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What do you expect from a director?


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#1 robin pront

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 08:28 AM

For those experienced enough, what do you expect from a director when he is discussing the look of his film. Could somebody give some practical examples of what directors have said to you which made you understand what look he was going for? I'm a student-director myself and i might encounter difficulties expressing my self the right way, even if i know how i want my film to look like.
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#2 ryan_bennett

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 09:56 AM

Use drawings, photos (you've taken or others have) and examples from your favorite movies. That's the easiest way. Use those and think about what you like about them and what you want from those.
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#3 Stuart McCammon

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 01:17 PM

Expect him to tell you something based on an inside joke only he and his best friend the costume designer understands, then watch as they both shift into open derision when you don't get it.

Solution? Nod furiously.
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#4 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 26 July 2007 - 09:28 PM

I like it when the director has a clear idea about what they want to say with the film in terms of psycho-emotional impact, ie mindfu** potential. Then there is an exhange of questions and impressions about different things sometimes quite removed from the film itself. It is not like remodelling a house and saying I want the lounge to be in a rustic style and the kitchen Neo-geo. The essential thing is that we are on the same page in terms of likes and dislikes.
I love it when the references are really far removed from what we're doing. Like if a scene takes place in a small apartment and the director wants a "final chariot scene in Ben-Hur" feeling to it.
I generally hate it if things immediately start sounding really technical. Technique is the means to an end and that's the core essence of what we are setting out to do. Really bad sign I think when the director starts talking about lenses or something.
I get very nervous when I hear the word "poetic" crop up. Nine out of ten times that word means the director is just waffling and/or trying to pull the wool over my eyes.
I expect the director to tell me about the look of their film in a nice restaurant that they pay for.
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#5 Rick Sharf

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Posted 27 July 2007 - 09:41 AM

i really appreciate it when the director is willing to sit down and go through a look book (especially if they are at all light knowledgeable) with me so we can both get the same idea of composition and lighting scheme. It can only help if you both know exactly what is going on at any given moment. Then we can both take care of our own stuff and know that each other is happy.
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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 04:19 AM

I like it when the director has a clear idea about what they want to say with the film in terms of psycho-emotional impact, ie mindfu** potential. Then there is an exhange of questions and impressions about different things sometimes quite removed from the film itself. It is not like remodelling a house and saying I want the lounge to be in a rustic style and the kitchen Neo-geo. The essential thing is that we are on the same page in terms of likes and dislikes.
I love it when the references are really far removed from what we're doing. Like if a scene takes place in a small apartment and the director wants a "final chariot scene in Ben-Hur" feeling to it.
I generally hate it if things immediately start sounding really technical. Technique is the means to an end and that's the core essence of what we are setting out to do. Really bad sign I think when the director starts talking about lenses or something.
I get very nervous when I hear the word "poetic" crop up. Nine out of ten times that word means the director is just waffling and/or trying to pull the wool over my eyes.
I expect the director to tell me about the look of their film in a nice restaurant that they pay for.


Why shouldn't a director talk about the lenses he's wants to use in the set-up if he knows something about lenses? Kubrick nearly fired his DoP on I believe it was "The Killing" because he had told the guy the set-up and lens combination he wanted and this "old pro" tried to second guess him by using a different lens and set-up that would have made it a completely different shot and NOT what Kubrick had en-visioned. When Kubrick questioned him on it, the old pro told him it wouldn't make any difference. Kubrick, upset that this guy was treating him like an idiot who knew nothing about the camera, quietly told this old pro to re-set the camera as he had instructed or get off his set. The old pro put the camera were he was told to put it, changed the lens and never crossed Stanley again during the shoot. I, personally always will give my opinion as to what lens I want used because it can radically effect framing and in turn radically effect the feel of the scene on an emotional level. it can also effect the DOF, a longer lens set further back will tend to flatten out the scene even though it has the same framing, Altman used this technique in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, I think, and talked about it in an interview and the way it emotionally effected portions of the film. I do have to agree with you on another point though, I don't know how you light "poetic" unless he really mean romantic, dream-like or nostalgic THAT'S lighting, poetic is dialog B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 28 July 2007 - 04:24 AM.

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#7 Kevin Riley

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 05:20 AM

i really appreciate it when the director is willing to sit down and go through a look book (especially if they are at all light knowledgeable) with me so we can both get the same idea of composition and lighting scheme. It can only help if you both know exactly what is going on at any given moment. Then we can both take care of our own stuff and know that each other is happy.


