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Best directors you've worked with


Justin Hayward
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Good traits - deeply knowledgable in at least one field of filmmaking other than cinematography (editing, design, production, writing, acting, sound, fx); good at handling stress and staying positive; good at handling difficult personalities; genuinely cares about people and how they are treated; always thinking ahead; able to understand the realities of the current situation; able to improvise; able to delegate responsibility and also to accept responsibility for their choices; able to multi-task; able to operate at least 70% efficiency with little to no sleep; willing and able to fight for what they need in the face of intense opposition; able to forgive and let things go; willing to buy a round for the crew at the end of the day; willing to learn everyone's name, say thank you, and mean it.

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Great points, thanks Satsuki. Learning people's name is hard because I mostly direct commercials and I only work with everyone a day or two, but I know the main players. I really hope people believe my thanks. I think I'm okay at all the rest except being stressed and staying positive. I tend to get angry when I'm stressed, but I mostly project it on the producers, not the crew...

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Directors who knew the story inside and out, who cared deeply about performance and narrative, but who also wanted it to look as good as it could; who had strong ideas about the look, but who also wanted input from others; who understand that it's not just actors that need direction.

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With my primary workload having been with internet productions, I can sure as hell tell you the traits of a bad director. Guys who don't feel bad about taking frequent breaks, freak out when challenged by something or someone, lose their cool on making a decision/solving a problem (and I always end up being the one to bail them out), and never forget the wonderful "I'm the director!" when they don't have a good explanation to a choice affecting others working on the project.

 

Now that I think about it I don't think I've ever worked under a great director.

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and never forget the wonderful "I'm the director!" when they don't have a good explanation to a choice affecting others working on the project.

 

Well actually that's a valid explanation, someone has to make a final decision on a movie set. Imagine if the director had to come up with a list of reasons every time he makes a decision. The shoot day would be 38 hours long.

 

I highly doubt that people say to James Cameron.....oh we're not doing that unless you can give us a good explanation as to why.

 

Lot's of people struggle with the idea that the director may over rule something they want to do, but....it's my department, it's my vision, they will argue. Well sorry, but the director can make the drapes in the master bedroom green, just because his favourite colour is green.

 

R,

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Well actually that's a valid explanation, someone has to make a final decision on a movie set. Imagine if the director had to come up with a list of reasons every time he makes a decision. The shoot day would be 38 hours long.

 

I highly doubt that people say to James Cameron.....oh we're not doing that unless you can give us a good explanation as to why.

 

Lot's of people struggle with the idea that the director may over rule something they want to do, but....it's my department, it's my vision, they will argue. Well sorry, but the director can make the drapes in the master bedroom green, just because his favourite colour is green.

 

R,

Cameron is a completely different thing to what I'm talking about. He and many other directors are proven products that you trust, I'm speaking of an environment that lacks this pre-established notion. No director has gone their entire early career without being questioned. When you're at a stage like that, "I'm the director" comes off as "I ran out of reasons I just don't know" instead of "I have this under control".

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When you're at a stage like that, "I'm the director" comes off as "I ran out of reasons I just don't know" instead of "I have this under control".

Even if the director doesn't know what they're doing, they are still the director. You might disagree with them, but it's their call.

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Even if the director doesn't know what they're doing, they are still the director. You might disagree with them, but it's their call.

Yes but all actions a director performs (whether it be body of work or just the current set) go into the important role of commanding respect once the crew is in a position where those close calls need to be made. I don't mean that to be a special challenge because every person I've talked to who is truly knowledgeable and confident (which is what we've established a good director is) I've had no problem with conceding to.

 

Pulling rank as a first option comes off as cantankerous.

Edited by Macks Fiiod
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Even if the director doesn't know what they're doing, they are still the director. You might disagree with them, but it's their call.

While I agree with this in general, I have seen directors make it really difficult to take their word for it. A few years ago, for political reasons, I co-directed a table top commercial with a guy that didn't know anything technical. That was fine until he brought one of the agency creatives over to me, the DP, and the 1st AC and asked if we could shoot several pairs of shoes sitting on a rotator at 48fps. I told him we couldn't, because we were at a T8 and if we went to a 5.6 we wouldn't hold focus from front to back when the shoes rotated lengthwise. And I didn't want to get into relighting for more stop unless there was good reason. I said if he wants the rotation to move slower I can just slow the rotator by half. He said he would rather shoot 48fps. I asked why. He said because "more frames are better." I explained that nothing on the rotator is moving so we can just slow the rotator down by half and you'll get "more frames".

 

"So you're telling me I can't shoot 48fps?"

"That's what I'm telling you."

