View Full Version : The Toughest Thing about Directing for me

07-18-2013, 01:39 PM
It seems like by far the hardest thing for me being a director, is not actually being on set and figuring out what to do. It's beforehand when I'm trying to get mentally prepared of how I'm going to direct the actors, how i'm going to film for the edit, etc. Sometimes I over-think things and when I start thinking too much it clouds my mind and takes me away from the authenticity of the project.

I'm the type of person that has to meticulously write down notes CONSTANTLY. I'm not kidding, sometimes I wake up at 4 in the morning and have to write down something or I can't go to sleep, which makes me end up with like 10 pages of notes just for that one night. When I say I over-prepare, that is an understatement. Plus my brain feels like it has a billion things all going on at the same time and makes me feel overwhelmed every now and then. The anxiousness of wanting to film the project does not help either.

How do you guys mentally prepare before directing a film? I feel like I have to completely take my mind of film-making for a good half-day before I can see clearly again lol.

07-18-2013, 01:58 PM
I like to take my actors out to lunch together just before shooting, just to hang out and talk about things non production related.
It seems to help everyone show up on set feeling good about the project, which makes it easier for me to not stress out.

(sometimes i'll bring key crew people along if i can afford it, like the AD and DP)

Nick Soares
07-18-2013, 02:03 PM
Directing/acting is nearly a 100% mental game. This is why budgets are soooo HUGE, its not only for paying high profile talent but its also to have the right team that can take care of tasks that need to be done so the director can ONLY focus on his shots and talent. If Steven Speilberg was a (director/production assistant) instead of just a director then we would not have had the Jurassic Park that we have today!

You are about to enter the world of low budget filmmaking, which is harder to accomplish then studio level films. You are going to be helping with locations, maybe setting up a camera, getting ready for the next shot when a director should only be focused on the directing. BUT you do not have millions, so you are going to have to help out where you can, do not get an ego and just sit there, most likely people will need your help, but do your best to try and focus on the story/shots/talent.

L A Morgan
07-18-2013, 05:33 PM
If your problem is in ovethinking the direction, maybe you could look over your notes and try to simplify what you're going for. Do you sit down with your people for a read? Some of them might have some good suggestions. I'm obsessive about my work, too, and I know how you feel.

Vance Baryn
07-19-2013, 02:50 AM
Here are some things that might help:

1. Trust yourself.
There are a finite number of things to plan before you show up on a set. Plan them and consider them planned. It doesn't do any good to keep thinking and rethinking things you have already thought through. Mentally flip the switch in your head that says "I am finished planning that part." Actually picture a switch in your head and yourself flipping it if that helps. Trust that you did it right the first time.

2. Accept that everything is not under your control.
Especially on low budget shoots, once we show up on set, a lot is bound to change from what we had planned out. These are things that can only be handled on the spot. You can't plan for every contingency. The ability to think on your feet is a valuable skill in the low budget film making world. Trying to think of every possible thing that could happen and how you would handle it is a waste of time. Inevitably something else will happen that you haven't thought of. Again it comes down to trusting yourself. Just trust that when the problem arises, you'll be able to make the right call.

07-19-2013, 02:52 AM
Well I mean I've been used to making stuff for a while now, maybe it's just because that I'm producing it and directing at the same time. I'm kind of used to the pressure though, that doesn't bother me. It's just clearing my head that's the toughest part.

07-19-2013, 04:45 AM
You have to learn to let go. You cannot plan for every contingency. In a scene and actor may ad lib and the lines and delivery much smoother than on paper. Or you'll get inspired and completely set up a different shot than the one you have on storyboard. Until you learn to "let go" you can't relax.

07-20-2013, 03:10 PM
MrJay, how is your film going?

I found directing to be hard because right when I feel like I had my next shot I had to help move a light and starting to think about lighting. I found that if I had the crew to take care of the light then I would most likely be able to direct better.

How many are on your crew? I only had 3 people not including talent.

07-21-2013, 05:49 AM
MrJay, how is your film going?

I found directing to be hard because right when I feel like I had my next shot I had to help move a light and starting to think about lighting. I found that if I had the crew to take care of the light then I would most likely be able to direct better.

How many are on your crew? I only had 3 people not including talent.

