It may be that you have written a script that you want to take into production of it might be that you are ready to go out and find someone to work with. Either way, you’re ready to Direct! Get the megaphone out, it’s time to start barking orders, right? Well, not quite. If you’re serious about directing a short film, directing a feature or you’re an all round filmmaker, you’ll learn everything you need to know in this course.
There is a lot a director needs to know about, here's a taster of what Adrian will be covering:
As you can see, it's not just about telling an actor where to stand. If you want to truly stand out in this profession, you have to be able to handle everything in this list...and more. Luckily, Adrian is here to help you and share his knowledge and experience.
You don’t need any prior knowledge of directing to take this course. This course contains 15 video lessons presented by Adrian Mead, an accomplished writer and director who has worked with major networks in both the UK and US.
The first thing a director needs is a script. It may be that you have written one yourself but it may be that you need to go out and find someone to work with. In this lesson Adrian talks about how to find the right project for you by talking you through the key factors in choosing a script and also what to avoid.
An important part of a director's role is first being hired by a producer. Adrian talks about how to manage your first meetings with writers and producers and how best to get your vision for the project over in a constructive and positive way with the use of open questions to keep things less critical.
Adrian also talks about the importance of a contract even if its a low or no budget film. this can help make sure everyone knows what is expected of everyone and can help avoid fall outs and confusion later on in the project.
Do you believe you’re actually making the same film and have the same vision as the writer? Don’t mix genres up in a short film as you simply won’t have the time to do this - keep it simple and to a single genre that matches the writers intentions. To see the script as a visual image in your head, we use action points. Adrian explains the story of Cinderella in action points as a demonstration of how this is done. The lesson also covers the elements of directing a short film, such as genre of a script, bringing characters to life without limiting yourself to just using dialogue, and planning rewrites to a script. A knowledge of scripts and how scripts are written is a huge help when working with a writer, check out our Screenwriting Masterclass to find out more.
So you know the story and the action points (beats) of the film you are going to be directing but you have questions, concerns, comments and/or critiques. It's time to start communicating with your writer to make sure you are both on the same page.
There are always costs involved with film projects and when you’re directing a short film, one challenge is to bring a story to life within a certain budget. Deciding which parts are non-negotiable and will affect the story and which areas can be compromised on is really important and Adrian talks through some examples of this and some typical remedies.
Funding for a film project might be needed depending on the circumstances of the film, in the UK there are various public funding bodies:
Of course, there’s always the favour bank as Adrian explains.
Where you choose to shoot your film can have a huge impact on the final product but there are some important factors to take into account first. Keeping locations down to a minimum and being clever about how you utilise spaces can keep costs down and ensure that full focus is on the film and not just moving around. This lesson covers how locations can tell you more about your characters, help with the genre of a film or add visual elements of a story line. There are also practical elements to consider with locations too when directing a short film or a feature. Is there building work going to happen soon that will ruin the sound of your film? Is the area safe for use and will it keep the potential large amount of crew in safe hands? Adrian covers this and more considerations for your choice of location.
As film projects will generally use different departments marking the script up to reference for these different departments will make things run much more smoothly. For example, a props department will go through the script and mark off whenever a prop is used or if there’s a scene that requires visual effects you will need to mark up where these visual effects will go. This provides you with a list of practical elements and may mean some rewrites are needed to resolve any issues.
Tramlining helps you decide on the shots that you can use when filming the different areas of your script and ensures that all the action is covered without any gaps when it comes to editing. Adrian goes through sections of a real script as an example.
As touched upon in Lesson 5, we take a closer look at the script and how this will need marking up for the different departments involved in the filming process. This allows you to decide if certain aspects are going to work for the film and also gives the chance to prepare everything for when filming begins.
Another important element to consider when directing a short film is casting & working with actors. Where do you plan on finding your actors? Have you considered a female actor for a part written for a male actor, or vice versa? Adrian talks about the ideal ways to find actors along with tips for casting sessions and working with children.
It’s time to take your written words and portray them visually, Adrian covers creating a shot list and there’s also an explanation of the different camera shots with their typical uses. Time management when filming is really important too and it’s a great idea when writing your shot list to consider where each shot will be taken and sometimes to change or drop certain shots that may have a negative impact on any time constraints.