 

He rolled his eyes and left. We tried to figure out why on earth he thinks "more frames are better" when it's totally unrelated to slow motion. Then it occurred to me that the first Hobbit movie just came out and he likely read about HFR, but didn't understand how it worked. I later found out on another job he shot clothes hanging on racks at 96fps. After something like that happens it makes "cause I'm the director" a little hard to swallow. Good thing, in that case, I was also the director :)

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I've got my fair share of horror stories about incompetent directors too, but you just have to smile and grit your teeth when one says something stupid or ill-informed. If it's really bad, and you genuinely think it's hurting the film, then you could go to the producer, but that's a good way to get a name for yourself as a troublemaker, deserved or not.

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Well of course when a project is a total disaster who gets all the blame? The DOP? The gaffer? The 1st AC? The Prod Des?

 

NOPE.

 

It all lands on the director, that's the game. Incompetent or not when the director says, "too bright," and you say, "no it's ok," it has to be made "less bright."

 

Then if it turns out to be over lit and everyone hates it, well the director will have to take the fall for that. And you can snidely say under your breath, HA! I told him so.

 

R,

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I was more referring to incompetence that leads to unnecessary work or worse, overtime. If I wasn't there to stop him, he likely would have made them relight for more stop, which would have been a total waste of time and we were already behind schedule. But I understand a DP going over the director to the producer probably won't look good under any circumstance.

 

And yes, Richard, I've taken a lot of blame and it sucks.

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Just read a great book called Independent Ed. Ed Burns talks about his first experience on the set of Saving Private Ryan with Steven Spielberg and how it changed how he directed actors on his own films. Seems like Stevens method of directing is to let actors have a few takes to "find it on their own", and only if it's needed and they're going in the wrong direction he'll intervene. It's a great book though if you want to hear about the highs and lows of a lengthy career directing indie flicks.

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Just read a great book called Independent Ed. Ed Burns talks about his first experience on the set of Saving Private Ryan with Steven Spielberg and how it changed how he directed actors on his own films. Seems like Stevens method of directing is to let actors have a few takes to "find it on their own", and only if it's needed and they're going in the wrong direction he'll intervene. It's a great book though if you want to hear about the highs and lows of a lengthy career directing indie flicks.

I really love that book. Now I have to re-read it since you brought it up.

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Lot's of people struggle with the idea that the director may over rule something they want to do, but....it's my department, it's my vision, they will argue. Well sorry, but the director can make the drapes in the master bedroom green, just because his favourite colour is green.

 

R,

Grass not green enough, Mr. Antonioni? Sure, we'll paint it green.

There was also a scene in Red Desert where he whitewashed fruit on a grocer's barrow, but that was just plain weird.

At least you know why Richard Harris looks so bemused throughout.

Edited by Mark Dunn
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Grass not green enough, Mr. Antonioni? Sure, we'll paint it green.

 

Hey, you just gave me a great idea for the next shoot.

 

R,

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The thread was called, "Best Directors You've Worked With."

 

Not supposed to be a crew bitch-o-mony and gripe-a-mony.

 

Maybe we should have a new thread, "Worst Crews You've Worked With," and ONLY credited directors can comment.

 

Geez, I would be able to fill 19 pages with crew bad behaviour alone, shocking really.

 

R,

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The thread was called, "Best Directors You've Worked With."

 

Not supposed to be a crew bitch-o-mony and gripe-a-mony.

 

Maybe we should have a new thread, "Worst Crews You've Worked With," and ONLY credited directors can comment.

 

Geez, I would be able to fill 19 pages with crew bad behaviour alone, shocking really.

 

R,

 

It is a thing, forum threads mutate. Its very easy to forget the original topic title once your in it. I'm evidently guilty of it, but as are many of us.

 

The best directors I've worked with have mainly been in radio drama. Something about the discipline that allows them to really take a script apart and find nuance in it.

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I will bet you that for every one "credited director" who thinks a crew are poop and is right, there are 300 crew who think a director was an idiot and were right.

Crew have training and come up through the ranks like military. And do it a lot more than directors. Directors dont have any of that necessarily.

Its so sad that most directors are crap. Actors especially deserve better.

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I will bet you that for every one "credited director" who thinks a crew are poop and is right, there are 300 crew who think a director was an idiot and were right.

Crew have training and come up through the ranks like military. And do it a lot more than directors. Directors dont have any of that necessarily.

Its so sad that most directors are crap. Actors especially deserve better.

 

I think you win the award for biggest BS post in the history of the forum! Actually made me laugh out loud in fact.

 

"Crew have training and come up through the ranks like military."

 

Oh that's a good one. Do you write comedy professionally?

 

R,

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