director can have a tremendous effect on the environmental impact
of a film by setting a tone on the set. While the producer can set
guidelines, it is the director who is under the constant scrutiny
of the cast and crew. With this attention, the director can have
some influence over the priorities of the shoot. The director can
also be responsible for how much film is shot by planning his or
her shoot carefully. Following, some other musing on directing and
35MM, SUPER l6MM, l6MM, OR VIDEO? A few generalizations
can be made about the question of which format to shoot. With the
advent of M'l'V, the grainy look has become associated with style
as well as low budget, so my advice would be: if you have a good
story or subject, make the movie at whatever cost. Don't wait around
and blame your budget. Shoot video if need be; it will get your
production past the idea stage, and you will "learn by doing."
Audiences have a wide visual palette now, and will even accept video-to-film
blow-ups. The best way lo learn directing is by doing it. And the
best way to pitch yourself as a director is with a body of work.
35MM VS. SUPER l6MM: While 35mm has superior grain
quality, there are other considerations in choosing a format.
• Generally, -when you shoot 35mm, you only make work prints
of a select few takes. With l6mm, you will print all your dailies.
What is best for your project?
• Super l6mm provides more image on the negative and so makes
for a better quality 35mm blow-up, but Super l6mm is not an easy
format to find post-production facilities for. You can make l6mm
prints from Super 16, if you need to show your film before the blow-up.
Make inquiries before you commit.
AGREE WITH YOUR PRODUCER, actors, and crew as to
what film you 'are making: what the tone is and the goals of the
film artistically and commercially. Discuss your interpretation
of the script with your collaborators. The same script can be treated
comically, darkly, realistically or stylistically, and so on. If
you agree at the outset, you will meet less resistance on the set
and in the editing room. Yon will save time, money, and heartache
down the line.
REHEARSAL: Rehearse and block your actors in the
location as far in advance as budget allows. And similarly, rehearse
the crew. The more you are prepared before you roll the film, the
less film you will roll.
INFORM EVERYONE OF WHAT'S GOING ON: A tight, well-informed
crew will be able to set up sequences in advance and keep everything
running smoothly, allowing you creative flexibility.
SHOOT FOR THE EDIT: Save' money and time and film
by planning your shots and anticipating the editing. You will make
a stronger film if you do not rely on covering each scene from a
master shot, medium shots and closeups. While you don't want to
paint yourself into a corner, you will be challenged to articulate
the ideas in the script by designing sequences on paper and shooting
only what you need. This will make for a strong film artistically;
you will save film as well. Shoot what you need, not anything and
everything. Always think of the editing: do I have my scene yet?
Work with your editor while you are in production.
KEEP YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT: Most committed filmmakers
feel that making movies is worth tremendous sacrifices. But only
since the advent of the big-budget motion picture has an artform
been able to blow up whole forests, ^IM ^ re en entire fields, and
smash so many cars. Even on a low-budget scale, the excesses can
be remarkable. Ask yourself what you're willing to sacrifice for
your film. Is there another way to convey your point?
IS THAT BIGGER BUDGET AN END IN ITSELF? Why do
directors feel like next film must cost more than the last? Hollywood
has established that bigger budget means better production values.
There is a hunger to expand the budget as a mark of progress. But
many directors with one hit are thrust into studio-backed productions
that are beyond their experience, and-their vision is lost to union
crews, star vehicles, and studio endings. Be aware of the balance
between budget and director's control.
RELEASE DATES: Remember that it can take years
to get a project off the ground, and even with financing, there
is a long period before your film is released. Make sure the project
you are pitching today is going to have enough resonance for you
to talk about three years from now. That can be the release schedule
for an independent film.