May 17, 2012

Directing a film

Whether the film is a blockbuster with guns and machines or a small art house film, the same work has to be done. Here are some of the duties of a skilled director:

• He is offered the script and he reads it through and thinks about it. Now that he has the gist of the story, he reads it again and makes copious notes.

• His notes include some ideas he has for the film, how to shoot it, which angles, how many, and possible edit points for the scenes.

• He draws up a budget which is time consuming as it entails going out to locations to see if it is viable to shoot there. His assistant is with him and makes a list of permits to be obtained.

• The director meets with the actors and start with the audition and rehearsal process.

• On a second visit to the locations, he makes more notes and permission has to be obtained from homeowners and sometimes even the police for big hectic shoots.

• The director and the creative producer go out to the sites to ensure the site is viable and have permission to shoot there. The editor is with the director at this point to discuss viable editing points in the film.

• The director and the producer sit down with the caterers for the production and draw up an eating plan, how many actors, how many days of shooting, how much food.

• The director sits down with the art director and takes a look at what he has proposed for the different sets and he and the producer estimate the cost.

• The director talks to the first assistant director about how many days for the shoot, and she draws up a production schedule which includes every scene.

• The director also meets with the sound guy and the musicians to discuss the music end of the film and they agree on a price.

• The cameraman is the head of the crew and sits down with both the director, creative producer and the sound guy to discuss stock, scenes, and agree how the film will be shot.

This is only the beginning of a nightmarish eighteen or twenty six days. Things can go wrong. Production assistants can lose the beat. Laptops are open on trestle tables and schedules and sides are printed. There are meetings every day in pre production and the director and creative producer get hardly any sleep. A million things still need to be done before the camera is finally switched on. At this time the director is jacked up and ready to go.

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