It's going good! I think once I got past all the producing aspects of it now, it's going to get easier. Not so much pressure anymore to get everyone's schedules lined up and everything. Now I can just focus on the movie itself.

I'm going to have about 7-8 people on the crew on set at a time, but I have like 20 people on file for crew.

07-21-2013, 11:38 AM
I have learned through trail and error, that having good actors that can understand their characters to begin with really helps. I'm currently still working on "Don't look in the Closet" which is going on a year now. The lead actor is someone l like personally, but the guy can't act for shit, and it's take 1, take 5, take 25, etc. Over and over again until he get's it right, which happens to coincide with my losing all pretense of any patients.

While other actors read the script and intuitively know who their characters are, and how they play the role, which makes my job a lot easier.

Pick good actors and it will go a lot better for you.

07-22-2013, 01:26 PM
I write eveything down also. Then I get to where we're shooting and find out nothing can be done the way I wanted.

This is just how I do it.

I Visualize in my mind the way I see the movie. As director you have to know what each character is thinking evey moment. If a character is being decitful, and they're trying to trick the other actors, they'll be doing things a little different than if they were honest. Know your script, every nuiance, every little thing that needs to be shown and make sure you get (at the absolute least) a wide, medium and CU of every actor in the scene. Then of course there's the Extreme CU's of anything important within the room and body movements. If someone puts out a cigarette at an important line, get a ECU of the person putting out the cigarette. If you don't use it, at least you have it. Coverage of EVERYTHING and more. If you have and don't use it, is better then somewhere down the line wishing you did have it.

Make a shooting list for every day (scenes/cotumes/props/equipment needed) and then have a contigency plan for each scene that might not get shot because of the weather, or you get to a location and for some reason can't shoot there. You can't waste a day because you weren't ready in case of a minor disaster.

Don't rely on your actors for anything but showing up and acting. If they have to bring costumes or props, e-mail them the night before and nicely remind them what you're shooting and what they need to bring. Because if you don't tell them, they won't remember. No matter how much it seems to be common sense.

Here's two of my favorite actors dumbass moments.

I went to an actresses apartment to choose costumes for the two leads. The lead actress looked very sweet and small town, but in real life was anything but. So, I asked her if she had any plain white bras. She brings out all these fancy black bras. I told her no, I wanted a nice plain white bra that was non descript. Her character was a naive small town girl who had no taste, and certainly wasn't sexy. So, the other actress says, I'm like that, and I don't have any plain white bras. All mine are... I then had to explain the White hat/Black hat meaning in westerns, to which they both just looked at me like I was a nut. Let's just say I am just a nut. I was still the director, and I specifically asked for a plain white bra. Lo and behold when we shot the scene she had a regular bra.

What this numbnut didn't have and it's hilarious, only because I'm old. I just couldn't believe my eyes. We shot a scene where the lead was practicing kickboxing and she sweated. The next scene we shot was her trying on a dress, and this idiot was wearing a fancy pair of bright blue underwear. Her back is turned to us, so the back of her underwear is in full view and the white tag is on the outside of the underwear. I seriously thought her underwear were on backwards. But, I couldn't ask her to turn them then inside out because of the sweating.I'm told fancy underwear now have the tag on the outside. I don't care, if fancy underwear has the tag on the outside, if that made it to screen. the majority of people would think she has her undies on inside out, which should never happen unless the character has a mental problem.

It's your job to have an answer for anything. Now, go have FUN!

L A Morgan
07-22-2013, 01:39 PM
Thanks for the good advice. You picked the winners, didn't you.

07-24-2013, 11:43 PM
THATS EXACTLY HOW I FEEL. Maybe its common for film directors. My family and friends always tell me how I over think EVERYTHING, while making a movie I get so cloudy I end up stressing out more than I need to.

Personally for me I simply take a deep breath and tell myself I am in control of my mind. And then I usually calm down and can focus. While in bed I tend to thing and worry about school, film production, etc. But I simply remind myself, theres nothing I can do about it now. The best thing I can do at the moment is to fall asleep. And this way I don't keep myself up till 4 in the morning thinking about my whole life and film making... While on set, try to prioritize. Don't worry about everything at once, try to tackle each obstacle one at a time.. Usually the actors are your number one priorate.. Have you AD(Assistant Director) worry about the other things... Hope I helped!