Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video Appreciating the director's job, part of Filmmaking Forum: Conversations.
- [Erik] I think being a director, it's about being a great leader and being able to kind of implement everyone's talent in the best way possible. I think sometimes people directors get caught up in this whole thing of just telling people what to do, and I don't believe in that at all. I almost try to look at everything as sort of a family base. So everybody in the family needs to bring something to the table. And when everybody clicks, that's when something great happens. - And I think those that are just sort of barking orders will probably find that they'll get a very sort of sanitized, clinical version of what they're trying to get, rather than if they speak to their crew as saying you know this is what I'm trying to achieve with that with this particular scene.
- And I'm open to ideas from everywhere. I'm seeing myself more like a sieve, so I have the big overall objective, and I hear everybody's ideas and what comes through the sieve, we keep, and what doesn't, stays. - I talk about the overall feel and the look that I'm looking for, and then I try to tell everybody to have as much fun as possible, and that I'm open to any ideas that people have there. And I try to, I really try to listen to everybody, and if somebody has an awesome idea, I take it and I say let's try it. That being said, I don't always have a ton of time, so it's gotta be a really awesome idea.
But it happens, sometimes somebody, you know, knows something or sees something. All of a sudden you get this awesome thing, and that's the best part is just that where you can get that collaboration and that creative explosion where you capture this awesome moment, and it's because, you know, you're open to it. I love that stuff. - The really good directors are ready to change anything, because something that made sense, on the page, now all of a sudden, you see the actor do it and you realize you don't need four of those lines, because it's actually said in terms of body language and performance.
Camera move says something that maybe duplicates what a line of dialogue does. - And also, if you're working with me, we're collaborating, I expect push back if the DP's not happy for a reason, and I hired this person and I respect their opinion, and you know nine times out of ten they're probably right. They throw something out that I haven't thought of. They're here to enhance my vision, and never see anything that they bring to the table as kind of like criticism, it's always to make it better and better and better. - [Jason] Sometimes you'll come across these people that you're working with and they're very very serious, and they went to film school, and they know their cameras, they know lighting.
They know what's possible and what's not possible, and they approach it from a almost a non-creative viewpoint. And those are the hardest people that, I have a hard time, 'cause I know everything's possible. I know we can get it as long as you went through the notes I gave you, you know what set-ups we're gonna be doing. I know we can get it. I just try to be as nice and open and cool as possible, and I let them vent. I'll let them say why we can't do it, and then I'll say well maybe we can do this this and this.
And they'll go, well I guess we can do this and this, and I try to get them into a mind frame of what can we do. And once you get somebody on board that way, and they all of a sudden they start solving problems on their own, it starts to work, and it starts to gel. And after, you know, a couple days of that you've found a new guy that you can work with, you know. - [Abigail] I think in terms of prep, when you're working with your crew, it's making sure that you have communicated clearly your vision.
- In terms of my understanding of film, I always sort of understood the idea of the author. The sort of single creative vision. As much as possible as a director, I think you should be striving to, number one, be pulling people into your vision and incorporating that into that, because they need to find a personal connection to what you're trying to achieve. - You have to always understand as a director, that it's their work and their help that's making your vision come to life, so you have to be able to appreciate that.
- I dunno there's something interesting about end products and projects is that it seems that when something has been picked apart by a million different people, it just seems to lose any kind of identifying sense of self, but something about when it has come from somebody who has a strong sense of style or personality, you sort of respond to it almost as though it is a person. Like if you think of films by Quentin Tarantino, or Steven Spielberg they're undeniably those films by those people you can see it out there on the screen.
And I think that's what we're working towards, is we're trying to create films that have personality, and aren't just everything to everyone, I guess. Because that just becomes a mess. - [Abigail] You have to have reasons and answers for so many questions, from the props department, from wardrobe, from camera, are we gonna rack here or is it all going to be focused on which lens we gonna use? And then from the actor themselves. - I focus on the actors first. I go and I talk to the actors, and I try to create an environment that is as comfortable as possible for them.
I like to have them meet with each other before hand. I like to have them hang out and talk to each other. I like to talk to them, and I try to create a camp-like atmosphere, where it's us against the world, and let's try to make the best thing that we possibly can. - Well I think as a director, you really really need to understand everything, not just the narrative. You need to understand all of these creative decisions and how they inform the narrative. - But that's what's so awesome about it, and if you're willing to embrace that chaos and to answer those questions as quickly as possible, cause questions will just fly from you from everybody.
What do you think about this light, should it be this gun, what do you think about this tie, should my hair be parted on the right? It's just all of that stuff. It's like and explosion, and you get to like manage this explosion. - Directing is so much an exercise of time management, you know. I think, anything is too, but you know, I feel like editing you can kind of like extend a day if you need to. You can kind of work faster through things, and take extra time when necessary.
Where as, I feel like directing and being on a set when you have a whole crew of people, it really is like okay we have to get this done, 'cause we only have 12 hours, and we can't possibly like waste all of these people's times, and you have to think on your feet, and you have to make all these decisions. You have to compromise, you have to adapt really quickly. And so that was a really nice change for me, and it gave me a new-found respect for directors. 'Cause I think it's so easy to sit in Anita Bay and be like why didn't they do that? Or God if only they'd done that? It's like well there was a reason for that.
- [Jason] I approach everything I do when I'm shooting as an edit, and I view everything that we're shooting as how can I cut this together? Is this gonna work? Do I need coverage of this? And that's just kind of built into me now, that's the only way I think. And I think it's why I'm, I can go out and shoot a television commercial and get it done on time and not waste everybody's time with too much wackiness. Because ultimately, I'm constantly looking at the edit, and I'm forming it in my head as we get it.
And if I'm, if we're on, you know, shooting out of sequence, and I know that we're doing a scene over on Friday, but we're shooting the rest of it earlier in the week on Wednesday, I sit there and I look at what we're doing look at the script and I look at my ideas, and I formulate my edit in my head, and I go okay, I would love to see this, I would love to see this. Let's plan for that. Let's pick that up. But yeah, it's just constantly running. - Having an editing background kind of enabled me to make those split decisions with a much more informed opinion about what I would need later on.
So, you know, obviously you try to get as much footage as possible, so you have room to work, and kind of work your way through problems if they arise. But, you know, when you're running out of time, and you have to choose between shot A or shot B, well I know editorially what I'm gonna need more. So I can kind of think about it in that way.
- Advice for novice filmmakers entering the industry
- Finding, enhancing, and tweaking your story
- Experimenting in filmmaking
- Solving problems and troubleshooting your film
- Changing your approach or finding new angles
- Communicating and collaborating on set and in the edit room—and with clients
- Working on different genres of film
- Teaching and mentoring new filmmakers