DO YOU WANT TO DIRECT? (If Yes. This post is a Must! Take 3 Minutes. Learn the Basics)
by Dov S-S Simens on October 9, 2017
WANT TO DIRECT? Then Get a Master & 2-Pops
Directing is actually quite simple once you learn the “Master & 2-Pops” concept.
So read on and in 3-minutes, maybe 5, you’ll grasp the formula, taught by Roger Corman to first-timers, now Directors, like Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, James Cameron. Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme & John Sayles…
So continue for 3-5 minutes and once you’ve read TRUTHs 5 & 6 (see below) you will clearly know the directing formula.
1st: Want Directing Theory or Directing Facts?
Make a decision… If you love romantic theory then absolutely attend a traditional, 4-year, $250,000 film school program like NYU, USC or UCLA and learn how to direct when you have unlimited studio funds and everything in the universe is available to you whenever you want it.
Nice theory but not realistic.
Or, accepting that talent can’t be taught, and you merely want facts on directing low-budget feature films, with limited funds when things (actors, locations, crew, weather, costumes, etc.) are rarely available when you want them, then continue with this article and hopefully an alternative 2-day film program will give you all you need to direct… but you must supply talent.
Directing is simple…Don’t make it difficult… Get a script. Get a Camera. Cast Actors. Think Master Shot. Use a Wide-Angle Lens. Hit the On-Button. Say “Talk” (OK: say “Action”). Wait 90-minutes. Say “Shaddup” (OK: say “Cut”)… Now, do it with talent.
Voilla. You got a movie… Why make it difficult?
(“Scripts are everywhere? Cameras are cheap. Actors are plentiful. So, if you want to direct…then direct.)
Yes, of course there is more and there are two film school methods (Traditional and Alternative) to master the craft of directing.
But remember, all buildings, just like all movies, are not the same.
And learning to build (aka: direct) a massive (Studio Feature) 20 story, 300,000sft, condo project does little help when you are about to build (aka: direct) a small (Independent Feature) single story, 1,500sft cottage…
(“Spielberg started his career with a low-budget 4-actors, 1-room “Night Gallery” episode titled “Eyes” with Joan Crawford and mastered the Master & 2-Pops basics.”)
Lets compare the 4-Year (Traditional) and 2-Day (Alternative) film programs.
4-YEAR FILM SCHOOL (Traditional Theory):
The 7 Directing Trends
Traditional film school programs at schools like USC and NYU, take 4-years, cost $250,000+ and teach how to make shorts using many times the textbook, “Introduction to the Craft of the Director” (https://www.amazon.com/Film-making-Introduction-Craft-Director/dp/0571211259), as the guideline which states the “7 Modern Trends” for directing, are…
….. (Trend #1) Plots are old fashioned. A story with a plot is contrived, artificial and boring.
(“Huh? Plot is contrived?”)
….. (Trend #2) When you start writing a script, just begin at the beginning without trying to plan how it will end. Planning isn’t necessary. Its much better to be spontaneous. Improvise as you go along.
(“Huh? Just Fake it. Every building has a blueprint. Every journey has a roadmap. You just don’t fake it.”)
….. (Trend #3) The most boring thing of all is to be obvious. It’s much more interesting to be ambiguous. Leave it to the audience to work out what you mean. Why does everything have to be explained?
(“Huh? Audiences don’t come to figure things out… they come to be entertained.”)
….. (Trend #4) Ideas and issues are what interests me. That’s where I like to start: from an idea. I don’t really care about the character so much.
(“Huh? Tell the story with boring, one-dimensional characters.” Hollywood Execs say, “You got a message…Call Western Union”.)
(“Tell Eastwood you want the characters in your movie to be one-dimensional and he’ll say “Make My Day””.)
….. (Trend #5) I think the most interesting theme today is alienation. That’s what’s true to life because everyone is alienated nowadays. A character that wants to do things, or who has something he wants to achieve is somehow phony, or corny.
(“Huh”. A Character that wants to do things is phony. I ain’t gonna respond to this…”)
….. (Trend #6) I like symbolism. I don’t see the point of characters that are realistic. (“I wanna scream”) It’s much more interesting when they are abstract.
(“Huh?” “Huh” and “Double-Huh”)
…. (Trend #7) I like to play with scenes of fantasy rather than reality. I like dream sequences (“Hey, keep a pencil & notepad by your bed. Wakeup during the dream. Jot it down. Type it into 90-120 pages. Now direct it.”) and flashbacks. It’s more interesting when you can play around with time.
(“Huh?” “Play around with time? Flashbacks and Flash Forwards are bloody expensive and not doable on Low-Budgets…”)
This is the directing method taught at 4 year schools at a cost of $250K.
(“$250K…Someone poke my eyes out.”)
