Following the Director’s Vision

The requirements and specifics of production are so dependent on the nature of the material, the budget of the movie, and the degree to which it is shooting on a stage or on practical locations, that it is virtually impossible to effectively generalize proper procedures and practices in this kind of limited format.

Production is the one part of the filmmaking process with which film commissioners are the most familiar, given the reality of the services commissions provide. Therefore, this segment contains certain key issues and strategies that keep productions focused, successful, on budget and on schedule — the basic goals of every production.

One thing above all has brought everyone together on a film production and that is the original screenplay that attracted everyone’s attention. The script has undoubtedly taken on new and bizarre shapes, been rethought and restructured, been touched by many hands and then reshaped again in the process of visualizing and acting it.

The common interpretation of the screenplay begins with the director and the articulated vision that led to the hiring of the key crew to implement the vision and the casting of the actors to perform it. This vision must remain prominent, clear to all involved, and evident in the dailies being shared with the crew keys, the producer, and at the discretion of the director, the cast members.

When the director is well prepared and comes to the set with a specific plan and order of shots and performances he wants to capture, the entire crew can feel it is in capable hands. Crews, like any group of individuals, respond to natural and instinctive leadership, and the producer sometimes must help the director see the importance of this role.

On other occasions, the director must be restrained, if possible, from overly dictatorial behavior. There is a difference between being the captain of the ship and being Captain Bligh, and no one in any job appreciates a bully. The list of abusive directors is a long one, and directors who are calm, easygoing and non-confrontational are few and far between. But there is a big difference, however, between an impassioned, energetic director and one who is abusive.

So nice or naughty, the director must be tolerated, and his vision implemented. It is in the producer’s best interest to mediate when absolutely necessary, but not to step into the occasional director’s leadership vacuum. The director must be encouraged to really lead the filmmaking effort, and to inspire the crew by having a game plan that can be implemented and achieved.