Tribute to the cinema director        

Even though they may not appear in front of the camera, the director is one of the most important people on a film set. They do more than shout “action” and “cut” behind the scenes—they’re the person who determines the creative vision and makes all of the film’s biggest decisions. Learn more about what a director does during every step of the production process and get tips on how to break into the business if you’re an aspiring director. A director is a person who determines the creative vision of a feature film, television show, play, short film, or other production. They have complete artistic control of a project. In addition to having a strong grasp of technical knowledge taught in directing classes, they must also have a personal or emotional connection to the material.

A director’s job description involves participation in nearly every phase of a project. Because their vision largely impacts the final product, directors work closely with department heads and technicians to bring it to fruition. The duties of a film director are many, but don’t worry: We’ll lay it all out here. So, what does a director do? Let’s break it down. Now that we’ve outlined a basic film director job description, let’s hear from an iconic filmmaker on how he implements his vision. In an episode of StudioBinder’s Director’s Chair series, which reveals influential auteurs’ tricks of the trade, Quentin Tarantino discusses his particular approach as a film director.

Although the film director is involved in all stages of filmmaking, sometimes their role in each of those stages can be misconstrued. The development stage, for instance, is often confused with the pre-production stage. Typically, development is taken care of by the writers and producers, and directors enter the picture in pre-production. This isn’t always true (especially when the director also happens to have written the script). The director usually makes comments, tweaks, or changes to the script during development. Still, it’s really in pre-production where the film director plays a major role.

A director’s effectiveness in implementing their vision during pre-production boils down to budgeting and script breakdowns as much as it does artistic intent.  You can see how this plays out in our Making It series, which follows filmmaker SC Lannom throughout pre-production as he makes the proof of concept for his TV series, Mental Mistakes. In the first episode, Lannom identifies every essential production element in his script. Whether they’ve written the screenplay or not, the director will want to wade through the entire draft during pre-production to gauge how much of it will need rewrites or revisions.

Storyboards and shot lists help to plot out your vision beat by beat. To communicate the desired look and feel to the cinematographer and production designer, the director will probably want to share their storyboards. That way, the department heads can make changes or leave comments in real time. Take this storyboard from Mental Mistakes, for example, which we’ve uploaded to StudioBinder’s storyboarding software. Each panel includes information on camera shot framing, camera angles, and camera movement that the cinematographer can use to plan shots well in advance.

To cast actors that best suit the characters in the script, the director and producer will hone in on some “selects” — the standouts among those who answer their initial casting call.  From there, auditions can begin. Follow Mental Mistakes‘ casting process to learn the key ingredients of a successful audition. Eventually, some auditioning actors will nail their readings of the sides provided to them. Once the director gives the final say on who is best for each role, casting is complete. In the final stretch of pre-production, the director and producer will need to make sure that the production is insured, work with the cinematographer to procure filming equipment, and work with the 1st AD to create a shooting schedule.

Film directors are in charge of making sure that every component of a movie runs smoothly — they have a say in how the scenes unfold, what props are going to be used, how the characters should look, and who should play specific parts. A film director controls a film’s artistic and dramatic aspects, and visualizes the script while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of that vision. The producer initiates, coordinates, supervises, and controls matters such as raising funding, hiring key personnel, and arranging for distributors.

In addition to having control over nearly every aspect of the movie, film directors also have a large role in the smaller technical aspects of the film. They read over the script to make sure it makes sense, decide where the actors are going to stand, and how they will move. Directors also help actors to better understand the characters they are playing by explaining the motivation behind a particular action, or painting a clearer picture of the character’s back-story. Once the editing team gets to work, the film director has the final say as to how the shots look and how they should be blended together. The director can also decide if the crew needs to do another take of a particular scene or scenes and when one scene should fade into the next.

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