Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video The collaboration and alignment of visions, part of Filmmaking Forum: Conversations.
- Hi everyone. In this episode of the Filmmaking Forum Conversations course we're going to really dig into a very important part of what filmmaking is all about, which is the art of collaboration. This week's filmmakers and editors discuss smart collaboration strategies, as well as encouraging productive pushback, the importance of aligning personalities and visions, and so much more. I hope you enjoy. - One of the most wonderful things about making a film is this idea of lots of artists coming together, it's the collaboration and with that is a difficulty.
So I think as you're working on a script and then you're actually shooting a film and the logistics and the cast and the crew, there's lots things that are ultimately out of your hands. - I think the greatest thing about film-making is the fact that it's a very collaborative effort. You start out with this ball that you have and then you start passing that ball around, and by the time that ball comes back to you it's something a little bit different than what you would have been able to do by yourself. - And I'm open to ideas from everywhere. I see 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.
- You're gonna have clashes and differences. You're gonna have different thoughts and different ideas and when you try those things out together you're both gonna think of totally new things that you wouldn't have thought of by yourself. And that's what makes a film, a film is so collaborative. It's the same way that you hire a DP because you know they can pull off your vision and you also know that they have their own fantastic, artistic sense and visual sense and they're gonna bring that to your film.
- If you're working with me, we're collaborating, I expect pushback if a DP's not happy for a reason. And I've hired this person and I respect their opinion. And nine times out of 10 they're probably right. They throw something out that I haven't thought of. They're here to enhance my vision. I 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. - I like to have a collaborative environment where the ideas that I've developed over 20 years may not be the best way of doing it, and I like my assistants to be able to speak up if they learned of a new piece of software or a new technique or a way of working faster or more efficiently.
I'm constantly open to new ideas like that. - At the end of the day, after everyone's had their say, people have to take responsibility for their area. So a DP, if it's an exposure thing or lighting is gonna say, "I'm gonna make this call, 'cause that's my area." The director in terms of blocking, performance, camera angles, coverage, those sorts of things, that's his or her responsibility.
If it's an argument about which lens to use it's the DP. If the sound is an issue it's the sound of course. So really people have to step up and take responsibility for their area. But there are a lot of those areas that fall under the director and once everyone's had their discussion it's up to her or him to say, "Okay, I might be wrong, but we're doing it this way." - Me honestly, I'd much rather work with somebody that's easy to work with or that understands my vision that maybe didn't have as much experience, because that person I can communicate with.
So your choice of collaborators is very important. Don't just pick somebody because their, they have a great reel or they have a great credits, you also have to look at their personality and whether or not they share your vision. Not everybody's gonna share your vision and that's okay, but you should know that going in and make sure you meet somewhere in the middle or have the ability to meet somewhere in the middle. - So much of this is about personality. I've been hired to do work because the other person was just a pain. And the producer wanted to work with me because I was fun.
- I take a lot of effort in preparing my crew and so making sure that I have the right personnel for the right project. And sometimes I'll compromise and work with somebody that maybe doesn't bring the best quality work, but works better as a team. - So the other person might have been more experienced and maybe even more talented, 'cause he or she was more advanced than I was, but it's a long time, it's a lot of work, and so someone who makes this whole thing seem fun and positive, we can do it, that's the person that's gonna be hired.
- You're gonna be on the set sometimes for 12 hours, and let's be real, sometimes it goes 18 hours, and then things start to get really important when people get a little hungry and tired and things like that, those personalities start to come out. So you gotta have a nice mesh. - And it's working with a strong team where you have shorthand and you have a great working relationship. And they understand you, they understand where you're coming from I think is very important. - I would say the most important thing to have with a director is some kind of rapport or creative rapport, maybe even friendship if possible, but start as early in the process as possible.
If you don't have that creative rapport it's probably not gonna go too well. There needs to be an atmosphere of openness and freedom to make mistakes, which there should be in any creative process. - Particularly if it's a fiction project, for example, that you're meeting with a producer who reads the script and has a different vision for it than you do, I think at that point you just have to say, you know what, this isn't a good match, and keep looking. 'Cause if you intentionally get into a situation with someone that you know isn't quite getting it the way you get it then that's just a recipe for problems, in my opinion.
- The first thing you have to do is make sure that you get along with that producer. If that producer has completely different views or views that I don't agree with it would be very hard to work together. - You need to get people who have, who are basically on the same page with you to go into the process in the first place. Or who's ideas you find exciting, that you think this can bring something to it and help me make it better. - And often there is a difference between the story the producer wants to tell and the story that the footage and all the material you have, what it says.
And so I find that my biggest challenge as an editor is helping the producer see the story they have if it's not the same story that they wanted. - Or how to bring the conversation around gently to what are we gonna do about this shot? It doesn't work. So unfortunately the editor's job is sometimes you have to deliver the bad news in one way or the other. And that's a skill that it takes a lifetime.
- 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