WANT TO DIRECT? (7 Traditional Trends vs 10 Alternative Truths)

WANT TO DIRECT?

Don’t make it difficult…

Get a script, then a Shooter with a Digital (4K) Camera and cast your actors as you secure a Location and have the Shooter bring 5 of his/her crew friends.

Now, use a Wide-Angle Lens, hit the On-Button… Say “Talk” (OK: say “Action”)… Wait 90-minutes. Say “Shaddup” (OK: say “Cut”).

Voilla. You directed a movie…

Of course there is more… much more… but my point is when Alfred Hitchcock stated “Everything one needs to know about film making can be learned in 2 to 3 days.” do you truly desire to take 2-4 years and spend almost $250K to shoot a short or two and practice pitches to people who won’t return your calls, once you graduate.

CHINA-Shoot

(“Got a script? Cameras are cheap. Actors are everywhere. So, if you want to direct…then direct.)

Now, thanks to the internet and MOOCs (Mobile Open Online Campuses) you have a choice and there are two methods, The Traditional or The Alternative, to mastering the craft of directing.

Let’s take a quick look.

 

TRADITIONAL vs ALTERNATIVE METHOD

(“Spielberg started his career with a 4-actor, 1-room “Night Gallery” episode titled “Eyes” and mastered the basics.”)

Once you have the facts, directing is not difficult. But to get the facts lets compare the Traditional (4-years) vs the Alternative (2-days) directing programs… Then pick one.

 

TRADITIONAL (4-Year Theory, with the 7 Directing Trends)

Traditional film school programs (USC, NYU, UCLA, etc.), take 4-years, cost almost $250,000, offer a superb technical curriculum with their directing instructors using the textbook, “Introduction to the Craft of Directing”, that states the “7 Modern Directing Trends” and in your junior and senior years, you put these 7 Trends into practice with 2-3 shorts.

There is nothing wrong with this curriculum, if 17-20 years old, and are having a wonderful time living away-from-home and socializing… but, if you are an adult (22-55), with talent, is this worth 2-4 years of time and $250,000? And, if not, is there a better and more cost effective use of your time and money?

First let’s peruse the “7 Directing Trends” (“Introduction to the Craft of Directing” textbook), used at traditional film schools.

 

THE 7 DIRECTING TRENDS

  • 1st Directing Trend: PLOTS

Plots are old fashioned. A story with a plot is contrived, artificial and boring. (“Huh? Plot is contrived?”)

  • 2nd Directing Trend: STORY STRUCTURE

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.”)

  • 3rd Directing Trend: EDUCATE vs ENTERTAIN

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.”)

  • 4th Directing Trend: IDEAS vs CHARACTERS

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 to be one-dimensional. He’ll say “Make My Day””.)

 

  • 5th Directing Trend: THEMES

I think the most interesting theme nowadays 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…”)

  • 6th Directing Trend: SYMBOLISM vs REAL LIFE

I like symbolism. I don’t see the point of characters that are realistic. It’s much more interesting when they are abstract. (“Huh?” “Huh” “I wanna scream”)

  • 7th Directing Trend: REALISTIC BUDGETS

I like to play with scenes of fantasy rather than reality. I like dream sequences (“Hey, keep a pencil & notepad by your bed. Wake up 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 theory taught at 4 year traditional schools at a cost of $250K. (“$250K…Someone poke my eyes out.”)

Now the alternative that costs 90% less, saves 2-4 years and ends with you directing & owning a Feature Film…

 

ALTERNATIVE (2-Day Practical, with 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 (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!”.

 

The 10 Directing Truths

  • 1st: 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.
  • 2nd: DIRECTING THE PRODUCER: No Money-No Movie: Direct the producer with a super pitch to secure $20,000 to $100,000, independent of the studio system, to make a movie…. which you will learn how-to do in 20-minutes.
  • 3rd: DIRECTING THE BUDGET: The Shoot: With $20-$100K 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.
  • 4th: 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 (aka: get-in-the-can) 5 pages/day or 1-page every two hours… which you will learn how-to in only 12-minutes.
  • 5th: DIRECTING THE SHOTS: Shot Selection: First get a Master Shot. Then get two Over-The-Shoulder Medium Shots. Then Close-ups & Cutaways and before you leave the location… Get an Establishing Shot. … To learn how to direct a Master, Mediums, Establishing Shot and Close-ups… only takes 12-15 minutes.
  • 6th: DIRECTING THE CAMERA: Lens Choice: For Masters use a 18-25mm Lens. For Medium Shots use 30-50mm Lens. For Close-ups use 70-100mm Lens. For Establishing Shots use a wide-angle lens unless restricted within confines of walls that limit movement… you learn this in only 10-12 minutes.
  • 7th: DIRECTING THE ACTORS: Cast Actors: Get a Casting Director who gets 10 actors/part, then direct a Cattle-Call and two Call-Backs and 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.
  • 8th: 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.
  • 9th: 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), Grip & DP will take 15-20 minutes to understand.
  • 10th: DIRECTING THE EDIT: Oversee Post: In Low-Budget the director is 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 a finished film…. The steps of Post-Production, a 10-15 week period in real time, only takes 35-40 minutes to learn.

 

SO YOU WANT TO DIRECT!

OK, then do it but ask yourself  “is it better to spend $250,000 at a 4-year traditional program loaded with theory or $289 at a 2-day alternative program with cut-to-the-chase, no-bull facts?”

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?

Now, pick one.

  • (1) Traditional (4-Year) method costing $250,000 and direct shorts.
  • (2) Alternative (2-Day) method costing $289 and, with the money saved, allocate $10-$30k, get a 90-page script, do a 1-week shoot, direct a feature film that you own, get an Opening Title Credit as Director and launch your directing career at the film festival circuit.

The ball is in your court…

 

Happy Directing,

Dov Simens

LEARN DIRECTING… Why Wait?

Want to Produce, Write, Direct?  Want only facts… not theory. Then either of my film programs ($89-389) are perfect for you…

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One comment on “WANT TO DIRECT? (7 Traditional Trends vs 10 Alternative Truths)”

  1. True, true and absolutely true. I’ve followed these steps (well, within my budget) and they work. Love the simplicity!

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