What a Director Does & Good Characteristics for a Movie Director

Leslie Lello
A free video tutorial from Leslie Lello
Producer/Director - Photographer - Videographer
4.4 instructor rating • 2 courses • 3,518 students

Lecture description

This video talks about what a director does vs what a producer does, and then goes into describing the innate characteristics that makes a good movie director.

Learn more from the full course

Movie Directing Made Simple: How To Direct Movies

Learn how to be a movie director and how to work with a actors and a production crew in a professional manner!

06:07:25 of on-demand video • Updated May 2018

  • Understand the position of director on a movie set, why it is important and what the job entails
  • Learn to create shotlists and shot maps for scenes you are directing and why they are important
  • Guide actors and crew through a movie production that is cohesive and has all of its elements working together and making sense
  • Learn how to be the type of director that producers (the people that hire you) love to bring on to a project
English [Auto] In this video we're going to talk about what a director does specifically on set and build upon what we just learned about framing your idea of what it is to be a director. I'm just kind of continuing on but getting more specific. And one of the things I mentioned was a director is a manager. So what I would like to emphasize with that is the are the two managers on set are usually the director and the producer and then there's other managers that manage their own department so your cinematographer manages the camera department and so on. But I these are the two things I want to make a distinguishing idea about because people go oh what is a projector. Scuse me what does a producer do versus what it is a director do. So the director is mostly in charge of the story and makes choices about forming a cohesive story for this movie. That means visually that means audio audio audio was like making choices about sound and music and everything and you have all these experts acting you have all these experts in these idealy in these different categories and they're helping you. But your job as the director is to bring it all together as a story that makes sense and really is powerful in that story. The producer deals with logistics so there is an artistic element to it because you could say oh we have to dance halls we have to choose from do we want dance hall a which has this lighting these color walls bubble loud you always can change as well with the right crew. Or you know as a side note. But then we have you know dance hall number two which has these kind of characteristics and you make choices as a producer based on what your director is looking for. And also there is some gut instinct but usually its also based on a number of other factors so lets move on to decision making. The main thing for directors to to think about is does this fit in with my story what I'm trying to say with the intention of the characters with you know what we're doing later on in the movie or what we already shot as the end of the movie and does this fit in and build a foundation toward what we're headed toward at the end of the movie then decisions about logistics are always based on money time and quality for the producer and a lot of time with directing it's more of a nuance thing where it's a gut instinct or an aesthetic choice. And you know I have a producing class and I can speak much more. This course is not going to be as it's going to sound more nuanced in everything because a director really deals with a lot of nuance and a lot of artistic choices. Not to say that a producer isn't making artistic choices but a lot of the time it has to do with money time or quality. Do you have enough time to get to that location. Do we have enough money to buy dancehall a versus dancehall B and what are we going to shoot on a red camera or are we going to shoot on an iPhone thats all has to do with budget and quality and what we're trying to get into this festival and they only you know take four movies that kind of thing. So and then the director might say Oh well I want to shoot in for AK because of the artistic elements or I want to shoot on film because it will give me this feel or I want my digital film to have a film look and I want to shoot on this type of camera because this has a certain feel to it versus you know the red camera looks a little bit different than the Black Magic camera and so on. So thats certain things that the director will choose for artistic reasons as opposed to the producer which will choose for logistical monetary or time reasons or quality reasons. So thats just a little bit about that. The next slide is more about the qualities of a good director which I've found not just as a director being like oh my god I have I think this way but also as being on set as a director I'm sorry as a crewmember and as an actress so we'll just run through those very fast. The director needs to have good balance and what I mean by balance is that sometimes you'll bump up against the producer or the produce will say we have this much money you can put allocate most of those funds toward such and such a or a or b do you want to get the expensive dance hall and don't spend as much on say you know lighting that scene or or getting production design for that scene or do you want to have just a basic room which doesn't cost much and then world production design it up and do a really good job there. And those are the choices that a director has to go through. The producer helps with that because it can be a limiting thing a budget but it also is about balancing what the most important thing is and how to go far just with that budget in an artistic way and a good director will be able to do that. Be able to stay in budget and do it in a way that looks you know ideally like you spent a ton of money on it but even then can balance it so that you get what you need for the story on or under budget and time. Time is a balance thing to do you want to spend 40 minutes you know shooting one little you know up shot or do you or do you want to spend you know or setting up a three hour lighting shot. Thats not that important but would add nice new nuance or do we want to get the shots we need to tell the story about so common sense. I don't know if I list that but it's also a good thing there so decision making is also a huge part of directing because you're going to be always like people are going to run up to you and be like hey should I choose this outfit or this outfit for the main actress today. Choose that outfit. OK. Hey should we use this fabric or this fabric. When dressing the scene use this fabric. Hey you know so people I mean most