Monday, September 15, 2014

Directing for Dummies

Welcome to the newest edition of "[insert random film crew position] for Dummies!" I'm you're host, Mike, and today we shall be delving into the world of the director. *Oooo ahhh* Now, I know what you're all thinking: "Duh! A director is the guy/girl that directs people!" You know what? You'd be correct in saying that. Go figure!

I'm sure you all know the basics of a director's job. I'm here today, though, to try to teach you a little something that you may not have already known. Let's start from the beginning. Now, after a director is hired by producers for a project, the director must then work side-by-side with the producers to cast actors for the film. This can be an extremely long and tedious process, but it's one that simply must be done. Clearly. Without quality actors, you can't possibly dream to have a quality film. Well, I guess you could, but that's all it would be: a dream.

Next up on the list of things to do, the director has to organize and select shooting locations. Of course, the director has location scouts working for him to truly find the best locations for shooting, but he has creative control and authority as to which locations will appear in the film. At the same time, the director interprets--and sometimes even writes or selects--the script for the film. The director rarely ever writes the script himself, but if he's not hired by a production house to direct the film, the director will often go out and find a script he'd like to work with. The location selections are hugely dependent on the script and the way the director interprets it, so the two steps are pretty much synonymous.

The director's next job is the last step before filming can begin. He must approve the sets, costumes, choreography (not present in most films), and music. These aspects of film are usually completely invisible to the untrained eye, or ear, because the only time most people will find them noticeable is when they are done incorrectly. If a film is set on a 1950s Japanese farm, and the actors are wearing tuxedos and sneakers with Kanye vaguely playing in the background, something went wrong...very, very wrong. It's the director's job to make sure mistakes like this never happen.

What else does the director do? Well I'm glad you asked! The rest of the director's work is pretty straight forward and most of you already know all of these things. But guess what! I'm going to tell you about it anyway! The director has a whole lot to do during production. The most obvious task is directing the actors. Whether it's explaining to actors how he wants them to portray their character in a given moment or if it's simply helping actors get into character, the director is the guy doing it. While doing this, the director also keeps the crew on track and makes sure everyone's doing what they need to be doing. Film shoots are generally tightly scheduled, so there's no time for excessive screw-ups and messing around. While doing this, the director also works with the cinematographers on shot composition and makes sure he likes what's in the frame.

Production is quite a daunting time for directors. They're basically the ringleaders for the wildest circuses on the planet. If they crack, the film is doomed to fail. The director must keep his cool so that everyone else does.

So now the film is shot. Yay! The only thing that's left for the director to do is work with the editors on creating first a rough cut and then a final cut of the film. The director gives his input throughout the process on what he thinks looks and feels better. Sometimes, this leads to reshoots of scenes or even cutting entire scenes from the film. But hey, who ever said directing was easy?

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