While you might not have time to storyboard an entire film, certainly for action scenes and defining scenes this is a great idea. When directing a short film try to storyboard the entire film as this will massively help you visualise your film prior to filming and editing and ensures the correct shots are made which will make your editing process loads easier. Quality of your drawings doesn’t matter as long as you can figure out the shots you’re using and how they’re going to transition from one to the other. The timing of the script can be really important and if you’ve used a professional piece of screenwriting software each page is roughly equal to 1 minute of screen time. This should also help you determine the pace of the film and whether or not it’s too fast or slow.
When directing a short film, TV or feature, scheduling is a very big deal to get right. Usually undertaken by the director, scheduling the shoot may fall as a role for the director depending on the project. You may wish to film on the weekend due to time constraints or perhaps film in one bulk block over a few days. There are many factors that may influence this so use Adrian’s tips to work out what will work best for your film.
Shooting through the night can take a lot longer than a daytime shoot and this has many repercussions as explained by Adrian. If shooting in the daytime is possible you may wish to rethink your original idea and explore the possibility of switching from a night shoot to a day shoot.
Make sure to read up on the rules (and potentially seek legal advice) regarding children and young teenagers when filming with them on a set. Consider the hour restrictions and make sure to schedule shorter hours where possible when youngsters are involved.
Adrian talks about the above points in more detail and also talks about scheduling your shooting around actors and visual effects.
Directing a short film will give you invaluable experience to take into feature films or TV. As with your actors, you’ll need your crew to be as equally experienced and knowledgeable. As a director you want to surround yourself with experience which we talk about in more depth in this lesson. The essential crew roles are talked about in detail in this lesson and Adrian shares some great tips from his own experiences.
Throughout the entire shoot you will either be working closely with the script supervisor or, you will be the script supervisor. Either way, you will need to know why they are such an important part of any production.
It's sounds obvious, but what does being prepared actually mean? Adrian explains what you need to do to actually be prepared for directing a film. Hint: It's not just stocking up on pot noodles...
We know, not the most interesting topic in the world but it is an important topic to cover. You're doing this because you love making movies so you'll want to do it the right way from the start.
It's important to remain ethical, you have to be able to stand by your decisions and only ask people to do what you would be prepared to do yourself. Adrian talks about what other moral implications you need consider and how to handle them.
Yes, this is your job too. You don;t need to build the props or make sure there's enough fake blood, but you do need to know what your actors will be working with.
If you turn up at midday and go home at 2pm, so will your cast and crew. If you turn up and 4am and go home and 2pm, so will your crew. You need to find the right balance and lead by example.
We have a whole course on this one topic because it's a big topic in itself, but here, Adrian gives a great overview of what you need to be thinking about whilst you are talking to your actors.
Remember when we talked about setting the pace? Well, giving your actors a two hour lecture on why they aren;t doing what you want is a terrible idea. Be concise, be helpful and keep it simple.
As the Directer, your work goes on much longer than anyone else. Adrian talks about what you'll be doing when the rest of the crew are all tucked up in bed.
Inevitably you may want to re shoot some scenes that don't quite work. When do you do that? How do you do that?
It's a tough decision to get the right editor. Or, are you editing it yourself? This is what Adrian has to say on the matter.
You will have an idea of the kind of music, the kind of emotion, the kind of theme you will want to get from your film and you probably have an idea of what music will help you achieve this in the edit.
Get this edit done! Just get it done, now, go, do it!
Feedback can be incredibly valuable part of this whole process, there's many ways to deal with feedback too. How does Adrian use it for good?
It's all starting to come together! You absolutely have to have good audio, so let's take a look at how this is achieved.
You might now know how to create all of the VFX that you want in your film, but you should know how to talk to the people that can create the magic for you.
This is the part of the entire process where you can feel it all coming together exactly how you imagined. What do you need to consider before rushing in?
So that's it, you're done! Or are you?
GetFilming is an online film school and community, we bring together the very best experts currently working in the film, TV and online video industries with our community of aspiring filmmakers.
We work with professionals such as Adrian Mead, Rob Bessette, Evan Abrams and Dave Miller. Our tutors have worked with everyone from Sky, BBC, HBO, AMC, ITV to clients ranging from Subway and Adidas to Gibson and everything in between.