Film directors often have very different directing styles when making movies. This video tutorial examines some of the best Hollywood directors and their unique styles and characteristics. Some movie directors focus on directing actors, while others focus on telling stories, while others focus on action, while others focus on creating visual art.
- When I first started directing films, I was intimidated by all that there was to learn. What made that even worst, is that people on film sets would always point out, well, you know, actually David Fincher does it this way, or Quentin Tarantino said, "never do it like that." So, not only do I have to know everything there is to know about acting, and music, and art, but I have to know know how every director does everything. Well, I'm here to tell you that both of these ideas are falsehoods. First, while you do need to be familiar with all aspects of filmmaking, you don't have to be a master of all aspects of filmmaking.
There are directors that are phenomenal at one thing, and that's enough. Tarsem Singh is a master of surreal and compelling visual art. David O. Russell is a master of character work. - You are afraid to be alive. You are afraid to live. - [Teacher] Michael Bay is master of spectacle and thrilling shots. James Cameron is a master of developing new technologies, and then using those to tell stories that absolutely shatter box office records. Alfred Hitchcock was a master of suspense. Roger Corman is a master of making fun movies, inexpensive.
- You not only made a butcher out of me, but you drove my girl away. - [Voiceover] Shut up and bring on the food. - And the list goes on and on. But, as great as Tarsem Singh is at what he does, he probably wouldn't have done a great job with Casablanca. And, as great as David O. Russell is, no one's gonna ask him to make the next Avengers movie. My point is that you don't have to be perfect at all aspects of filmmaking. Make films that speak to your strengths, whatever your strengths are. If you're great with actors, then focus us being great with actors.
Maybe you're into action movies, or horror movies, or whatever. And, maybe you're not the best with character development. That's okay. You can still make great films. I think the key is to just keep getting better at everything, while still staying true to what make you movies and filmmaking. Now, the other idea, that you have to find the right way to do things, is equally false. We'll look at some great directing references at the end of this training series. But, one that completely changed and helped me, was the book Moviemaker's Master Class by Laurent Tirard. It's basically just transcripts of interviews with celebrated directors, such as Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Tim Burton, the Coen brothers, and tons more.
If was so fascinating to me. These super successful directors completely contradicted each other. Some would talk about how they loved zoom lens, while others said they only use primes. Some directors said that acting rehearsals are essential, while others said that rehearsals are a terrible idea. And, these are just two of the many, many things these accomplished directors disagreed on. So, again, my point here is that you don't have to be someone else, and blindly follow someone else's rules in order to be successful. In terms of the types of films you make, and the way in which you make them, they're aren't many hardened and fast rules.
You do you. Make great films, whatever you think those are, and using whatever methods and workflow you feel is best to create them.
Watch and learn how to shoot a script, using visual motifs, atmospherics, framing, and different types of shots to tell the film's story. Find out how to give direction to your crew and be a good leader, while staying on budget and on schedule. Plus, get tips to improve shots during retakes or in post, and to become a better director, storyteller, and communicator.
Note: Like the rest of the Creating a Short Film series, this course was shot during the production of The Assurance. It offers a unique window into the actual struggles and challenges filmmakers have to overcome to get films made. Find the rest of the courses in the series on Chad's author page.
- What a director does
- Interpreting the script
- Scouting locations
- Choosing the tone and theme of the film
- Using motifs
- Shaping the story through visuals
- Being a good leader on set
- Respecting budgets and schedules
- Planning shots
- Moving the camera: on a tripod or dolly or in handheld shots
- Using rolling takes
- Framing shots
- Adding atmospherics
- Directing in post-production
- Becoming a better director