If you are an inspiring, beginning or a full fledged writer/director you’ll appreciate this article.
To the BEGINNER WRITER/DIRECTOR – You’re lucky, you haven’t put enough thought or action into any of this to get stuck in any ideas or shoulds or supposed to’s. It means all you have is “heart” to guide you through the writing and directing experience, and if your heart is pure throughout this process you’ve put yourself in the front of the line to receive what we call “beginners luck!” “Ignorance is bliss” if this is the case. Although, a talent may emerge and be revealed, a professional writer/director is still light years away.
Beginning writing: Great writing can be inspired from anywhere! Just begin. It’s what happens after that that matters. A beginner human is a lot different then being a beginning writer. So depending on what level of the evolutionary scale you are on, will determine the obstacles you’ll face on your writing journey. Example: A truly free person will face no problems in this writing process, but if you’re like the rest of us (who get attached to our big ideas, beat ourselves up, procrastinate, have to wait for the writing Gods to swoop down and inspire us to create a master piece right out of the gate) or think you know how to write simply because you have an over active imagination, or you got an “A” on a paper you wrote in 8th grade (and I kid you not, this 40 year old person told me that once – from that paper they were convinced they were ready to get paid as a screenwriter!)
But the worst obstacle a person can suffer from, if they want enjoy the process of filmmaking, is to suffer from an extraordinary opinion of themselves. This is the greatest obstruction to the creative process, period. If you suffer from it, its hard to get over yourself, but if you want anything bad enough you’ll figure it out only after many years of falling prey to what you think you know relative to what you can actually do. Writing is the art of discovery and realization with pen in hand, recording the moments as they reveal themselves through you for the first time, expressed through the characters, form and structure you’re writing in. It’s beautiful, and fun, IF YOU CAN STAY OUT OF THE WAY AND NOT JUDGE WHAT HAPPENS AND ACCEPT THE RESULTS. They are never what you expected. Enjoy the surprise! Good luck!!
Beginning directing – At least we have the script as our outline as to what’s supposed to transpire on location. So now the fun begins! Interpreting those action and words and breathing life into them on location, with your trusty cast and crew. No problem right? Wrong! I hope I’m wrong. But I know I’m right, because the job from this point forward, no matter what level you’re on, is about accepting all challenges and surviving the day by solving all problems creatively, with a great attitude, inspiring all those who lay eyes on you, witnessing your quick, succinct decision making. Not too tall an order, right? Wrong!
It’s a tall order. If you’re a natural born leader it will help, if not all is not lost. Why? Because it’s your first try at this and everybody knows it, so don’t act like you’re anything other then open to seeing what this entails. Just do your best and stay calm. You’re going to have to trust the people around you to do their jobs. Always concern yourself with what’s happening in the frame, allow the DP to set the shot, watch closely, ask questions politely, listen intently and watch calmly. Allow your direction to come out of a perceived need, not a fear-based want or an old idea. You are the catalyst for all the action on the set, and in the case of a first time director, others will have to step up. Don’t take offense. Be supportive and appreciative. In order to direct, you must observe what is and what is happening all around you, and the only way to do that is to stay focused and open, especially when the camera rolls. Directing also is beautiful and fun and IF YOU CAN STAY OUT OF THE WAY OF YOURSELF AND THE PRODUCTION, AND NOT JUDGE WHAT HAPPENS, DOING WHAT YOU CAN AND ACCEPT THE RESULTS, you’ll learn to love directing. Stay open to the result of what was shot. It’s no longer about the written script. It’s about what you shot and mining all the gold that’s there in post production. And letting that be the audience’s entertainment. The results are never what you expect. Enjoy the surprises! Good luck!!
INTERMEDIATE WRITER/DIRECTOR – Okay, so you’ve written a few things and maybe completed a project or two. You’re feeling confident and looking forward to discovering your next writing/directing project. You’ve gained an appreciation for continuity and blocking because you sat in on the editing sessions or did the editing yourself, which I highly recommend. At least a first pass, a director’s cut if you will, so you can see how your shots matched up, the angles you chose, lights, actors and DP’s performance etc. This editing experience is where volumes of effective script writing and effective directing can be learned. You’ve learned the importance of lighting, good sound and the power of performance, and the debilitating effects of a weak one. You’ve learned what it is “to get your day,” the timing of setting up shots and getting the shot, the demands of a cast and crew, what an “on the spot” rewrite is, finding just the essential moments to shoot when time is at a premium (just to name a few of the myriad of lessons learned in this process), not even to mention what you will learn about your own character, like how tough, clutch and creative you can be in all the writing/directing aspects of filmmaking.
The distinct advantage to being a writer/director is that you are developing your director’s vision as you write. This can be a huge advantage to the production if the writer is an effective director. What’s needed and what can be left aside during production can be instantly known without compromising the central theme of the piece. This is essential.
ADVANCED WRITING AND DIRECTING – The true mastery in this case is within the writer/director himself, because out of the process an artist has emerged. An artist in this case is being defined as “a person who brings as much of himself through the writing and the directing as possible.” What does that mean? It means the writer/director has an intimate understanding of every moment in the writing based on the truth experienced in his current lifetime. The insights into the characters created and the actions taken are insights into the artist, hidden in the guise of a story. This is critically important when it comes to realizing the subtleties of a script on location. With this comes an intimate understanding of what needs to be realized in the scene being shot, and what comes with that is the ability to communicate what needs to done, to cast and crew, in order to create and capture that moment in the script.
At this point of a writer/director’s evolution he is totally cognizant of his audience, especially in the final stages of writing, and from that moment forward, through to the editing. He knows how he wants his audience to feel, setting up the emotional roller coaster every great film has. He understands the blending of action, performance, dialogue, lights, sound, and camera and is a master at creating rhythm, composition and continuity in each frame. He has become a master at “creating and shaping time and space”. A person that can do this is a “writer/director” in the truest meaning of the words.
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] / Twitter @ARDAVANY / FB https://www.facebook.com/Theardavanyapproach / 310 382 0907