Always wanted to know how to direct a movie? (Even if you the only thing you know how to do is turn the camera on.) Here are 12 keys to help navigate your experience directing a movie for the first-time.
How to Direct a Movie (Even If You're a Total Newbie)
HOW TO DIRECT A
MOVIE (EVEN IF
YOU’RE A TOTAL
BROUGHT TO YOU BY…
#1: FAKE IT
When it comes to film-biz confidence, ya gotta have it
(before you’ve earned it)
If you doubt your abilities as a director, the script, your crew, or your
VISION, everyone involved in making your movie will too. If you're a total
newb, you will encounter aspects of the business you're not yet privy to,
but don't show it! Don't give them a chance to doubt you.
#2: DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Work harder than anybody else on your crew
Directing is not something you can wing or show up day-of and just see
what happens. Make sure you have your storyboard, shot list, script notes
and EVERYTHING you need for each day's shooting schedule ready before
you show up to set. You you can't risk losing the respect of the crew. Stay
organized and be PREPARED!
#3: DON’T BE ARROGANT
Check your ego at the (film-set) door
LISTEN to your crew, be open minded, and don't assume you know more
than everyone else involved. Losing your cool and SCREAMING at your
crew will make them far less willing to put in good work. If you're polite
and gracious, you'll get better performances from everyone involved.
#4: FIND YOUR OBI-WAN
Make sure you have a GOOD producer
It's widely accepted that the Director is the BOSS on set since they get
most of the credit for a finished film, but the producer is actually the one
who calls the SHOTS. They get your movie made and work through
logistics. Having a producer you work well with, who understands your
vision and who is organized, will help greatly in your directing role.
#5: WATCH MOVIES
Be an avid student of film
A good director doesn't just know what a director does, they must also be well-
versed in all things film. To make their VISION a reality, they need to be able to
communicate to the grip about what kind of lighting they need, what sort of
audio they’re aiming to capture, and different editing techniques. LEARN as
much as you can, WEAR as many hats as you're offered, and you'll be able to
communicate and understand what you can and can't accomplish logistically.
#6: HIT THE STAGE
Understand the craft of acting
Some of the best directors are ones who have ACTED before. In order to get
moving performances from your actors, you need to be able to understand the
art of acting. If this means getting in front of the camera yourself, give it a shot!
Being able to emotionally CONNECT with an actor and their associations with
the role they're playing will yield much greater performances.
#7: GET INVOLVED
Stay connected with your film community
To stay sharp and keep your instincts strong, it's very helpful to regularly
ENGAGE with other filmmakers. They'll help you BOUNCE ideas back and
forth, make discoveries and stay inspired. It'll help you find who you are as
a filmmaker and boost your confidence as well. (It's also always good to
have a few connections in the business when you need a favor or help
along the way.)
#8: GET EMOTIONAL
Ya gotta emotionally connect with your story
Even if you didn't WRITE the screenplay, make sure the film you're
DIRECTING is one you can connect to emotionally. You need to
understand each character's emotions, fears, and hopes in order to visually
CAPTURE the same sentiments and to get those performances out of your
actors. If you don't believe in the story, your crew won't either.
#9: PEEL THE (STORY) ONION
Understand your script inside and out
Don't just know the lines and the order in which they're spoken, to really
DIRECT well you have to UNDERSTAND the subtext of each line, the
blank spaces, and each and every look and pause. You need to understand
what the characters are THINKING at any moment so you can let your
actors know when you want to get a different performance out of them.
#10: HAVE A VISION
Know what you want (then communicate that)
Your cast and crew wants to be DIRECTED. If you can communicate your
vision well and your ideas are sound, the crew will LISTEN to you. You just
have to be sure that you know how to communicate what it is you see to all
the different crew members. Know their language. Be patient and make
sure you know exactly what you want so you won't have any trouble
#11: FIND TALENT
Keep talented people in your corner
Yes, you may be a first-time director, but don't be scared. You'll catch
up in no time. A good way to COVER your bases until you do is to make
sure you have talented people working with you. They'll be able to take
up the slack where you're still LEARNING until you're up to speed. But
don't take them for granted!
#12: MAKE THE DAMN FILM
Learn to get out of your own way
With today's technology, it's easier than ever to make a movie despite what
your limitations may be. So there's no excuse! Don't TALK about how
you'll someday DIRECT, do it! Don't procrastinate until everything is
perfectly in place, just jump in! Don't get in your own way.
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