It's all in the prep - If the Director can appreciate that the time spent together with the DOP in prep will result in more shooting time on the set then I'm half way done. I do not care if you have never worked as a team ever before. It's really important that in front of the shooting crew you have come to a point that you can communicate in a form of shorthand. You already know he hates short looking room and he knows that scene 14 is the one you want to spend your most time lighting.
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#8 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 28 July 2007 - 07:24 AM

I did not mean to imply that a director should never talk about focal lengths or lenses. What I meant to say was that the essence of the film is far more important.
Unfortunately I have never worked with a director that I felt was anywhere near as together in every possible sense of the word as Kubrick. I think it is safe to assume that Kubrick knew what he wanted to say with his films before he started talking about lenses. He knew why he wanted that focal length and not just in terms of what it would look like but the effect it would have on "the big picture". I can honestly say that the majority of so-called directors do not know why they want to move the camera in a given situation other than "it looks good" or "so and so did it in X film".
What is dream-like lighting? My dreams happen in all kinds of settings. Personally I don't have white pro-misty dreams.
What is nostalgic lighting? Does nostalgic mean hard lighting? Sepia filters and/or vignettes on the lens?
What is romantic lighting? Candles? Lowlight? I've lived some romantic scenes on picnics in broad daylight.
Frankly I believe these codes are for Hallmark greeting cards and not for truly expressive cinema.
That is not to say that there is no place for white Pro-Mists, sepia filters or both.
It's just that I don't understand people who put salt on their food without tasting it first.
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#9 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 01:22 AM

I would say "dream-like" would be like a dream or nightmare, vivid colors highened reality bright lights within darkness IE Apocalypse Now.

Nostalgic lighting would be lighting from the days of yore, lighting reminicent of old school Hollywood studio lighting, Glamour lighting if you will IE Merchant / Ivory productions

Romantic lighting lighting evoking a romantic quality Barry Lyndon, Amudaus.

But I still don't have an answer for "poetic" lighting unless we're taking Dead Poets Society. :rolleyes:

Oh and I have nothing against Sepia (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), Candles or Lowlight (Barry Lyndon), or white pro-mists (Girl With a Pearl Earring.) I have NO problem shooting the cliche as long as it works, SOMETIMES the cliche is the best way to make an impact on your audience and I never let my ego or some self centered need to prove I have to do something different for the mere sake of doing something different out weigh what's the best for the production. 'coarse that's not to say you do but dismissing any technique out of hand is a dangerous thing to do in my opinion, you know, take it for what it's worth. B)
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#10 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 06:40 AM

I don't think the tools ie the lights and/or filters are the clich├ęs. I often think that there are many "codes" that are easy to fall into. I do not have any problems with sepia, white promist (I don't use them much) or candles either. I do not dismiss any technique like I don't dismiss any spice. It is a question of how they are used. Before I tried Indonesian food, peanut sauce in a chicken dish didn't occur to me-then I had the opportunity to try it and my range of taste experiences and my ideas about the use of peanuts grew.
Dreams can take all forms. In fact in dreams, everything seems to be logical even though it may be absurd.
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#11 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 30 July 2007 - 12:19 AM

Of coarse, there is no set definition for any of these. I am speaking in the most general of terms. As you said it's all in how the tools, technique and execution is incorporated into the finished film, Speilberg once was talking about how the cut or inclusion of a single frame can alter the entire impact of a sequence so it's all in the craftsmanship and just as I have no problem using the cliche, I also have no reluctance to embrace innovation as long as it works. I think it comes down to what works best for a given moment in any production and the whole trick is to recognize which actually is the best way to handle that moment within the overall context of the piece, which I guess is what separates great directors from merely competent ones. B)
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#12 Chris Keth

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Posted 31 July 2007 - 01:59 AM

I like it when a director takes the time and the care to be able to communicate visual ideas to me. In such a visual field, it's a bit of a shame when someone can't explain a look they want.

On the other hand, I understand that it is difficult for many people to communicate something so visual in words. I will often really go out of my way to use examples from movies, photos, drawings and paintings to flesh out a look. It's almost like an optomitrist's test where they ask "which is better, A or B." I can ask, does this look appeal to you or does this one? OK so we're going low key, how about these two? OK, so you like toplight. So tell me, how do you like this still from the Godfather?

The worst experience in this realm I had was that I had a director tell me "well, just make it look good." A poor chocie on my part, I did it my way and he then suddenly cares and (of course) doesn't like the way I did it. That was annoying and a fairly awful experience for both of us. I should have insisted that he have a say from the beginning. We both would have been more prepared and happier and it would have been a better film.

I suppose when everything's boiled down I just want a director that really cares about the visuals. I want my expertise to be able to help the director achieve something and if they don't care enough to have a goal, I don't really want to work with that director.
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#13 Glenn Hanns

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 04:20 AM

I love it when a director talks about the emotional key moments in the film and how it should "feel". When the relationships and power plays of the work are revealed it potentially opens the chance for me to hook into a visual representation that works dramatically, from this the technical aspects and tools in my repertoire can be utilized.
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#14 Ralph Tabith

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 06:30 AM

Expect him to tell you something based on an inside joke only he and his best friend the costume designer understands, then watch as they both shift into open derision when you don't get it.

Solution? Nod furiously.


This made me laugh!, funny...:)
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