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How to Direct a Movie (Even If You're a Total Newbie)


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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.

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How to Direct a Movie (Even If You're a Total Newbie)

  2. 2. #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.
  3. 3. #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!
  4. 4. #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.
  5. 5. #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.
  6. 6. #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.
  7. 7. #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.
  8. 8. #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.)
  9. 9. #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.
  10. 10. #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.
  11. 11. #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 EXPLAINING it.
  12. 12. #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!
  13. 13. #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.
  15. 15. CONNECT WITH US!
  16. 16. “There are many vampires in the world today. All you have to do is think of the film business.” – Christopher Lee