What is it you’re directing? You would be surprised to know that most directors have a really hard time answering this question. How can you direct if you don’t know what you’re directing? The answer to this counter-intuitive little question is… drum roll please… the “audience’s attention”. The journey the audience takes through the story, in the end, must be known in the beginning if you are to get the most out of this film making process. The first question you need to ask yourself going into your directorial preparation is, “How do I want my audience to feel about this movie, this scene, and then this moment?” Only through much analysis and introspection do the subtleties of the script begin to show themselves and reveal its secrets, but once they do the second question is, “What tools do I have available to me in this production to do that?” Now you can begin to direct.
Your job is to know how you want the audience to feel at any given moment and to direct your production to achieve that aim with the writer’s story, the actors’ actions, the DP’s camera & lights and every other facet of film making you have available to you. In doing that it becomes possible to realize your vision, and on the very rare occasion, realize the potential of the script by having maximized the resources and personnel you had available to you within the time and space budgeted. This is the goal and this blog will make you aware of the tools you need to develop, as well as the ones you have available to you, to direct effectively.
The result of directing effectively is entertaining your audience as fully as possible. When we are able to achieve this monumental task with cast and crew, the entire film making experience can be extremely fulfilling. The resulting film will pale in comparison to the extraordinary journey taken and the deep relationships that can develop with in this process, no matter how good your film is, if you learn how to inspire and motivate a cast and crew to realize your vision.
Getting the best they have to offer on any given day is key to your success. Their potential is needed to realize your potential, so be nice! Yes you will be challenged but that’s the fun part of the job, taking on the never-ending changes and adapting, to attain desirable results that will move your story ahead make you a director. “Getting your day” (All shots scheduled) is a success in itself. A good attitude is so important to leading a production to a sound result and “getting its day”. Respect for all involved is key. Your creative life is in their hands even though you are at the top of the creative food chain; they are the ones executing the myriad of tasks that are needed to get through a project. Also the energy of the set shows up in the frame of your camera and eventually the theater so be cognizant of not only your good attitude but also others.
If you see and feel a cast or crewmember slipping into a negative attitude address it as quickly as possible, positively. You are not there to take on someone else’s garbage and mindlessly get drawn into petty personality conflicts, you are there to direct the attention of your production to attain a result that will move, inspire, scare and thrill an audience and eventually SELL, with the given script as your outline. DON’T FORGET THAT. Negativity spreads through a taxed cast and crew like a California wild fire egged on by drought and the Santa Ana’s (for those of you that don’t know what the Santa Ann’s are, it’s a 30 to 70 mile an hour, hot desert wind that blows from east to west through southern California, and its a serious problem when fire is involved) and so is a disgruntled employee in a creative process trying to realize itself. Take action and fix it, or dare I say, replace it.
They say casting is 95% of directing. Who “they” are I don’t know, probably the directors who don’t know how to speak to an actor. They depend only on the talent to tell their story, which is not a bad thing to do if you don’t know how to direct.
Some of the best directing advice I have ever heard was to “get out of the way” allow the actor to exercise his part. – By the way most film and television directors direct you, would think most directors have heard this advice and have used it as an excuse not to contribute, concealing there own ineptitude.
Warning – The multitude of creative ideas racing through a good director at any given moment can get in the way of the actor and “put him in his head”, which can be a point of no return for the actor, director and the production.
Sometimes it is better not to give any direction at all unless you know the basic principles of directing. The principles will allow you to shape the scene in the way which you would like your story to unfold, allowing you to give productive guidance at any moment required. This allows the talent to respect your input which allows them the freedom to do their best work. You see, an actor needs us if they are to truly excel in their parts. An actor cannot see himself if he is truly acting at his best. They need us to give them feedback for the simple reason of orientation, hence the word “direct”.
Point of action for a director – When the actors are really working, action is occurring, this is the time to shape our vision in a way which will not impend on the action (or energy occurring).
By Thomas Ardavany
Thomas Ardavany is an acting teacher and life coach for aspiring artistic and professional talent. He is an exceptional individual who has touched the lives of countless people through the Ardavany Approach, a unique method for enhancing perception and creative expression that helps individuals overcome their fears and connect to their power. It blends cold reading, scene study, interactive exercises, on-camera experience, and other tools to help t the actor. He is a respected practitioner with a unique energy and passion for helping performers and people from all walks of life succeed. Through self-awareness, a warm spirit, and “no-holds-barred” honesty, he seeks to influence the lives of all his students. Clients include Josh Holloway from Lost, Matt Gerald from Avatar, Rudy Reyes from “Apocalypse Man”. [email protected]