Who gets hired as a first-time director?

Many of you have asked, "What establishes a director?"

I discussed how first-timers get a chance to direct in my last post.

There ARE qualities looked for by people who hire directors (e.g., producers, investors, actors, etc.).

There are three elements in determining whether or not someone can direct a movie.

First, can he/she tell a story? That is, is there sufficient drama, comedy, intrigue, mystery, romance and so on to keep an audience’s attention? Of course, the screenplay would have a lot to do with this, but the characters and their dialogue contribute as much or more than the story points. After all, the spoken words create the sense of who these people are. Think about your favorite movies, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the people are what maintains your interest.

Second, can he create interesting shots? That is, do the images compel one, along with the story and the characters, to be interested in the outcome? If a film had every shot at eye level and with the actors framed from the waist up, that would be dull–almost like a filmed stage play. If every shot were static – no motion whatsoever, of camera or actors – there would be little sense of "revelation," little mystery.

Third, can he create an emotion. Many people define emotion as feeling. But they define feeling as emotion! What is an emotion really? Look at the word: "e" is a prefix meaning "out of" or "away from." "Motion" comes simply from the Latin "movere," or movement. Thus, an emotion suggests a change of state, from one state to another. From grief to anger, from boredom to enthusiasm, or any such transition. This value is, perhaps, the most important in the arts. The story, the characters, and the images of them are what creates emotion in a movie, and we expect the director, who presides over all of these elements, to control our senses. As Alfred Hitchcock used to say, "An audience will go where I take them…and, believe me, they’ll be happy to get there.

This can be done in a 30-second commercial, a music video, a short film, or a scene from a full-length script.

When I consult with aspiring directors, I work with them on how to develop these qualities, and on how to sell others on the fact that they can achieve the desired results.

All my best wishes for your films!

Eric Sherman

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