View Full Version : *Directing and DP'ing @ The Same Time

02-22-2006, 09:44 AM
I was wondering, for those of you who have directed and DP'ed your own or someone else's project.

1) What was your experience like from a Director's point of view and from a DP's point of view?

2) What do you think about doing these to jobs together? Advantages and disadvantages.

Cheers and let the knowledge flow, :thumbup:

02-22-2006, 10:51 AM
My advice.

Don't do both, one or the other will suffer. I have done both at once and it is really really hard to concentrate on one of them, which takes away from the other.

It can be done, and for some projects it can work just fine, but for anything that requires extensive lighting setups as well as complex camera/actor blocking.. then I would suggest picking one or the other.

my two cents.

being a DP is an artform as is directing, work with another artist to help you get your vision on screen.

02-22-2006, 11:01 AM
I've also done both at once, only on smaller projects, and I also don't recommend it. You find yourself spending too much time focusing on the frame and not enough on the performances, or vice versa.

Get yourself a DP that you trust and communicate with really well, and you can still have every bit as much say in how it will look. Or, hire me to direct it. :)

02-22-2006, 11:47 AM
Uh! interesting points.

I have directed and DP'ed (once) at the same time too... the one thing that really stood up was in post when I realized that I have neglected total control as director and let some minor visuals details go by.

As a director, I tend to work really close with the actors and gaffers, and tell the DP what I want... thats something I missed doing and was neglected.

As a DP, oh my, I do have an eye for details. I tend to focusing mostly on the picture composition and how is lit, because I was also directing, the actors did a few things I could have stopped that the script supervisor did not catch and re-shot if I was paying closer attention.

I think I would do it again if and only if, I have more experienced individual covering my back.

R Gale
02-22-2006, 10:30 PM
Steven Soderbergh has D.P.'ed every film he's directed since "Traffic,"
under the pseudonym "Peter Andrews." Clearly, it works for him.

I think you have to be a very experienced D.P. and Director to pull it off well,
and you would need a top-notch crew.

Oh, and Robert Rodriguez does it too.

Only way you'll ever know is to try it, but if you're having any doubts...
better find a good D.P. :)

Ralph Oshiro
02-22-2006, 10:40 PM
I like directing and shooting. I can work faster. I know exactly what I want. I know when I've "got it" and when I don't. Many, if not the majority, of 35mm musicvideos are shot by "director/camermen."

02-23-2006, 04:49 AM
I do it all the time when its my own project. I know How I wanted it. I have control over image and it makes one job disappear becuase i know what i want all i have to do is talk to actors and roll camera.

02-23-2006, 10:49 AM
Good point, NBC. For music videos and non-narrative work, I think it's a lot more acceptable. Those are places where performances matter substantially less.

As for the other examples, Soderbergh is what you might call a genius, and generally works with some of the finest actors in the land. So he's got a few advantages.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, could really stand to focus on his directing a little bit more, and his shooting, visual effects, production design, and million other jobs a little bit less.

02-23-2006, 01:12 PM
Ok! there is a lot of confidence within yourself thats great. So here is one more time for those of you who have done it.

*What was your experience like?
*What did you learn from it?
*What would you do different and why?

02-24-2006, 06:16 AM
lol, its funny how I found this thread. I'm just about to start a short film where I'm the D.O.P AND the Director. I guess I'll found out soon whether that was a bad idea or not. I always told myself that Soderbergh pulled it off, so I guess I'm gonna try it out too. I'm just so protective of my DVX100A! I have trouble letting go of it.... I need help! lolol

02-24-2006, 06:42 AM
If you are planning on pulling the Director/DP, I have found it's good to have a second in command, an extra set of eyes to help catch anything you might miss. I worked with a friend on 2 feature length films and on the second one, he decided to go with an AD, and things worked out very well. Not everyone can pull it off, and I suggest maybe trying your hand at it on a practice short, something you can get done in a week or two.

02-24-2006, 07:22 AM
If you are planning on pulling the Director/DP, I have found it's good to have a second in command, an extra set of eyes to help catch anything you might miss. I worked with a friend on 2 feature length films and on the second one, he decided to go with an AD, and things worked out very well. Not everyone can pull it off, and I suggest maybe trying your hand at it on a practice short, something you can get done in a week or two.

