9 Things you don’t want to hear about directing!
Are you an aspiring director? While it could be a great adventure to become one, there are a lot of hurdles on the way. It takes an unshakeable passion, love for cinema and commitment to the dream to get there. We are all talented, and everyone is creative and am positive everyone will put in the effort. However it is not the talent, or creativity or the effort – it requires commitment. So, it is better to make sure you have what it takes before stepping into the journey.
Here I am going to talk about 9 things you don’t want to hear about directing. These are the things that could scare people away from their aim to become a director. If you are worried that it might change your mind, then you are the person who has to read this. Because if you want to go ahead on this path even after reading this, then you have the real passion for it. If not, maybe it is not your cup of tea.
Making Money and having a secured job is a faraway dream
If you are new to the film industry and are trying to become a director the traditional way , it could be years before you get a chance and years after that to become an established director. In the meantime, your income from this field is not going to be much and you can forget job security. Unless you have a film background or deep pockets to support yourself, it is going to be a very rough ride at the start. So, buckle up. However if you are intelligent and adaptive , there are plenty of way to make money – with increasing number of formats of film – best way to become a director is to be open to experiences in the field of film making. I
In my career I have worked in production, assisted directors, edited , ghost written for tv shows and acted in films. I have also worked as an channel producer and creative producer , and head of production in advertising. I have directed shorts, Corporate films, Documentaries, small animation films before getting into mainstream advertising and cinema. Being able to adapt to new experience and keeping myself flexible to learn yet without moving my eyes off from what I want, and learning constantly is the only reason I survived 15 years in the business and to grow as a director. So buckle up.
You have to be a visionary
When you set out to make a movie, you need to be able to imagine the output even before you get started. You need to have a deep understanding of every minutest detail, the colour of the wall in scene one where the character is introduced and how the character would react in the scene 25 – enact it and know exactly how. You should picture the lighting, the scene, and the background music – not that cannot wait till post production. You need to be able to see from the audience’s perspective as well, to know if the film you direct will be received well or not.
For this, you need to be able to visualize the entire film in your head. This visualization is what will help your story-telling skills as well. You know, the one you need to get producers and big stars in the field on board.
Directors have to be Jack of all Trades
As a director, you need to get people to do things and people include cameraman, actors, musicians, and other technicians. These are all professionals in their niche. However, you as a director is going to be giving them directions. If you don’t know a squat about their craft, you won’t be able to get the best out of them. You have to have a decent knowledge of what each of the people in your crew can do and what it takes for them to do it. Only then can you work well with them and get the best out of them.
Directors Need to Be Accomodating
As a director, you can have great visions and know the ‘how-to’ of everything involved in film making but if you cannot be accommodating to others, you will struggle. You might have your own goals and imagination of how everything in the movie you are creating should be. However, the actors and other technicians you are going to be hiring have their individual touches and ideas. Then there is the producer who more than anything wants to make money and will keep imposing his ideas and restrictions on you. You can’t make them do what you want with an iron fist. This will only lead to an unhappy crew and half-hearted efforts.
A director should be able to let people in on his vision. You should understand that each artist is capable of coming up with brilliant ideas and lend your ear when they do. Film making is a collaborative effort, you cannot do it on your own or have your way all the time.
The weight of responsibility and decision-making lies on the shoulder of the director
While as a director, you might not be calling all the shots but you are going to take all the responsibility for the outcome. Whatever goes wrong during the filming or after will be all a director’s responsibility. You are answerable to your producers and your crew.
The entire film making process involves countless decisions and the majority of it is going to be made by the director. Be it whether the lighting is right for the shoot or dialogue delivery is good enough, as the director you are going to have to take a lot of decisions.
Director needs to master patience
(or at least try to)
As the decision-maker and person-in-charge, people are going to come to you with all their doubts and questions. Sometimes, the questions they ask could appear trivial too. But there is nothing called trivial in film making now is there? Should it be blue? Should it light blue or sky blue? Costume stylist may ask. Should i turn left or right , what if i turned right and a bit more. An actor might ask. That’s exactly your job – TAKING DECISIONS – direction of visual and story is nothing but decisions – and while in order to be posed with decision – you need people to work on it before you apply your decisions.
I usually say this to my technicians and designers – “I would like to work with an artist and not an operator” An artist creates something applying self , whereas the operator just moves his fingers as per instructions of another. Once the artist is ready and happy with what is created is when a director needs to apply his discretion and direct people in a certain way. But if the director will decide the design of a shirt and colour, texture and cut – well he could might as well design it himself cant he? Yes there will be changes – correction about the colour, texture and cut from the director but the team will have to create it themselves by applying their creativity.
A director should have patience for them to create that and share it with you. One shouldn’t forget that these people are dependent on you and are only trying to not make mistakes. That being said, keeping your cool while being bombarded with question day-in and day-out could be very hard and a necessary thing to do.
If you don’t have a thick skin, Film direction isn’t for you
People who appreciate hard work and creativity are few, while there are loads of people queuing up to criticize. From your own crew to the critics, everybody is going to find chances and ways to criticize your work as a director and many times even for others’ work. Like I said if you don’t have a thick skin, film direction isn’t for you. I don’t mean for you to be difficult, I just simply mean you shouldn’t get affected by comments and critiquing that comes your way . Everyone wont see what you have in your head, and they don’t have to – Should they listen to you – well absolutely yes – if you are the director – they should listen to you – if they don’t – they shouldn’t be in the project.
Director needs to be an artist, a businessman and a psychologist all in one
The role of the director in film making is such that it has so many facets to it. While you are trying to get producers for your movie, you have to be a businessman. Your storytelling doesn’t just be engaging but you have to convince the producer that he will profit from the project. The artist side of you is required in the actual process of direction. You need to know a great deal of psychology to deal with different kinds of people. There might big stars and people who are way more experienced, with brittle egos and a sour attitude working in your movie. How do you deal with these egoistic people? Well, by keep the eye on the ball – you are not there to please anyone but to create something extraordinary.
Yes its true you should work with people who you connect with, I have learnt this the hard way in couple of projects – it creates enormous amount of friction and trouble when people around you question your vision or don’t trust it. A project where there is trust and respect you will see better results.
What does a director get out of a movie’s success
So, after all this hard work and patience, what does the director get for a successful movie? The money? Well not so much, that goes for the producer who put in the money. Fame and limelight? Again not too much that goes the face of the movie i.e. the actors. As a new director, what you will get is a little trust from people that you are capable of handling a feature length movie. All the recognition and money comes after you keep up to this trust and expectation and continue to create some tremendous work. Until then, what gets you going is exactly why you chose to be a director… the joy of film making, the love for cinema, the satisfaction of telling a story your way and most importantly to be able to share your views and thoughts to the audience. If this is why you are a director – fame, success, money becomes secondary.
As a director, Most important aspect of your job is to bring out the best of the people you are working with and tell stories in a way that appeals to people. Your actual reward will be the audience’s reaction and appreciation. If that is enough to satisfy you for your efforts, then you can chase your dream of becoming a director.