Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Behind the Scenes 5: The Director

Image courtesy of www.123rf.com

Forget that classic image of the film director with megaphone in hand. The person who rallies the troops on the film set is the Assistant Director - and ADs very seldom use megaphones. (We're a bit more high-tech these days; we use two-way radios with headsets).

The Director's role is to create the Vision for the movie. The responsibility for making the movie work, for translating the script into celluloid, falls entirely on his or her shoulders. During pre-production, he interprets the script, hires the crew and cast he thinks will best suit his vision, and gives direction to all the other departments.

The director usually has the final say on which locations are selected, which actors are cast, what types of lenses are used to create the look, how the actors will be dressed etc. (Though if the director's still quite junior and still proving himself, he may have his decisions vetoed by the people with the power.)

Many people liken the director to a general in the army. He gives the orders, but he still has to answer to and accept orders from the government.

Once principal photography (ie. actual filming) begins, he's usually the guy (or gal) sitting quietly behind the monitor, watching the action. He directs the actors, working with them on their performances, and provides leadership to the entire film unit.

Much like writers, the most special skill that directors bring to movie productions are themselves. Their vision is the filmic equivalent of a writer's 'voice'.

Each director works differently, depending on their temperament. Some will be more involved, more vocal, while others will be quiet and restrained. Some will shout and throw tantrums (yes, I've worked with a few of those), some believe they're gods, and others are really great people to work with (thank heavens, that's the majority I work with).

Supporting the director is a team of assistant directors, the subject of next week's post.


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