That's the way I have done my shorts--a competent friend who is "second in command" or a really powerful gofer. You don't have to pay him, but you get a second set of eyes and another mouth. You have to be able to work well with him and he has to understand you.

In some projects, if you can get actors on board who are flexible and have free time, it allows you to take your time more in order to do both. (That is pretty hard to come by, though. Talent and flexibility are mutually exclusive.) This is harder as the project gets bigger, however.

Having said all that, though, one or both usually suffers. You just have to minimize the damage.

02-24-2006, 08:45 AM
That's the way I have done my shorts--a competent friend who is "second in command" or a really powerful gofer. You don't have to pay him, but you get a second set of eyes and another mouth. You have to be able to work well with him and he has to understand you.

This is very, very true. While I have no problems wearing two hats, you ALWAYS need someone that has better judgement than you do to bounce ideas off of.

One of my guys, Phil, is someone who I trust absolutely. If I'm moving in the wrong direction, he will no hesitate to tell me so. He is a master of all trades (seriously!), and is not trying to overthrow my authority. I call him my 'insurance policy,' as he's saved me from myself a hundred times.

And, no matter how small of a shoot we're on, I always make sure he gets paid... even if I have to lie to everyone else and say 'no one is getting paid.' It ensures that he'll follow me to the next shoot. It may not be the best practice in the world (and I'll be the first to admit it), but I trade favors with the other actors/crew on my short films. It gives me the ability to work on these micro-budget shorts continually.

If it's a gig where I'm getting paid, however, I make sure EVERYONE gets paid, even if it comes out of my own pocket. I've learned one thing-- if you can pay your crew at the start of the day in cash, then DO IT. They'll work harder and better... and their morale will stay high.

Off my soapbox now...

David Kuznicki
Production Manager, WGTE-TV30

02-24-2006, 06:44 PM
Here's my experience with being a Director and a DP at the same time:

Good actors + Dedicated and knowledgeable crew = No headache
Bad actors + Dedicated crew = small headache
Good actors + Bad crew = small headache

Bad actors + Bad crew = lots of headache and very exhausting (you tend to be an acting coach to your actors and an instructor to your crew on how things are done).

joe 1008
02-26-2006, 08:05 PM
I think if yo are going to do both jobs you should use the time you can split them very well. In a rehearsal you donīt have to think about camera work, and while developing the set and the storyboard yo are freed from the actors. When it comes to the moment of truth, the shooting, a lot of work should already have been done.

02-27-2006, 04:23 PM
If I can do it, I prefer to direct and shoot the material myself, mainly because I know how I'm going to cut the footage when I get back to the edit room.

The tricky part depends on how intensive your lighting design needs to be and how many hands you can get to help you set lights, while you're talking with your actors.

Time is the enemy.

02-27-2006, 05:17 PM
I've found it's not very efficient. Your DP doesn't need a great deal of freedom, but you need someone who is able to work independently of you to take care of the shot to shot trivia.

You can only be one place doing one thing at a time. If you're working on getting the lights exactly where they need to be, and the camera properly exposed and ready to roll, you aren't talking to your actors, you aren't watching the performance and you're not paying enough attention to your camera. Something will very often get missed. A second set of eyes, is a good insurance policy, but in that case, I would rather have a DP who knows his stuff and understands what I want, so that it gets executed, without micromanagement.

I think a perfect example of a director who micromanages, and whose work suffers as a result is Rodriguez. Everything comes out just barely passable, but nothing gets done well.

02-27-2006, 05:20 PM
For me camera and lighting is integral to directing, I can't direct from beside the camera. I typcally rough in the lighting before the actors come on set, then hopefully only needs tweeking after rehearsal. But it is work as I tend not to delegate enough and do too much myself. When I DP for other directors it seems a lot easier as I don't have so much on my shoulders.

02-27-2006, 07:22 PM
i did both on my first short film... i didn't have a problem with it. i think that's because there were like 4 of us and we shot the short in like 2 hrs. it was rushed and didn't come out well because we rushed. if i had spent more time it would have come out better

02-27-2006, 08:30 PM
Very interesting thread.

