7 Helpful Tips for New Directors

New directors! Here are some cool tips from Christina Hodel, Mark Sarisky, Paolo Dy, Ben Wu, Deborah Moran, ACE, Peter Markham, and Greg Takoudes…
Pictured above: On the set in New York with TY BREEZZYY , for a music video with Gordon Cowie Films. www.gordoncowiefilms.com

 

7 Helpful Tips for New Directors

 

Tip #1

“From my research and own experiences I’ve found there is a different way to film dance compared to regular blocking. A moving camera will give the audience the feeling they too are dancing with the image on screen.”
~Christina Hodel

Tip #2

“Get the composer finished scenes to work with. Some composers can work with rough cuts, but the best results seem to come from compositions developed and orchestrated to ‘as close to’ final cuts. Remember that it is easy to change the time of a piece of audio, but that does not mean it will still have the same effect.”
~Mark Sarisky

Read more in our exclusive interview, “Mark Sarisky Shares Audio Tips for Student Film Directors.” ‘Music can heighten our emotional reaction to images and intensify our understanding of visuals in a completely symbiotic way.’…

Tip #3

“I think you really have to at one point step back and ask yourself, what is this film about, and related to that, what is the turning point of this thing? What is the emotional breaking point of your story, where the whole thing hinges on, and how do you effectively lead up to that, and execute it because you don’t really have that much time. To a large degree, it’s in the same thinking that goes into producing a commercial, let’s say. You have thirty seconds to tell your story, what is the one thing you want to say? Same thing with the short form. What’s the one emotion you want to elicit? And that thing has to be the top priority, and everything else must serve that one idea, one breaking point, or one pay off. In the long form, you know, you have your first act, second act, third act. You have that whole structure, and you have a lot of beats to play with, but in the short form you have precious few.”
~Paolo Dy

Read more lighting tips from Paolo Dy in his article, “Quick Change Lighting: Includes 9 Tips for the Time-Saving Technique.” ‘The chance to do a really good quick change does not come up often, but one can always look for little opportunities to make efficient lighting changes using the same philosophy.’…

Tip #4

“Establishing that connection with your subject is paramount in the making of subject-oriented documentaries. The other one is really being committed to your subject. You spend so much time devoted to the subject, putting in your blood, sweat and tears into it. It’s important that it is something you’ll be passionate about, and stay motivated when you hit the wall. And at some point, you’ll always hit the wall. Similarly, there will be times when you hate your film, and you feel like it’s not working at all. That’s when it’s really good to take a step back, get away from the film for a bit to clear your head. Sometimes we as filmmakers can get so close to our films – we can’t see past how hard it was to get a shot, or how much you like or dislike one of your subjects. It’s important to step back, take a breath, and try and look at it with new eyes. That’s also a great time to bring in others, people whose opinions you respect, to take a look and give you feedback. My classmates have saved me more than once with great insights on how my film was working, and would get me re-energized to hop back into the trenches and start fresh.”
~Ben Wu

Tip #5

“Trust your instincts and don’t over think. When you are touched by a performance or moved by a look an actor gives or you laugh out loud at something, don’t forget that initial reaction. Sometimes you can get bogged down with the technicalities of cutting a scene, but always try to come back to your first reactions. Don’t think about what you think an audience may want to see. You are the first audience. Trust what you want to see.”
~Deborah Moran, ACE

Read more in our exclusive interview, “Deborah Moran, ACE on Editing Episodic Television Series, ‘City on a Hill.'” ‘I enjoy working on a fight scene, as much as working on a scene where a family is fighting around the dinner table, or a courtroom revelation, or a quiet scene between two people. Each type of scene has its own challenges.’…

Tip #6

“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out. Martin Scorsese.”
~Peter Markham

Read more in our exclusive interview, “Peter Markham’s Tips for Aspiring Directors.” ‘ If you decide to make the film, surely you respect the script? If you don’t, why are you making it?’…

Tip #7

“Watch a lot of movies – but just as importantly, expose yourself to more influences than just film. Read novels, listen to music, study paintings, listen to old radio plays. The deeper your well of creative and aesthetic influences, from all forms of art and expression, the more ideas you’ll have on set for how to stage, frame, and conceive your own movie.”
~Greg Takoudes

Read more in our exclusive interview, “Film Directing Insights from Greg Takoudes.” ‘I think a lot of new directors have an image in their heads of what a director is, or how a director behaves, and they feel insecure about not being that thing. The truth is, directors are usually not field generals.’…

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