Thursday, August 20, 2009

How to decide where to put the camera?

Knowing what you want to say and how you want to say it.  That's the basics for Directing. 
Of course, there's much more - having a great idea, pitching it to people, getting them to believe in you -- but when it comes down to the actual DIRECTING part - actually being clear on what we want to say - we can be a little in the dark. 

But that's okay, because darkness can be a place where we discover what it is we want to say. 
We can get real quiet and start asking the questions which will reveal the answers - and once we have those answers, then we can direct with assurance - even as we are open to spontaneous happenings and all a matter of things that pop up when making a doc, writing a novel, or screenplay. 

But it's not alway easy to ask those questions.  Too often we have an idea, and then we start applying for grants, so instead of asking questions according to an artistic, organic process, we are filling out forms, trying to win grants, or making  a "work in Progress" to win grants.

Instead - and this is my opinion - I think it's important to let all the grant forms go, and allow yourself to ask the really creative questions as part of an artistic process.   Really start to imagine the world of your story, and what happens there.  Your story, your characters, they will tell you with startling clarity - but first you have to listen to them and really let them tell you. 

I was scheduled to start working in private session with a filmmaker not long ago.  She was a veteran documentary editor, but was working on the first doc she was directing also.  The day before we were to meet, she called me, ready to cancel, 

"I'm doing a writing pass on it," She was working on it for an application,  "and I'm not sure if now is the best time to get opinions of it."  As a long time editor, I knew exactly what she was talking about.  She had to let her own ideas come through.  But I knew I could help her.

"My job is not to give you opinions on your film," I told her.  "My job is to help you find out what it is you really want to say."  Fortunately, she came as scheduled, and we started work, and when we did exercises, she started to reveal the characters in her story.   But it wasn't until I reflected those revelations back to her that she could really start to see her story clearly herself. 

Every artist needs someone to bounce off of.  Make sure you have that built into your process, and it will help you again and again.  

     Happy filmmaking - 
     Classes starting in September Wednesday Afternoons - 1-4. continuing Tuesday night 7-10. 


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