I direct and DP, and can't imagine it any other way. If I'm ONLY directing I tend to watch the monitor anyway, so I may as well control the camera. I've never gotten much out of watching actors on set. That isn't what the audience will see, and it isn't what I'll end up with when I do the edit. If I don't see it in the monitor it never existed. The camera becomes an extension of my directing "self," so it's pretty important that I be able to operate on the fly, often based on the emotion coming from the scene.

The best advice here is to get a competent AD, as wells as grips who know their stuff. You need people who can do what you tell them the first time and who won't wander off and avoid work. When you are doing two extremely important jobs there isn't room to pick up anyone else's slack.

When doing both of these jobs I find it best to allow actors a substantial range of freedom in their choices. I can't stand it when people micromanage line readings that really have no effect in the overall outcome of the scene, much less the movie. I've watched directors re-do take after take to get a sigh "just right" or force a performance a tiny degree one way or the other. If you are this controlling over the acting, then I doubt you'll have much time to DP as well. Be willing to let your actors find the character and evolve the roles themselves.

On the flipside, you MUST know your equipment well and be prepared to get your lighting set the FIRST time. There isn't a ton of time for tweaking etc. Know what you want, and know how to get it. Otherwise you'll waste time... which is something you will NEVER have as a director/DP.

I pretty much always skip meal breaks as well. :)

Billy Pilgrim
03-01-2006, 09:07 PM
I guess directing and photographing depends on you and your style. I shoot everything Herzog style: mostly hand-held, using available lighting, quick and dirty. A lot of other filmmakers seem to be really fixated with lighting and color correction and the look that they don't seem to think of the performances, or the script. Then again, I go for that rough around the edges, guerilla look. I'm not really concearned with the "polished" look. Or maybe I'm just a pretentious artist. I just don't think general audiences will be saying "Well they should have shot this with a higher F-Stop and moved the key light closer, or used more color balance." It just depends on your style.

03-01-2006, 09:46 PM
In my experience, there are two kinds of directors: 1.) Technical based (lighting, visuals, camera movement, etc.) and 2.) Performance based (acting is king). It's very rare to find someone able to pull off both and have the film be the better for it.
I'm a writer first, actor second, and thirdly a technical cat. For me, I need to have that connection with my actors, have them trust me to guide them in their performance (hard to establish that when I'm behind the camera). Many actors are terrified of the camera...it's unnatural and a constant reminder that this is an illusion. Some are better at tuning it out than others, but it (and lights, cables, etc) are always gonna be there to distract. I need my actors to have the sensation that there is at least one person/aspect in the process that is 'live/real' to keep them organic. I dunno, maybe this is why Eastwood and other 'actor's directors' get such good performances out of their actors with fewer takes.
That being said, I'm a perfectionist who hates delegating for fear that someone will screw up MY movie (geez...who brought the jerk?). That's why I have someone else just watching the monitor for technical stuff (boom pole in frame, lighting making you look fat, etc.) I HATE down time on the set, but the beauty of shooting digital is that you can rewind that puppy on the spot and see for your self how everything came together, watching technical aspects if you concentrated on performance and vice versa.
I'ma agree with those that said to talk to and trust your DP ahead of time and storyboard with camera movements etc ahead of time.


03-03-2006, 12:02 PM
Good answers,

Its very obvious that deciding wether or not to Direct and DP at the same time varies based on:

01) the size of the production (budget, time, number of employees/volunteers)
02) the experience level of your cast
03) the experience level of your crew
04) the number of crew working on set and production office
05) personal relationship with cast
06) personal relationship with crew
07) complexity of the project
08) time spent on pre-production
09) self confidence that you can achieve it
10) and a whole lot of other things that will make this list endless

I would like to rephrase one of the first questions: Can some who have done both, illustrate with their own experience about a specific project, what he/she loved about it and what could he/she have done better or will do different next time?

03-03-2006, 12:34 PM
...get a competent AD, as wells as grips...
Sorry, I don't grip. :)