hard way):

1) Be open to change during pre-production. This is when the ideas really flow.

2) MAKE SURE THAT YOU HAVE ENOUGH PRE-PRODUCTION TIME! People always overlook this, so instead of shooting their vision, they're just managing the chaos on set. The set is where you should be concentrating on performances, not technical issues or making up shot lists on the fly.

3)Storyboard everything. That way the crew can set up the next shot without waiting for your direction.

4) During production-- the director is the MAN. Never be mean, but make it clear that you're not making this up as you go along.

5) Indeed-- surround yourself with a crew that you'd trust with your life. Then you don't have to micromanage them. Filmmaking IS your life, right?

6) Establish your post-production workflow before the shoot. I've seen people get mired down in capturing footage, etc.

7) Be open to change during post-production. After you've shot your footage, sometimes you've got to find a way to salvage it!

Everyone works differently. If there was a 'right' way, everyone could do it!

David Kuznicki
Production Manager, WGTE-TV30

Resolute Proactor
01-25-2006, 06:46 AM
Thanks CJ,

Actually I just pulled some quotes from material that I now give to all new production team members and make them sign. I don't like being that heavy handed but experience has taught me that because of the relatively casual nature of indie productions, something has to be done to clarify relationships, authority, and responsibilities. To me it's the biggest logistical challenge. If anyone knows of a more comfy way to do it, I'd love to hear ideas.

Of course one additional challenge I have is that I'm not comfortable with donning an especially forceful personality in social situations. And when I get singly focused on making the shoot come off successfully there seems to be a lot of room for people to start making decisions that are not covered under their job description.

For me it's more effective to just get it all on the table from the outset so that inappropriate behavior never has ground to take root. The authoritative approach turns some people off but others can see the need for it. And I've learned that in this business there are always going to be talented, well-meaning people who simply have opposing ways of working and before you start working together is a good time to discover the conflict.

How do others handle the whole authority/responsibilities balance?

Resolute Proactor
01-25-2006, 06:51 AM
Agreed, David. A lack of thoroughness in preproduction can cause a lot of the problems that indie movie makers face.