Now the alternative method…
2-DAY FILM SCHOOL (Facts):
The 10 Directing Truths
The Alternative weekend program wastes no time, cuts-right-to-the-chase on the morning of Day-1 with 10 Directing Truths, not Trends, within 2 Hours (read below), that are so easy to understand you go to lunch proclaiming “I Got it! I get it. I got it.. OMG I got it!”.
(“Within 2-hours, before lunch I promise that you will know exactly how to direct… Guaranteed”)
….. (Truth #1) DIRECTING THE STORY: Script Selection: Keep It Simple. 90-pages. 1-3 Locations. Highlight the drama. Block out 40-50 scenes. Set-up. Plot Points. Crisis with Resolution….which you learn in 12-minutes.
….. (Truth #2) DIRECTING THE PRODUCER: No Money-No Movie: Direct the producer with a super pitch to secure $20,000 to $300,000, independent of the studio system, to make a movie…. which you learn how-to do in 20-minutes.
….. (Truth #3) DIRECTING THE BUDGET: The Shoot: With $20-$300K you can afford a 1-, 2- or 3-week shoot… Direct a 1-week Shoot with 16-18 hour workdays, a 2-week Shoot with 15-16 hour workdays or a 3-week Shoot with 12-15 hour workdays… which takes only 20-minutes to teach.
….. (Truth #4) DIRECTING THE SCHEDULE: The Schedule: With a 3-week shoot you have 18 shooting days. With 18-shooting days and a 90-page script you must direct 5 pages/day or 1-page every two hours… which you will learn in only 12-minutes.
Now for the “Master & 2-Pops”
….. (Truth #5) DIRECTING THE SHOTS: Shot Selection: First get a Master Shot. Then get two Over-The-Shoulder Medium Shots. (This is what Roger Corman called the “Master & 2-Pops”) Then get the Close-ups & Cutaways and before you leave the location… Get an Establishing Shot. … To learn how to direct a Master, two Mediums, an Establishing Shot and 7-8 Close-ups… only takes 12-15 minutes.
….. (Truth #6) DIRECTING THE CAMERA: Lens Choice: For Master Shots use a 18mm-25mm Lens. For Medium Shots use 30mm-50mm Lens. For Close-ups use 70mm-100mm Lens. For Establishing Shots use a wide-angle lens unless restricted within confines of walls that limit movement… you will learn in only 10-12 minutes.
The “Master & 2 Pops”, very simply is, for each scene first start with a Master Show (18mm-25mm lens), then get the two Over-The-Shoulder Medium Shots (30mm-50mm Lens). You now have the foundation for your scene… a Master and 2 Mediums sometimes called “The Master & 2-Pops”
….. (Truth #7) DIRECTING THE ACTORS: Cast Actors: Hire a Casting Director and direct a Cattle-Call and two Call-Backs. Pick the best actor for each part… who looks right, is creative and when you say “Action” he/she does what you want. If not, say “Back to Position One” and do it again… Casting actors is much easier than thought and it only takes 15-20 minutes to learn.
….. (Truth #8) DIRECTING THE SHOOT: Work Days: For a 3-week shoot, you must get 5 pages in-the-can per day. For a 12-hour day (one-hour lunch and one-hour morning startup), you have 10 hours of daylight left to get one-page directed every two hours… this only takes 12-15 minutes to understand.
….. (Truth #9) DIRECTING THE LIGHTS: Light the Scene: First get a Key Light. Next an Eye Light, Back Lights and Fill Lights. Look into the camera’s eyepiece; and if you can see in the actor’s eyes, without him blinking, a little twinkle. Voilla. Rehearse, say Action & get the shot… Directing the Gaffer (Lighting Director) will take 15-20 minutes to understand.
….. (Truth #10) DIRECTING THE EDIT: Oversee Post: In Low-Budget the director is usually the Post-Production Supervisor… Thus, direct the Picture Editor, then the Sound Editor, then ADR, then Foley. Now, direct the Mixer, the M&E Engineer and the Colorist and you now have directed a finished film…. The steps of Post-Production, which is a 10-15 week period in real time, only takes 35-40 minutes to learn.
AGAIN, WANT TO DIRECT?
OK… Then just do it and I beseech you to save the $250,000 you’d spend at a 4 year program and use $20K-$50K of it as the budget for your first feature film directing credit.
Don’t get me wrong… Film schools like NYU, UCLA and USC are great film schools but “are they worth 4-years and $250,000 to make shorts?”
Now, pick one… The Traditional 4-year method costing $250,000 and direct shorts or the Alternative 2-day method costing $89-$289 and direct a feature film.
The ball is in your court.
Dov Simens / Creator 2-DAY, DVD & VOD Film Schools
2-DAY FILM SCHOOL
(Live $289-389, DVD $249 or VOD $89-149 Formats)
Pick One. Enroll. Graduate.
Write. Produce. Direct.
Next “HOLLYWOOD (2-Day) FILM SCHOOL” sessions are December 9-10, 2017 and April 21-22, 2018.