experts that you're working with will not have to ask all these questions but it is it'll just come up and you'll be answering a lot of questions and that's part of a huge part of being a director both in preproduction production and postproduction. So again I'm going to go into the artistic vision versus the practical I think I covered this when I was talking about the dance halls versus dressing the dance halls or dressing a basic room to look like a dance hall. How can you x How can you have the most lush and lavish and expensive looking artistic vision and the most accurate artistic vision yet still stay in budget under budget. Even better you'll thrill your producer and but on budget is ideal. And that's that makes a good director because producers want to work with people who can stay on time and on budget. And if you're self-funding if you're self-producing your stuff to direct. That's also really key because you don't want to overspend if you have 500 bucks to make a movie and you spend 500 bucks your first day and you're a second day of shooting then you know you're spending more money that you didn't budget for. So obviously a storyteller we already got into that subtextual awareness. And this is really important here because as you're reading a script you should not just look at what's being said but there's always an underlying thing and if you're not familiar with acting a lot of acting talks about well what's my motivation what's my intention. I'm sure you've heard that as a joke around actors. What's my motivation. So a lot of that is what's the subtext here. And I'm going to be providing a script that you know is a pretty simple script but I want you to read it as you know read it from the point of view of just you know reading it through. Everything's true. But then try and add in some subtext you know and understand well this could mean this or this could mean this. It's That's life life. You have all these things happen to you. And we as humans process it make decisions about what things mean and sometimes they're accurate and sometimes they're not. And as a director you're going to be reading a script and saying I think the subtext here is this and your actors do that too. And your crew will do that too. But mostly that you're actors because they're being in the roles they're going to be adding in their own subtext. They're going to be saying well she's saying you know I love you. But does she really mean you know you're hurting me. That's the subtext for you know is it contrasted is she being completely forthright in this moment. We'll get further into the acting because if you're come from a technical point of view there is a nuance to it that takes sometimes a bit of time to understand sometimes not. But you know sometimes it does if you're used to dealing with 35 millimeter lens 50 millimeter lines like then you have to go into well that doesn't feel like she really was saying that in a way that she hated him you know. It gets into some touchy feely stuff. So subtextual awareness. I just want you to have that awareness when you're reading scripts that there's an underlying message in a lot of what people say and do. So behavior expert and this is again going into subtext so acting experience helps with this because actors observe people so that they can make great choices as the characters that they choose and that all informs them and in their own artistic decisions. And your job as director is to hone that so that it aligns with how you see the actor how you see the role and how you they fit into your overall movie. So you need to be a clear communicator so when you're talking to your crew and actors and even people you're dealing outside of that like location people hey you know like can we can we set up this this job here or is it going to be in the way of of people coming and going. You have to be able to. And that's more of a producer thing but you have to be able to a clear communicator a mediator a negotiator too because a lot of the time you're in while you're negotiating with your producer you're negotiating with your crew about how to do things. Oh my cinematographer wants to light it this way and I think it should be this way. Why don't we do it this way. There's a lot of negotiation and compromise on sets and this is an important thing to be able to do and mediator as well because sometimes departments will have conflicting ideas about things and you have to be able to balance that as well but do it in a way that's not dictatorial and because nobody on set wants to feel like oppressed by the director it happens but a lot of the time it's better too. I've been on sets like that a lot of the time it's better if you can if two departments are having trouble communicating in a way that will come to proper resolution. You and the producers step in and can can offer can have like a meeting and see if there can be an IRA that is agreeable to everyone. So then you have to be self-disciplined and stay on schedule. And that has to do with being a decision maker mediator. All of this stuff goes into making fast quality decisions. Again that comes with time. But you have to be able to say OK I'm cutting these two shots so that I can get this. We have to stay on schedule. Your producer will love you of that too. I have to have good judgment when to push when to let go. I think I've covered that a bit and you have to be a good collaborator. Again this is a crew. If I have shot movies on my own I have done animated movies where I did everything and I've done documentary where I've done everything and it's ok. I do well actually with that. But I do well with the crew as well. And but when you are with the crew and when you're with actors you are collaborating on everything and you just has to go with communication and everything I've said earlier. Really. And you have to be organized. That's not always true but it's a good idea to be organized because that will help you move faster and that you'll feel less stress some people are really work well under lack of organization. But I can't think as I'm sitting here too many directors I worked with didn't have some method of Oregon organizing themselves because if you have 100 shots or scenes to shoot in a movie you have to know what you're doing and even if you have assistants telling you all this you have to really have your head wrapped around this movie so tightly that you have a clarity about it an organization will help that. So I think that was the last one. So this is just to give you a sense of a good director and the things that I've seen and worked under and been that has added to the quality of the production and the experience of the people on set. So we're going to move on to the next video now. And let's go.